Where to go in the dog days of summer….
Farmhouse Tavern, 1627 Dupont, 416-561-9114
The chic barnyard look, a faded provincial farmhouse with tractor seats for bar stools, hides Farmhouse Tavern’s sophistication. Informed service, chalkboard menu which includes a superb take on the essential cold vichyssoise, the chef Daniel Janetos’ Garden Dumpling, little triangles of potato dough stuffed in creamed spinach and nutmeg. Grabbed a trend too – ASH – charcoaly grilled bread dipped in saffron-tinged fish broth. Reasonable .
ST CLAIR WEST
Catch 744 Saint Clair W.416 658-0568
The fish are jumping from the pan of Nova Scotian Nigel Finley at Catch where the fins include selection of Rodney’s oysters, clambake, perfect halibut with lachshinken, lobster mashed potatoes and shredded brussel sprouts with parmesan and hazelnuts.Amaretto macerated oranges come with a lactose-rich Tres Leches cake. Great airy room, knowledgeable service. Moderate.
Hawker Bar,164 Ossington, 647 343 4698
Invest in this Street food Future. Prescient joint in a town now turning on to wheel-driven snacks. Named after the original food hawkers before Singapore corralled them into food malls, Hawker Bar crams a lot of hot spices into a small space:Classic Lassa, the soup which brings cooling sweat to the foreheads, Chili Salt Tofu dunked into spicy chutney. Deep Fried Bream with lime and ginger sticky sauce. Ginger Tea sensational. A steal.
Yours Truly,229 Ossington 416-533 2243
Chef Jeff Claudio’s nod to Gotham’s rave of the year,Eleven Madison Park, where the chef devises a market-driven dinner around a principal ingredient. Ingredients change weekly this progressive cooking outpost. Examples: earlier this year I enjoyed the Meat menu which included bibb lettuce ssam (Korean wrap) of pork belly, marinated coriander, dash of kimchi, followed by a sliver of beef tongue tossed with persimmon, nutty wheat berry malt and yogurt, red and yellow carrots cooked sous vide. Now - a 19-course tasting menu $85.
L’Avenue, 1568 Bayview 416 485 1568
Otta Zapotocky’s French-inspired bistro has an insouciant air on a crowded block with a pleasantly off base menu devised by Jeremy Dyer, formerly of L.A.B., haute veg. How about a chunk of King Oyster, a soft bauble of a sweetbread, a crunch of bread and fresh parsley coulis or Fried Chicken “A La Basque”, $19. A tower of handcut summer slaw with peppery tomato sauce tops tender fried chicken.- Informed service, good wine. Reasonable
Enoteca Maialino Italiana, 1688 Queen W. 416-551-5251
The signature Sicilian ingredients are on display – eggplant, fennel, chickpeas, the tincture of sweet and sour wafted over from North Africa. Stars:a Mason jar containing a a layered 36-month Parmesan mousse, roasted eggplant puree, tomato sauce not to mention Sicilian chef Roberto Marotta’s pink lamb – Agnello al Marsala infused with-slow-roasted fennel and tomatoes, almonds and the rum-like flavour of the island’s great fortified wine, Marsala. Reasonable.
Chantecler, 1320 Queen W. 416-628-3586
Chef Jeff Poon’s progressive cooking is a welcome sign that experiment is perking along in this burg. A tangle of influences make for subtle eating.Ruby red curls of smoked duck breast, beet, peanuts, raspberry vinaigrette, wild arugula, dehydrated baguette. Potato gnocchi, little velvety dumplings drifting in potato sauce infested with cod roe, which makes salmon roe seem brash, and showered with chives and powdered seaweed. OTT dessert: orange Sea Buckthorn berries mashed into a parfait with soft meringue and toasted pecans. Reasonable.
La Carnita,501 College, 416-964 1555
The Tweats who follow the 140 second food bites, are all over La Carnita, the city’s Tacomania star. The house special is cutely named In Cod We Trust: a soft tortilla stuffed with cod deep-fried in beer batter , limey cream , pickled red cabbage, green apple, cilantro, and soy-based Voltron Sauce – inspired by Wu-Tang Clan’s hip hop, perhaps Drunk Pain. Another two-chili thrill, Crispy Avocado & Frijoles including avocado, jicama, chipotle sauce, cheese and cilantro. Tremendous mojo, need to line up. Reasonable.
YORKVILLEThe Oxley, 121 Yorkville Ave., 647-348-1300
Smart pubbery with a real refuge of a backyard patio fringed with herbs . Taste the smoked salmon with pedigree – London Cure, the Forman family’s cold-smoked – subtly flavoured with salt and oak smoke. Rare sirloin in a sandwich, enough delicious meat to make your own sirloin plate with Tewkesbury Mustard, spiked with horseradish. Good piece of halibut with artichokes. Note devilled kidneys are on the blackboard too. Moderate.