The Best New Restaurants in Toronto, 2008
Of the 11 places on last year's roundup of the best new restaurants in Toronto, only one (Karuchie) has since gone bust. Another has overhauled management (Coca) but as for the other nine, life seems to be humming right along.
I hope at least the same can be said a year from now for the crop of restaurants born in the city during the past 12 months. We're now in recessionary times and already menus are being nipped, tucked and tweaked. Promises of more comfort food and value-pricing (and no, I'm not talking McD's) are becoming more common; and higher end new spots like Nyood and Nota Bene are likely to see more empty tables than they'd like if housing prices and stock portfolios continue to plummet.
With a few exceptions food trends started to shift this year. I'm thankful that not every new restaurant serves tapas; and the whole molecular gastronomy thing appears to have been little more than a flirtatious fad.
Also: See our list of The Best New Cheap Eats of 2008.
Forget Terroni, Lower Ossington is where pizza is at. Combine a no reservation policy with Torontonians' new found love for Neapolitan pizza and this place hums with line-ups out the door nightly. The secret ingredients here are freshness and an authentic wood burning oven crafted in the mother country. San Marzano tomatoes and Fiore di Latte Mozzarella are brought in daily and the pizza cooks in less than 90 seconds. More »
Anointed the 3rd best restaurant in Canada by En Route Magazine, the Harbord Room almost single-handedly ushered in new energy to the often below-the-radar restaurant row on Harbord between Spadina and Bathurst. Try the steak frites, calamari or risotto; or cure your hangover with some eggs benedict at their popular Sunday brunch. More »
Starring the former owner of Little Italy's Colbalt and the ex charcutier at Amuse Bouche, Lucien and Canoe, the Black Hoof is now ground zero when it comes to sharing pig ears and horse sausage with your best friends. Don't leave without ordering a bowl of the cabbage soup and bone marrow, a perfect match for dunking with some fresh Thuet bread. More »
The owner of Table 17 might have screwed the pooch with the now shuttered Izakaya on Front St., but his new spot in Riverside hits it out of the park. The restaurant is divided into two rooms and features huge mirrors, chalk board wine menus, stunning chandeliers and amazing fresh cut fries. Brunch is a good option here too. More »
It may not get as much fanfare as some other spots around Ossington, but Delux (which opened in the former home of The Sparrow about a year back) knows its way around a Cubano Sandwich. Featuring upcycled lighting from Castor Design and some comfy booths it's a good bet for an intimate meal. Just be sure to save room for some cookies and milk for dessert. More »
Grace Restaurant calls home the space on College formerly known as Xacutti. Inside the restaurant has been completely redone and features banquet tables, an outdoor patio and a modern farmhouse menu courtesy of a former sous-chef of Susur Lee. More »
Rosdale's Le Petit Castor already has locals clamoring to get a table on a Saturday night. This is THE midtown place to see and be seen at the moment. The owners have done wonders making the former Thai Magic location over into a cozy but stylish "gastropub", complete with rather pricey favourites like chicken wings, steak frites and mac and cheese. More »
From the same people who brought us the excellent Amaya the Indian Room comes the Bread Bar, the home of more fresh, inventive Indian eats. The kitchen takes inspiration from Calcutta street food and a daily tasting menu can be had for the whole table to sample a mix of the best offerings. More »
Like its name suggests, the School Bakery and Cafe brings a high school theme to life (but in a good way) complete with blackboards, bookshelves and uniforms worn by the waitstaff. Currently serving breakfast, lunch and brunch, a dinner menu is slated to be added to the repertoire by Summer. More »
This two floor classic French bistro on Harbord features cold-weather classics like French onion soup, cheese fondue and boeuf bourguignon but the star attraction here is the ambiance and the calories you'll pack on from all the meat, cheese and butterfat. But it's worth it, and nothing a 30 minute run up Bathurst won't cure in the morning. More »