Cowbell is a favourite for locally sourced, sustainable fare (photo by Derek Shapton)
It’s no surprise that some of Toronto’s top-rated restaurants are devotees of the local food movement: sourcing from nearby artisan farms and producers ensures freshness, which in turn guarantees flavour. Any discussion of “slow food” in this city begins with chef Jamie Kennedy, whose Gilead Café & Bistro serves modern Canadian fare that lets his farm-fresh ingredients shine. Tastefully simple, too, are the artisan meats butchered in-house and served at such restaurants as Cowbell and the Black Hoof—the latter’s charcuterie is legendary, as are the bone marrow–filled beignets at its sister space, Hoof Café. Slightly less meat-
centric is chef Teo Paul’s contemporary country cooking at Union—though you’d be remiss not to order the elk sliders.
Of course, using homegrown ingredients doesn’t mean a chef has to forsake global influences. Local Kitchen and Wine Bar preaches respect for one’s ingredients through exceedingly fresh Italian small plates, while amongst chef Victor Barry’s contemporary offerings at Splendido are a handful of traditional pastas plated with family-farmed accompaniments. High-end, internationally inspired cuisine made with Toronto flair can also be found at long-standing favourites like elegant George and Globe Bistro.
Just one of the many artful dishes in chef Masaki Hashimoto's culinary repertoire at Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto
Summer is a season for relaxation—the last thing you ought to be doing is stressing over small decisions. At mealtime, don’t worry about picking the perfect dish from a long list. Instead, put your trust in the exclusive tasting menus of some top chefs. With its dedication to the freshest seasonal ingredients, elegant George has long been one of Toronto’s best dining bets—
elevate the experience by ordering chef Lorenzo Loseto’s 10-course tasting ($150), which includes cheese and dessert courses. Curious gastronomes are invited to book the six-seat “kitchen table” at Colborne Lane, to see chef Claudio Aprile at work and enjoy his diverse 15-course spread ($179). And for a truly memorable meal, allow chef Masaki Hashimoto to please your palate with the unique Japanese dishes on his ever-
changing nine-course carte ($300) at Kaiseki Yu-Zen Hashimoto.
George's courtyard patio
When warm weather finally arrives, Torontonians find lots of reasons to stay outside. Alfresco dining is chief among them, and many of the city’s top restaurants happily oblige. The private courtyard at George fills up at lunchtime as eager eaters enjoy the fresh offerings of lauded chef Lorenzo Loseto. Fuzion Resto-Lounge & Garden also has an outdoor urban oasis, with shade and ambience provided by palm fronds and tropical flowers. Or head to Yorkville’s One, where a large street-level patio means you can combine people watching with your fine dining.
Places to eat, shop and see before or after seeing Anne of Green Gables—The Musical.
—By Amy Baker
EAT Anne’s rousing nature and appetite for adventure on Canada’s East Coast may inspire a hankering for some fresh seafood delicacies. Within walking distance from the Elgin Theatre, Bâton Rouge serves delicious tuna steak, seared rare and drizzled with lime and ginger dressing, while nearby Superior prepares steamed mussels and pan-seared spicy calamari for appetizers. If you’re in the mood for Italian, try the rustic offerings at Osteria Ciceri e Tria (106 Victoria St., 416-955-0258), and for a memorable, upscale dining experience, order chef Lorenzo Loseto’s tasting menu at George. After the show, unwind with a premium cocktail in the refined yet casual environs of Pantages Martini Bar & Lounge.