Woods, the new 60-seat dining room opened in the old Colborne Lane space, is a little like the escape into shade on a hot summer day. I'll attribute it partly to air conditioning, but mostly to the recent overhaul that has seen the space elegantly redone with cool monotones and bare, silhouetted branch motifs. It's a refreshing take on Canadiana that notably doesn't chase the cliché of rustic, worn cottage aesthetics.
The restaurant bears the name of chef/co-owner Bruce Woods (Modus, Brassaii, Centro) who along with partners Byron Messier and Robin Singh, have embraced its double meaning to inspire both dramatic decor and multiple menus.
On the dinner menu there's no obvious succession of courses, but rather plates that run with the woodland theme by utilizing seasonal produce and earthy foraged ingredients. The buttery Seared Quebec Foie Gras ($19) is one such plate, served over mashed purple potatoes, lobster mushrooms, Saskatoon berry compote, bacon and shreds of golden confit. Gently balancing the sweet and salty, eating it is an absolute pleasure.
Next, a delicate plate of Wild Digby Scallops ($17, lead photo) that lie over parsnip purée dotted with what look like lardons, but instead reveal themselves to be briny little cubes of corned beef cheek.
For dessert, the Warm Chocolate Brownie ($11) served with white chocolate ginger ice cream and milk crumble is not only photoshoot worthy, but also spectactularly decadent.
Even better, the Raspberry 'Macaronnade' ($11) stripes a mason jar with layers of mascarpone mousse and textured raspberries. Served with a shard of tuile, candied pine nuts and basil ice cream — swoon — each component is complimentary to the other.
While the dinner menu is quite refined, the bar menu is less expensive and more accessible, offering snacks like Confit Chicken Wings ($12) and Duck Confit Poutine ($14). Chef Woods divulges that he'd love to be that place where the bar is packed at midnight for luxe poutines.
The wine list offers 50 or so selections but the cocktail list is more to the point. It features ryes, single malts and classic cocktails like the Canadian Manhattan ($10), that arrives still swirling with orange pulp and sweetened by brandied cherries and maple syrup.
Currently, the kitchen is open from 11am to 11pm, with Sunday brunch to be introduced sometime in the future.
Photos by Jesse Milns