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July Editor’s Picks: Dining

Forte Bistro & Lounge.

1. Opera and ballet lovers have a new option for a pre- or post-show bite. Just steps from the Four Seasons Centre, Forte recently opened in an equally theatrical and surprisingly large space, highlighted by walnut trim in the front-of-house, mirrored red glass and a three-dimensional accent wall in the central dining area, plus a sleek lounge at the rear. Artfully plated bistro fare by chef Greg Argent (formerly of fusion institution Rain) suits the surroundings with such dishes as coq au vin with honey mushrooms ($25) and slow-cooked rabbit with pappardelle ($25). The pre-preformance prix fixe menu offers a streamlined selection for $30—though you’ll want to take time to savour these tastes, efficient servers ensure you’re satiated before the curtain rises across the street.

Oasi2. The youthful yet sophisticated Liberty Village neighbourhood continues to boost its culinary cred with the addition of quadruple-threat dinner-and-drinks destination Oasi. Contemporary with baroque embellishments, the designer space features two bar areas, a comfortable lounge and chic dining room that serves up seasonal, Mediterranean-inspired meals. A toothsome choice: grilled octopus ($13) or a calamari and zucchini fritti ($11) to prime your palate before a 10-ounce striploin entree with fingerling potatoes, asparagus and roasted onion jus ($36). For alfresco feasting on a balmy summer night, choose the cozy patio with 35 seats and a view of the skyline.

The Bymark Burger (photo by Claudia Hung).3. Burgers, those most quintessential of summer entrees, come highly recommended at these local restaurants.

> The burger at Beer Bistro is seasoned with Belgian ale and arrives on a beer-buttermilk bun ($10.95). Pair it with an imported cold one on the large patio.

> Star chef Mark McEwan’s burger at Bymark is notoriously decadent with brie de meaux, grilled king mushroom and shaved truffles ($34.95).

> Ontario beef is served thick and juicy at the Drake Hotel. The Queen West fave’s “classic” burger is tastefully topped with blue cheese, onions, bacon, jalapeños and Dijon aioli ($18).

> Fresh-baked challah bread sandwiches your succulent choice of either Angus beef ($17) or New Zealand lamb ($19)—plus tangy tomato jam and Quebec brie—at Loire.

> At Yellow Griffin Pub there are almost too many burgers: more than 35 options for fixins on eight different patties—beef, pork, chicken, turkey, lamb, veggie, bison and salmon ($9.95 to $13.35).

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