Flame Food + Design
Flame Food + Design is three things in one: a cafe, a design store, and a restaurant serving modern Anatolian eats from an Argentenian grill.
This eclectic two-storey building is run by Irem Sacakli, a professor, and her designer-and-chef husband Serhat Sacildi, who operate Flame as a canvas for their creative endeavours.
The lively Turkish couple have transformed this historic Bloor West space—which has previously housed a series of beloved local restaurants like Mad Apple and Dr. Generosity—to house a fun hodgepodge of visual and culinary experiments.
It may seem like too many concepts rolled into one, but it's quite simple: the first floor is where most diners go for Turkish dinners of grilled meats and mezzes.
Upstairs, a cafe serving Turkish coffee and classic Italian espressos operates all day, offering free WiFi and a lunch menu including French crêpes.
Adjacent to the cafe is an airy room dedicated a miscellaneous items from housewares to aprons, t-shirts from Istanbul, and accessories.
Some are designed by Serhat himself while others come from well-known Turkish, French, and Italian brands.
Alongside Deejo knife sets ($350) and cast iron pans are Serhat-designed marble serving plates using stone from Afyon (the marble capital of Turkey) and Flame Plus notebooks with a patch to strike a matchstick on.
The couple definitely likes fire, and the trifecta of flames, food, and design is obviously the basis of their M.O.
Firing up downstairs, the Argentinian grill imported from Texas is where all the restaurant’s fresh twists on ancient Anatolian recipes are made and presented on sizzling platters.
While the meats are cooking, you’ll be presented with a complimentary Nice To Meet plate, which comes with a blackened Turkish siyah bread and a delectable mix of olive oil, cheese, garlic, and herbs.
A collection of shareable mezzes include the Cretan ($10), a ball of feta, goat cheese and pistachio.
The Cerkez Tavugu ($13) is a chicken breast mix with garlic and pickles, and the Muamma ($8), my favourite, is a garlicky tomato and red pepper paste that goes well with bread.
The Despina mezze ($19) comes in an extravagant cloche filled with smoke.
This dish of bulbous squid tubes comes stuffed with squid legs, shrimp, and clam meat in a sweet pepper sauce.
Seven pieces of kefir-marinated jumbo chicken wings arrive with The Winger ($22), along with grilled veggies.
The lamb rack ($38) is a particularly juicy French cut lamb rack marinated with coconut milk and served with grilled artichoke and mint jus.
The Delicioso ($29) is osso buco—veal shank—with an assortment of dried fruits like plum, with almond tomato sauce and white wine.
For dessert, a delicious take on kunafa comes in a delicious cube ($12) instead of a flat pan with fior de latte and pistachio liquor cream butter.
A shot of Yeni Raki is encouraged to go with your meal, regardless what time it is—nothing like adding alcohol to the flames in the middle of the day to really get things going.