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Mark McEwan

Mark McEwan Takes Over Diwan at the Aga Khan Museum



The serene Diwan dining room at the Aga Khan Museum (photo: Janet Kimber)

At museums, change is inevitable. It’s most evident in the opening and closing of temporary exhibitions and special events, but evolution also occurs elsewhere—in the way programs are delivered, in the layout of galleries, and, in the case of the Aga Khan Museum, the operation of its food and beverage services. Late last year, the celebrated institution for Islamic art and culture partnered with chef Mark McEwan to revamp the offerings at its Diwan restaurant. Though McEwan’s background isn’t exactly steeped in the cuisine of the Islamic diaspora, he’s nothing if not adaptable: his restaurants’ culinary profiles range from contemporary Continental (North 44) to brassy North American (Bymark) to rustic Italian (Fabbrica), and his two upscale supermarkets demonstrate his long history of sourcing the absolute best ingredients. At Diwan, the chef and his team have retained the restaurant’s artful approach to Middle Eastern, North African and South Asian cooking, while also making its lunchtime dishes a little more accessible. A traditional wedge salad, for example, gets a Moroccan twist with cilantro mint dressing, tamarind chutney and crispy daal, while salmon is glazed with harissa and served with quinoa, falafel and pomegranate yogurt. What hasn’t changed, however, is the beautiful, serene dining room, which is accented by hand-carved and painted wood panels dating back to 19th-century Damascus.  —Craig Moy

• Diwan, Aga Khan Museum, 77 Wynford Dr., 416-646-4670; agakhanmuseum.org/dine
• Map and reviews

Staff Picks: 5 Great Sit-Down-and-Savour Restaurant Burgers

The Bymark Burger is a favourite of Bay Street's power players (photo by Claudia Hung)

Last week we broke down our five favourite burger joints in Toronto. But of course they’re not the only spots for amazing grilled-meat patties. Lots of full-service restaurants—both casual and upscale—prepare excellent, mouthwatering specialty burgers with all sorts of elaborate ingredients. (more…)

11 Must-Try Restaurants at Toronto’s Winterlicious

Estiatorio Volos

Of the 175 restaurants participating in this year’s Winterlicious event in Toronto, Toronto Life magazine’s food editor has narrowed the field to 11 favourites.

Winterlicious is an annual event in which participating restaurants create a three-course, prix-fixe menu (usually with three to four options for each course) at lower-than-average prices. It’s an opportunity to try out some of the city’s best big-ticket restaurants without breaking the bank. (more…)

Hot Dining: Excitement You Can Eat at the Delicious Food Show

Lynn Crawford is but one of the top chefs at the Delicious Food Show

OCTOBER 20 TO 23 Canada’s premier culinary expo cooks up a storm for three and a half days of taste bud bliss. The Delicious Food Show brings together world-class chefs alongside lifestyle and decor experts to showcase the best in both cooking and entertaining. Top Toronto chefs including Lynn Crawford, Corbin Tomaszeski, Mark McEwan and others flaunt their skills on the Delicious Celebrity Kitchen Stage, while seminars offer advice on everything from cake decorating to hosting a fabulous Sunday brunch. Exhibition Place, Better Living Centre, admission $20 ($75 for opening night preview); call 416-960-9161 or visit here for more information.

You Are Here: Uptown Yonge

This northerly section of Yonge Street mixes name-brand and upscale-independent shops, restaurants and a bustling vibe that’s both urbane and neighbourly.

View You Are Here: Uptown Yonge in a larger map

North 44

NAME RECOGNITION The first and arguably most revered of top chef Mark McEwan’s four Toronto businesses, North 44° has been an uptown destination for more than 20 years. Longtime McEwan protégé Sash Simpson runs the kitchen at this refined restaurant, and dishes out contemporary classics like roasted squab, pan-seared Dover sole and herb-crusted ostrich.

LOCAL TREAT An alternative to the area’s abundant chain coffee shops is La Bohème Café Patisserie. Though relatively spacious, the room is often filled with patrons indulging in Te Aro coffee and fresh-made tarts, French pastries, and savoury snacks like sandwiches and quiches. If the weather is suitable, opt for a seat on the secluded back patio.

PUT ON THE RITZ The valets at Centro get a workout most evenings as the venerable restaurant attracts Toronto’s big spenders to its swanky space. Lately, chef Jason Carter has reinvigorated the menu with striking seasonal flavours—dishes range from mozzarella ravioli to a creamy lobster thermidor—while a long wine list has international vintages at many price points.

Pistachio (photo by Gizelle Lau)

GREEN GOODS Organic, sustainable, biodegradable—just a few of the adjectives that can be applied to the wares at eco-friendly gift boutique Pistachio. Here, environmentally aware consumers can peruse natural beauty products, small items for the home, children’s toys and more. A selection of social stationery and fair-trade chocolate treats help make your purchase complete.

