actinolite toronto

Fancy restaurant in Toronto transforms into intimate cottage-like dining experience

A Toronto restaurant has evolved its dining experience to highlight all of the best parts of being up North, without actually leaving the city. 

Actinolite Restaurant located at 971 Ossington Ave. has been offering wood fire dinners this summer.

The restaurant's backyard patio is set up with a large crackling fire and cooking station in the middle where Chef Justin Cournoyer flips, seasons, sautées the most in-season food. 

"The inspiration came from daily trips to the farmers' markets and from growing ingredients in our own garden. We became obsessed with the freshness and quality that came with picking produce and presenting it on the plate moments later," reads the Actinolite website.  

Tables are set up around the fire to observe the process. Once the food is taken off the grill, it is promptly served to the tables just steps away from the flame. This provides a culinary experience where diners are able to smell and be involved in every part of the cooking process. 

The neighbourhood restaurant first opened in March 2012. The Chef's menu located at the bottom of the traditional fare quickly gained a following and "soon the majority of our guests were requesting this memorable meal." 

The restaurant continued to offer its three-course meal for take-out over the course of the pandemic. The restaurant closed for a much need break in December of 2020 and just re-opened late last week. 

Since reopening, the popular wood fire meal is now available on site and diners get a front-row seat as their meal sizzles over the fire. 

Toronto foodie, Ruba Abboud attended a dining service and had nothing but raving reviews. "It was warm, intimate and very sensory because you are watching and looking at the flames, smelling the fire and the food - which created the most beautiful sensory experience." 

Abboud explained that she is not keen on camping, albeit felt as though she was cottaging, camping or somewhere up North. "I left feeling like those experiences must be the most beautiful thing in the world, because he gave that to us - right here in the city." 

The menu offerings the night Abboud dined included; fresh bread that was kept warm and crispy from the fires' flame, fresh raw oysters, locally-sourced fish and seasoned steak cooked over the fire, fresh salad, grilled zucchini, melt-in-your-mouth fire-roasted beets, followed by dessert, of course. Needless to say, it was a feast. 

"In terms of flavour, Chef Justin knows what he is doing. He is very passionate about what he does and you can see that in how good the experience was," said Abboud.  

Everything is served to the table with an explanation of what it is and how it was prepared. 

"The cooking is simple, but not simplistic. A lot of hard work, focus and great care goes into creating food with few ingredients. Our dining experience is a journey, inspired by honest, seasonal food."

The restaurant announced they opened 4 days ago on Instagram and they are already booked up until the end of August. However, they do have a waitlist in case there are cancellations and open up more availability on the 1st of each month. 

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