What’s on the menu at Ration Food Lab, the Beverley Hotel’s new zero-waste tasting menu restaurant

What’s on the menu at Ration Food Lab, the Beverley Hotel’s new zero-waste tasting menu restaurant

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Name: Ration Food Lab
Contact: 335 Queen St. W., rationbeverley.com, @ration.beverley
Owners: Wesley Barber (Reverie at Weldon Park), Jef Edwards (Test Kitchen Tuesdays, Reverie at the Park), and Chris Nguyen (Strangelove Coffee)
Chefs: Executive chef Jef Edwards and corporate chef Raul D’Souza
Seating: Capacity of 70 in the main dining room (currently seating 40), with another 70 on the rooftop patio
Accessibility: Fully accessible with elevator access to the basement washrooms and rooftop patio

The food

Like many restaurants that opened during the pandemic, Ration Food Lab started as a takeout counter and bodega, selling house-made pantry goods, smash burgers and fried chicken to go. And while you can still find some of these items on the lunch menu, it’s at dinner that chef Edwards and his team shine.

Here, contemporary Canadian cuisine is explored through a six-course tasting menu built on a foundation of zero-waste. Much of what Edwards incorporates into the menu has been foraged with the help of experts; other specialty produce is sourced from local farm partners. The rest of Ration’s pantry is created in the basement lab, where there’s a vertical farm for microgreens.

The constantly changing menu is predominantly plant-based, but there are still four different versions to accommodate different diets: one for meat eaters, another for pescatarians, a gluten-free option and a vegan-friendly one. Requiring less commitment, the a la carte menu draws inspiration from the tasting menu and also features large-format dishes. There’s also brunch on the weekends. And when the weather warms up, the rooftop patio will serve a casual a la carte menu.

The house-smoked olives are available on the a la carte and rooftop patio menus.

 

For his signature katsuobushi cabbage, Edwards dresses a wedge of seared cabbage in caper beurre blanc made from sourdough bread ends, then finishes it with smoked breadcrumbs and grated house-cured, double-smoked katsuobushi.

 

Agnolotti comes stuffed with a filling made from the fried cabbage trim and comte cheese. The pasta pockets are topped with fermented fennel sabayon (the byproduct of the fermented fennel from the salad course), hen-of-the-woods mushrooms and roasted pepitas. The dish is aromatized with black vinegar and served with fresh miso bread to complete the zero-waste story of both the cabbage and bread courses.

 

And here’s a group shot

The duck course stars a koji-cured, 10-day dry-aged duck breast served with grilled rapini, duck jus and a tasty paste made from a master blend of 40 different fermented ingredients. The main dish is accompanied by a side of fire-grilled duck heart yakitori with lacto-plum gastric, and smoked leg croquettes.

 

Here’s a closer look at the croquettes. They’re seasoned with duck heart garum and topped with sous-vide duck egg yolk before being smoked over hay.

 

And here’s a closer look at the wee hearts.

 

A new surf-and-turf course features compressed kabocha squash flavoured with oyster garum and five-spice. It’s cooked sous vide, then roasted and finished with fried lichen and a shaved radicchio salad.

 

The 120-day dry-aged striploin from Penokean Hills Farm is finished with its own beef jus. Available only on the a la carte menu. $34 (4 oz.) or $68 (8 oz., shown here).

 

The chocolate and mushroom dessert by pastry chef Erika McDonald garnishes dark chocolate–covered mushroom caramel and dark chocolate tofu mousse with sweet fried enoki mushroom roots. It’s all vegan.

 

From left to right: Eleni Bock, Jordan Oetelaar, Wesley Barber, Jef Edwards and Chris Nguyen.
The drinks

The beverage program is taken just as seriously. Barber adventurous wine list features a whole bunch of low-intervention and biodynamic bottles from small producers, including some from Ontario wineries like Vineland’s Cloudsley Cellars. And bar manager Eleni Bock (BarChef, Figures) follows the same zero-waste philosophy practiced by the kitchen for her cocktails. In the Parsnip’arita, for example, Bock replaces the use of Triple Sec with an orange salt rim made from dehydrated candied orange rind, orange pith and salt, for a similar flavour profile.

The Parsnip’arita—the bar’s take on a margarita—is made with Tromba Blanco, mezcal, lychee liqueur, lacto-fermented parsnip, lime, orange and pepper salt. A true zero-waste cocktail, it’s rimmed with dehydrated orange rind and pith, and garnished with a dehydrated parsnip rose made out of the same root veggie used in the drink’s lacto-fermented syrup. Finally, the dehydrated lime slice garnish is what’s left from the fruit after its zest has been harvested to make the bar’s cordials. $17.

 

The vegetal and vibrant Fresh Thinking doesn’t only contain Hendrick’s Gin, sake, St-Germain Green Chartreuse, cucumber and lime, it also features a microgreen tea made from pea and basil microgreens that are grown in the basement’s vertical garden. $17.

 

Spirit-forward Winter Sporedom pairs perfectly with the current chocolate and mushroom dessert. Made from rye that’s been infused with candied portobello and fermented cacao, it also contains port, roasted brown rice syrup and rosemary. Aromatized with Jägermeister, the drink is finished with cherrywood smoke under a chocolate shard made with dehydrated brown rice previously used to make the brown rice syrup (it tastes kinda like a Crunch bar). $20.
The space

Taking over the main floor of the Beverley by Sonder, Ration shares its space with Strange Love Coffee. The concrete-clad back dining room, decorated to look like an urban jungle, is meant to make guests feel like they’re dining in an alley. There will be live music and rotating art installations like Biophilia, a light exhibit by Mad Cutter currently on display as part of the DesignTO Festival.

The basement kitchen lab is also where foraged products are processed, like these bead ferns which have edible fiddleheads. The fern stalks are dried and used as skewers in the grilled duck heart course.

 

Ration’s house-cured charcuterie and dry-aged beef hangs out in this dining room refrigeration case. (This is where you’ll find Phil, a side of beef that the restaurant is aging for a year.)