HOME BREW Health- and flavour-conscious uptowners have made the Yonge Street location of David’s Tea a neighbourhood staple. Upon entry you’ll be offered a tea-of-the-day taste, but be sure to pick up a few sachets, too. The sheer variety—from delicate Bai Hao Yin Zhen white tea to delightful Cream of Earl Grey—can be overwhelming, but enthusiastic staff are always ready to offer up their favourites.

THE EYES HAVE IT Ladies look luxurious at Pretty in the City. The slim and trim beauty bar is known for its eyelash extensions—a signature treatment guaranteed to add movie-star glam—but also deals with hair elsewhere through shaping, tinting and waxing. Shellac and Gelish polishes are used for manicures and pedicures to ensure up to two weeks of non-chip colour.

Hot Dining: Fabbrica, Mark McEwan’s Latest Digs

Photo by Ben Rahn, A-Frame Inc.

Super-chef Mark McEwan is at it again. Already the owner of downtown dining destinations One, Bymark and North 44°, his empire recently expanded with the opening of Fabbrica. An Italian restaurant with Canadian sensibilities, the large, designer-casual space accommodates all comers at the suburban Shops at Don Mills. The authentically rustic menu featuring varied salumi and antipasti offerings, plus house-made pastas, Neapolitan-style pizzas and mains like braised short ribs ($26), sea bream ($28) and smoked quail ($28) upholds McEwan’s high culinary standards—and those of his hungry patrons.


2010 Dining Guide: Looking at Cooking

These four Toronto-based chefs take to the airwaves weekly on the Food Network
to offer insights into their craft.

Hot Dining: TV Chefs Get Real

Roger Mooking

Supplement your celebrity-spotting experience during this month’s Toronto International Film Festival by dining at the restaurants of these TV-star chefs.

1 Originally an award-winning soul musician, Roger Mooking now spices things up as the head chef for hip fusion joints Kultura and Nyood. He also shows off his recipes and ebullient personality on Food Network Canada’s Everyday Exotic.

2 On The Heat, chef Mark McEwan balances a recently opened fine-food emporium, a high-end catering company and three hugely successful restaurants. Like what you see on the tube? You can nosh on McEwan’s sophisticated contemporary cuisine—and maybe catch him in action—at North 44, Bymark and One.

3 Lynn Crawford is well known to Torontonians for injecting freshness into tired kitchens on Restaurant Makeover. These days, the top chef shares her love of local ingredients at her lauded farm-to-table restaurant Ruby Watchco, and on the culinary road show Pitchin’ In.

Hot Dining: Patio Season

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.

February Editor’s Picks: Dining

Buca's industrial-chic interior (photo by Jessica Napier).

1. The rustic Italian heavyweights of Toronto’s dining scene have a new challenger in Buca, a supremely hip yet still homey restaurant that recently opened on King Street West. Brainchild of the owners of similarly stylish steakhouse Jacobs & Co., the industrial-chic space—exposed brick, iron girders, bare light bulbs—suggests tastes both modern and timeless, ably reflected in the daily menu of Italophilic fare conjured by Mark McEwan protégé Rob Gentile. The chef’s authentic offerings are priced in the $12 to $39 range, and could include fresh pastas like veal cappelletti or duck egg tagliatelle, authentically adorned thin-crust pizzas, and, in acquiescence to a growing trend, a variety of flavourful house-cured meats.

Sweet and sour pork at Zin.

2. The words “fine dining” and “Chinese food” are not always synonymous, but they mesh handsomely in Yorkville, where Zin recently took up residence in a turn-of-the-century home. Aiming for upscale, attentive servers proffer delicately plated dishes that add a French inflection to Cantonese cuisine. A smattering of traditional dim sum options (all $4) such as har gow and spring rolls lead into exemplary mains, from Peking Duck ($48) and slow-baked Ontario squab ($28) to sweet-and-sour pork ($14) and two pounds of lobster cooked any way you like ($42).

Prime restaurant

3. Frightful February weather shouldn’t keep you from a fresh and filling meal. You may find these restos are but an elevator ride away.

>> A mélange of classic dishes and seasonal, locally sourced fare comprises a culinary cornucopia at Annona, aptly named for the Roman goddess of harvest.

>> Yorkville’s One dishes out decadence courtesy of star chef Mark McEwan in a swank room adorned with smoked glass, cowhide leather and tiger-eye onyx.

>> Only top-quality cuts—like Kobe beef striploin ($115)—are served at modern steakhouse Prime. On Sundays, the prime rib dinner ($40) is a meaty value.

>> At Senses, chef Patrick Lin mixes French and Asian inspirations in such entrees as a crispy duck breast ($29) and a trio of crab with tartar sauce and black bean vinaigrette ($27).

>> A mountain-, forest- and ocean-inspired interior reflects the Canadian cuisine—such as birch syrup–glazed arctic char and foie gras ($34)—at Tundra.

You Are Here: Yorkville Avenue

Nestled in tony Bloor-Yorkville, this cobblestoned thoroughfare boasts a selection of upscale stores and restaurants.

Click on any map marker for more information on Where Toronto’s neighbourhood favourites.

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