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Origin Restaurant

Posted by Guest Contributor / Reviewed on December 10, 2010 / review policy

Origin Restaurant TorontoOrigin is Claudio Aprile's second restaurant in Toronto. Located on the corner of King and Church, this $1.3-million project was envisioned to be a casual dining place for fans of Aprile's contemporary tapas fare.

Origin Restaurant TorontoDesigned by the same team behind Aprile's Colborne Lane, Stroudfoot Inc. stamps its signature urban decay look throughout the restaurant. There's a stripped-down brick wall infused with glowing light from industrial-type lamps. There's an organic piece of reclaimed wood sculptured into an eating counter around a glossy, open-concept kitchen. It's an exquisite centre stage for the Toronto chef and his staff.

Origin Restaurant TorontoAs far as the menu goes, 36 tapas-style dishes with influences from Asia, Europe, and molecular gastronomy are divided into sections: Snacks & Sides, Raw Bar, Mozzarella Bar, Chilled, and Hot.

Origin Restaurant TorontoI opt for Smoked Cod Croquettes ($6) to start. Five perfect spheres arrive in a white bowl with a generous dollop of saffron aioli. It's delicious, although I can't help but notice how other items seem more ambitious.

Origin Restaurant TorontoFrom the Raw section, the Spicy Tuna Roll ($9) is a hand crafted seaweed cone with spicy tuna tartare, batons of crisp green apples, various shades of shiso leaves, miso mayo, and a sprinkling of puffed amaranth. The dish is absolutely sublime, bursting with robust flavours in each bite - and one that I would order again.

Origin Restaurant TorontoFrom the Chilled section of the menu, I try Foie Gras Mousse ($27), which is presented in a mason jar. There's a baffling layer of solid fat surrounding the liver mousse inside, and to get to the foie gras, I chip away the coat that's as palatable as bacon lard left to cool in the refrigerator. Needless to say, I am not a fan of this one.

Origin Restaurant TorontoHowever, the kitchen redeems itself with a dish made in heaven. A thick loin of well-cooked Miso-Glazed Black Cod ($20) shows up on top of al dente soba noodles floating in a light ginger-miso broth. There's a garnish of gentle pea sprouts and a surprising squirt of truffle oil, both of which add an extra dimension to this already wonderful hot entrée.

Origin Restaurant TorontoOverall, I'm hedging my bet on this one - like those traders down on Bay Street. 50% of the food I had, I enjoyed; the other 50% was ho-hum. Yet, I am incorrigibly curious to try some of the other interesting dishes in their market-driven menu. If Aprile continues to do his casual experimentations in the kitchen, then I would certainly bet that something special would rise above all that liquid nitrogen - and Origin's stock would go through the roof!

Origin Restaurant TorontoWriting and photos by Jen Laceda



toggle wog / December 10, 2010 at 10:25 am
pretentious dreck food. I'd rather eat ten big macs.
lindsay / December 10, 2010 at 10:32 am
this is a good review. i'm glad that you added that you were 'not a fan' of the Foie Gras Mousse as opposed to saying it was BAD. the layer of fat is obviously supposed to be there to seal the mousse, as well as some people find it delicious.

obviously, not for you :)

JM / December 10, 2010 at 10:49 am
toggle wog...You are cordially invited to stuff yourself with ten big macs and leave us to enjoy our "dreck" in peace. With their complex flavour I am sure the big macs would be sufficient for someone as open minded and clearly sophisticated as you. Mind you, I eat them all the time.

I've been there twice and the place is great. The beef hand rolls is better than the tuna in my opinion, and the Bangkok Beef Salad is a must try.
pink highlighter / December 10, 2010 at 10:51 am
I dont' understand the hype of places like this. It's so expensive to eat here & as food turns into poop eventually - is there something special about pinching off a $400 turd?
CA / December 10, 2010 at 11:38 am
You can actually eat at Origin without spending a fortune -- the dishes ranges from $4 to $30 each. If you go for multiple $30 dishes, of course it adds up. But if you balance it out with some of the less expensive fare, it can be pretty reasonable for a nice night out. I recommend the tostones and the samosa as delicious, less expensive options. The duck wrap is also fantastic & good value.
Ben / December 10, 2010 at 12:31 pm
Have to say this place was a disappointment for me. I heard great reviews. The first time I went the service was dreadful. It took 45 minutes before the waiter came to our table, and the waiter barely understood the menu. When we asked for wine they said they had no glasses left. Eventually glasses became available. Food was just ok. I decided to go back, thinking it was just one bad experience and the reviews were so good. I went back and was yet again disappointed. Service was better this time but not great. The food didnt excite me at all. They tried to hard to be unique/cool without thinking about flavour.

I think Foxley is a much much better option for tapas food like this, and the a lot less expensive. Also, Foxley has a better wine menu at amazing prices. If you are looking for tapas but tired of the West side of the city, I think Cava is yet another better tapas restaurant but a different type of food. My point is one has to think about opportunity cost. There are better options.
Derek / December 10, 2010 at 12:39 pm
that black cod looks awfully orange
Chris replying to a comment from toggle wog / December 10, 2010 at 12:54 pm
toggle wog: i don't think ten big macs are any less dreck; this is probably more up your alley?
Jane replying to a comment from Chris / December 10, 2010 at 06:41 pm
Dear Toggle Wog (i.e. Big Mac Guy/Gal),

Have you heard about the 6-month Happy Meal test? Somehow I doubt any of Claudio Aprile's food would fail to decompose after sitting on a kitchen counter for 6 months, as was the case when Sally Davies decided to see what would happen when she left a McDonald's Happy Meal on her kitchen counter for 6 months.

