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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.