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Brad Long

December Editor’s Picks: Dining

Tangy chaat from 259 Host

Tangy chaat at 259 Host

1. If there’s one thing this city doesn’t lack, it’s Indian restaurants. But when one opens with the pedigree of 259 Host, it’s hard not to take notice. The newest of four Host-branded establishments—the others are in Yorkville, Richmond Hill and Mississauga—retains the same award-winning recipes of chef and co-owner Sanjeev Sethi, but adds a modern touch to create a true fine-dining experience. In the upscale, downtown space, diners can expect the distinct tastes of the subcontinent in such dishes as tandoor-cooked lamb chops with vindaloo sauce ($22), yogurt-brushed black tiger shrimp accompanied by salsa chutney ($19) and, of course, rich and creamy butter chicken ($17), touted as Toronto’s best.

Maple-marinated chicken drumsticks<br>photo by Rick O'Brien

Maple-marinated chicken drumsticks (photo by Rick O'Brien)

2. If you find yourself wandering the city’s west end, trust that you’ll receive a warm welcome at My Place: A Canadian Pub. Recently opened, the neighbourhood watering hole and restaurant already draws its share of jovial locals, but even on busy nights there’s likely to be room for one (or some) more—with 18,000 square feet spread over four floors, there’s ample space for dining, drinking, listening to a live band or watching the big game. But don’t confuse accessible with ordinary. My Place’s menu was created by star chef Brad Long, and offers mostly local fare including maple-marinated chicken drumsticks ($9), grilled pickerel ($18) and rib-eye steak ($32). Savour it with a vintage from the Ontario-heavy wine list.

3. Perusing the array of boutiques at the Shops at Don Mills can be a daylong endeavour. These enticing eateries help ensure you’re well fueled for an extended session of retail therapy.

Linda Restaurant

Linda Restaurant

>> Top caterer and “wellness entrepreneur” Rose Reisman helped design the menu at Glow Fresh Grill and Wine Bar, which offers light, healthy takes on such dishes as pan-seared black cod ($17) and lamb chops drizzled with pomegrante molasses ($29).

>> Embark on a culinary world tour at the first Toronto location of Vancouver-based chain Joey—the inviting high-end spot serves up everything from an Atlantic lobster grilled-cheese sandwich ($15) to Bombay butter chicken ($17).

>> The elegant yet modern interior of Linda by top design firm Munge Leung reflects this Thai restaurant’s upscale offerings of golden-curry beef ($15.50), crispy duck ($18.50) and mango shrimp ($18.50).

Green Gastronomy

The movement to make eating a healthier and more environmentally friendly affair is bigger than ever. Free-range meat is sold everywhere, the 100-mile diet is ingrained in our lexicon, and even the White House has a vegetable garden. In Toronto, a number of chefs and restaurants have long promoted a more sustainable dining experience with seasonal, locally sourced ingredients in oft-changing but always delicious menus. Where presents a primer on a few of the well-regarded establishments that are giving this city’s foodies even more reasons to go green.  BY ALEX HUGHES

Cowbell (photo by Derek Shapton)ANIMAL APPRECIATION
“From farm to table, nose to tail” is the motto of popular west-end bistro Cowbell, which embraces “full boar” many of the slow food movement’s principles by sourcing only the freshest seasonal ingredients for its high-end fare. Almost all of the organic meats—from Berkshire pork to red deer—and produce served here are from Ontario farms, and it’s also one of the few restaurants in Toronto to buy whole animals, which are butchered, smoked and cured on-site. It’s no wonder Toronto diners still clamour for chef Mark Cutrara’s daily menu. An added bonus: Cowbell hosts reservation-only “Farmers Nights,” where a five-course meal is created using ingredients from a single farm. Along with chef Cutrara, the featured farmers are also on-hand to discuss their craft at the restaurant’s communal table.