est Restaurant in Toronto has reopened under new ownership, serving a concise menu of Italian and French dishes.
Andre Harricharan, 20, and Jordan Diniz, 24, took over the spot after est's previous chef-owner Sean MacDonald moved to Los Angeles and sold the business.
Harricharan runs the front of house and, despite his young age, has many years of restaurant experience working for his father who owns Island Mix, a Caribbean-Chinese chain of restaurants around the GTA.
Diniz is the kitchen's head chef and is assisted by Dominic Fidilio. Diniz developed the food menu which takes culinary inspiration from France and Northern Italy.
The 24-year-old participated in George Brown's post-graduate culinary program, where he studied at Alma Scuola Internazionale di Cucina Italiana in Italy. Prior to owning est, he also ran his own catering business.
Diniz had heard about Harricharan and his interest in getting into the restaurant industry from Diniz's uncle.
Connecting over their similar backgrounds, they bought est Restaurant in July when they saw it up for sale.
The restaurant's interior is almost identical to its predecessor save for a few modern additions like the "this must be the place" neon sign near the entrance.
The room maintains a minimalist feel with its white cream coloured ceiling and walls. Filled with varying shades of dark and light woods, the space is also accented by grey seat covers.
Knowing est's prior reputation, Diniz and Harricharan told blogTO they felt the pressure to maintain the quality of food and service that existed before them.
The duo took feedback from members of the community who felt limited by the tasting menu-only focus that was previously served.
Instead, they reopened with an a la carte menu and are planning on offering a tasting option that features smaller portions of the current menu.
I started with the Truffle Burrata ($31) which is served with three pieces of grilled sourdough bread sourced from Blackbird Baking Co.
The ball of black truffle-infused burrata bursts into a creamy spread when it's cut open which I enjoyed with the toast.
Cool and buttery, the cheese dish comes with sweet black figs and is finished with Osprey Bluffs honey, balsamic glaze, and shaved black summer truffles.
The Crispy Cauliflower ($17) features bite-sized pieces deep fried cauliflower that are tossed in Szechuan pepper sauce, then garnished with green onion, radish, and sesame seeds.
The sauce is more mild than expected, but has strong notes of garlic and ginger.
The Pappardelle Ragu ($31) is a hit for those looking for a simply prepared dish that's full of flavour.
Al dente pappardelle noodles are topped with a white ragu sauce that's made from a blend of beef, veal, and pork that's Ben slow cooked for over 6 hours.
Finished with Parmigiano-Reggiano, the tender noodles and meat take centre stage, although I found it hard to detect the sauce's flavour.
Featuring a 6oz piece of Irish organic salmon, the Grilled Salmon ($43) is cooked on a habachi grill and has a great smokey flavour.
Glazed with Osprey Bluffs honey, the fillet sits on sea asparagus and is sided by a bright green pea puree that's adorned with pickled ginger, crispy proscuitto bits, and alternating dots of tarragon and squid ink aioli.
est serves a diverse list of colourful and carefully curated cocktails made by mixologist Jojo.
The Peachy Basil White Sangria ($15) mixes house white wine with triple sec, lemonade, and peach nectar. A bundle of basil leaves and peach slices garnish the cocktail, and add a punch of herbal freshness to this juicy drink.
est is located at Queen Street East and Broadview Avenue.