But hey, if Big Macs are far superior to the food at Origin, why not test it out for yourself? Order 3 dishes from Origin, take them home in a doggy bag, and watch them sit on your kitchen counter for 6 months. Oh, and you need to photograph them each day to make the experiment scientifically accurate. I look forward to the results from your scientific study and your basis for claiming that Big Macs are somehow far superior to the food prepared at Origin.

Would also be interested to hear how many Big Macs you consume per week (a yearly average will do) and where your body weight ranks on the obesity scale. Oh, wait, is that comment fat-ist?

Good luck with watching your nutrition and giving your cash to a corporation like McDonalds.
Justin replying to a comment from Derek / December 10, 2010 at 06:48 pm
Yeah and Jack Black is white.
Aaron / December 10, 2010 at 10:56 pm
Jane is one hell of an asshole.
Jane replying to a comment from Aaron / December 11, 2010 at 03:49 pm
Do explain Aaron.
Conrad / December 12, 2010 at 08:09 pm
Asshole as in the opening of my butt hole.
John replying to a comment from Aaron / December 22, 2010 at 09:12 am
Agreed - Jane, you have a whorish little mouth.
Erin / December 31, 2010 at 04:39 pm
Great photos! Well done :)
Jane / January 1, 2011 at 07:49 pm
Really Conrad and John?

How is comparing freshly prepared food to Big Macs stating anything significant in the review of this restaurant? I too don't love ALL of Origin's dishes and some seem pretty pricey to me given the ingredients used and preparation methods, but what worth is there in a review of the food in relation to the value of a Big Mac? Seriously, to what end?

In some cases I agree, the food delivered vs. the $$ doled out is somewhat out of whack. But I don't think it deserves a comparison to the Big Mac, or ten of them indeed.

Until I see the wide variety of ingredients and preparation methods of Origin on the menu at McDonalds, I stand solidly in my view. The bucket-loads of sugar, preservatives, antibiotics and the like, along with the re-heating methods at McDonalds, just can't be compared logically.

Now if I hear an argument from either of you which compares an apple to an apple, I'm happy to continue this asinine debate.

I eat burgers from fast food joints as most Canadians do. But I never assume that I can compare a burger from said joint to any restaurant, not just Origin.

A lesson in debating: compare an apple to an apple, otherwise the conversation/debate is null and void.

And no, I'm not an elitist, nor an asshole. I take home enough $$ per year to rank me in the "just over the poverty line" bracket of Canadians. What's needed in food ingredients, preparation and intake these days is not $$, but education. I can prepare a healthy, well balanced meal for less than what I'd spend at McDonalds in a single sitting. But if you're not educated in the manner to do so, you'll end up eating at McDonalds more than you want to. I'm just lucky enough to have been educated in the art of unpreserved ingredients and cooking. If I could teach all of the poorer, McDonalds-eating patrons out there, I would. Which raises the question of responsibility of corporations and governments alike. If you're living under the poverty line, working 3 jobs to make $25K per year, you just don't stand a chance. McDonalds is the only option for the 2 kids you have. Don't shoot the messenger. Get out there and educate/volunteer/promote healthy eating which can be just as economical as McDonald's happy meals.

I've been doing this as best I can. But being someone who lives at the poverty line myself makes that more challenging. What about all those Bay-streeters who take home in excess of $100K per year and eat at restaurants like Origin on a regular basis? Get them involved and we might just find a change in the direction of healthy eating/living. Maybe McDonald's itself will grow a conscience and realize that their food is responsible for the 2,000,000+ Americans who weigh over 500 pounds. Yes, the morbidly obese. They certainlly didn't get that way without the help of McDonald's, Burger King, Subway, and countless pizza joints, etc. It's a slippery slope when you start down that road eating and feeding McDonald's to your children. What responsibility do you feel McDonald's should assume in response to this epidemic? Or does the thought of corporate responsibility and regulation make you shiver? Let McDonald's self-regulate and maybe the obesity crisis will melt away...

Let the argument/debate? continue...
CM / January 4, 2011 at 05:03 pm
pink highlighter

I dont' understand the hype of places like this. It's so expensive to eat here & as food turns into poop eventually - is there something special about pinching off a $400 turd?


LOL what you say is true.
caroline / January 7, 2011 at 01:10 am
I love your photos and the quality. What camera do you use/lens? and at what setting? the pictures look so fresh!
Chat / May 12, 2012 at 08:49 am
Jane, do not bother responding to people like Conrad, John, and the Oink-man. Let them enjoy their big-Macs. Big Macs are what they deserve, based on their inability to articulate any arguments.
ccc replying to a comment from toggle wog / February 21, 2013 at 11:10 pm
corporate cancer communism!!!!
James / May 1, 2015 at 02:01 pm
Worst service in Toronto. If you enjoy overpaying for shitty food while being royally mistreated by rude waiters, this is the place.

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