Constantine is the ground-floor restaurant of Anndore House, providing the boutique hotel with sharing-style breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner.
A collaboration between Craig Harding and Alexandra Hutchison of La Palma and Campagnolo along with Mercatto’s Jack and Domenic Scarangella and Steve Christian, the place serves a loosely Mediterranean menu with a focus on Middle Eastern flavours.
That’s not to say that there isn’t a firm Italian foundation here, the wood-burning pizza oven and grill also central at La Palma taking literal centre stage in the open kitchen here.
The 145-seat dining room designed by Studio Munge is set off by the glow of surrounding white vases crowded on shelves, created using traditional Italian glassblowing techniques.
An 18-seat bar surrounds the open kitchen on three sides.
The 50-seat Bar at Constantine remains open serving drinks and small plates after the main restaurant closes.
Chicken liver crostini ($13) exemplifies the restaurant’s traditional bistro backbone with just a hint of Mediterranean flavour. Thick Blackbird sourdough grilled on the plancha topped with a generous scoop of silky chicken liver mousse could be relatively plain if not for bright and acidic pickled shredded carrot.
Grilled halloumi on panella ($11) sees grilled squeaky halloumi triangles atop similarly shaped chickpea fritters served on a swipe of labneh with a bit of pickled chili to liven everything up, flavours planted firmly in the Middle Eastern category.
Pappardelle ($23) is one of the fresh pasta offerings, with large hunks of saucy braised rabbit, bitter and meaty green olives, fennel and white wine, comforting to the core.
Wagyu Picanah ($38) is a Brazilian-style cut of sirloin cap known for its tenderness and flavour, perfect for paying homage to the Argentine grill. Grilled lemon, buttery fire-roasted garlic, a chimichurri of parsley, mint, coriander, and pickled shallots along with a winter tabouleh make for a harmonious fusion of accompaniments.
A chocolate dessert ($12) is an almond meal cake with a lemon ganache, preserved lemon zest, and a chocolate sable, all in a pool of kalamansi syrup that’s somewhat soggy but intense in citrus flavour.
A nougat glacé ($12) pops with brightness, each bite totally unique, topped with crushed rose petal, a cakey pistachio “foam,” blood orange segments, a hot pink blood orange glacé biscuit, and a blood orange gel.
The Tropicalia ($16) is a riff on a Mai Tai, tropical and herbal with cachaça, branca menta, lemon, lime, orgeat and passionfruit.
A Gatto di Strada ($18) is boozier with Rittenhouse rye, Dolin dry vermouth, Cynar and China China.
The cuisine’s wandering feel makes sense when you consider the restaurant’s named for a Roman emperor.
Clearly this is one more stop on the AlterEgo restaurant partnership tour of conquest in Toronto.
Come out to Constantine for the pastry battle of the year! Taste all four doughnuts, vote for your fave and see if your vote lines up with our guest judges.
Competing for the Bombolone crown:
Buca - Chef Shelby Abate
Mercatto - Chef Doug Neigel
Il Covo - Chef Sarah Fiore
Oretta - Chef Gabriele Di Marco
Nick Rose - VICE
Deborah Reid - Eater, Taste, Globe and Mail...