Inigo Toronto


Inigo is the newest restaurant to open on Queen St. across from Trinity Bellwoods Park. I notice that the combination open kitchen/hot-and-cold table/ordering counter is an efficient use of the

cafe-sized space, and small tables made from bamboo are an eco-friendly touch. There is a fresh and welcoming vibe here, and I almost forgot that it used to be Igor Kenk's infamous Bicycle Clinic .

Funny then, is the painting of the old-school bike rider over the front seating area. "Pure coincidence", insists owner and chef Carlos Hernandez, noting that the connection was pointed out to him after he chose the work from his friend Francesco Galle .

Originally from El Salvador, Carlos spent 20 years working at various restaurants in Toronto, most recently completing a 5 year tenure at Torito in Kensington Market . Now with his own space, he offers "a simple menu with something for everyone, at reasonable prices so people can come back often".

Inigo Toronto

Everything on the chalkboard menu is priced separately, encouraging customers to mix and match their own meal. Roast chicken is the main attraction, available whole ($12), or by the quarter to half piece ($3.75 - $6.75). As Carlos gives me a tour, he explains his way of making chicken. They are rubbed with salt the day before, and refrigerated to dry out the skin. Then he coats the skin with spices before popping them in the oven.

The result is an awesome piece of roast chicken (top photo). The skin is golden and crispy, revealing moist meat that falls off the bone. No knife is provided with the fork and spoon, but I don't need it. The juices are absorbed by the fluffy brown basmati rice ($2.50), and the earthy and sweet French lentils & squash ($3.25). I have bites of cold candied beets & apple ($3.50), and the chunks of beet are lightly sweet, like eating dense watermelon, while the chunks of apple are tart and crisp.

Inigo Toronto

Under "Other Species" are Braised Beef Cheeks with Root Vegetables ($6.25). I'm curious about what slow-cooked cow's cheek tastes like, and I can best describe it as eating really good beef stew.

Inigo Toronto

I wolf back the Pork Ribs with Pomegranate Molasses ($6.50) with my hands, and the sweet and sour meat comes off in shreds, making me lick the sticky glaze from my fingers.

I ask Carlos about his plans for the coming months, and he has ideas of salads based on seasonal vegetables, plus more cold dishes for the summer. Eventually he'll figure out what dessert to provide, but for now, it's all about making good roast chicken and keeping things simple.

Inigo Toronto

Inigo is open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:30 am to 7 pm, and Sunday from 11:30 am to 6 pm. Closed Mondays.

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