1. Oysters, those slippery, subtly salty little bivalves, get the star treatment at a new Financial District saloon with considerable cachet. Amidst the East Coast-chic decor of reclaimed wainscoting and antique tin ceiling tiles at Rodney’s By Bay, the area’s elite can luxuriously slurp their favourite market-priced mollusks. Five to 10 different oyster varieties are available here each day, with quality controlled by owner John Belknap, who spent the past five years at renowned Rodney’s Oyster House. (Though not a franchise of that famed restaurant, Rodney’s By Bay does have the blessing of celebrated shucker Rodney Clark.) And if a preferred variety is out of season, there’s always beer-battered haddock with chips ($15) and the hand-pulled lobster roll ($21) to satisfy your seafood cravings.
2. Forget for a second the clubhouse and back bacon on a bun; Toronto’s hottest sandwiches are the fresh-grilled varieties at Negroni. Authentic Italian panini are the focus of this casual College Street resto from the owners of neighbourhood staple Sidecar, with fillings like prosciutto, oven-dried tomato and buffalo mozzarella ($12), and asparagus, goat cheese and peperonata ($9). Still hungry? A short list of antipasto-style plates is also offered.
3. Travel west along King Street and you’ll pass quickly through a number of diverse sectors of the city—the Financial District at Bay Street, the Theatre District and the Fashion District near Spadina Avenue. No matter your allegiance, the King Street Social Kitchen has room for all. Sleek yet welcoming in the renovated Hyatt Regency Toronto hotel, the restaurant offers small and large plates prepared by a multicultural team of chefs—each brings his or her expertise to the table with authentically global dishes such as Phuket chicken and noodles ($23), sweet and sour sticky ribs ($27) and paella mixta with shrimp, clams and mussels ($25 for two). Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. 370 King St. W., 416-343-1234.
4. It is claimed that losing one of your five senses promotes an intensification of the remaining four. Put that notion to the test at O. Noir, Toronto’s first dine-in-the-dark restaurant. Imported from Montreal, the concept eatery offers two- and three-course set menus ($32 and $39) presented by blind servers and consumed in a pitch-black dining room. Lacking sight, you’ll appreciate your entree’s texture, aroma and, of course, taste all the more.