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November Editor’s Picks: Dining

Harbour Sixty1. In a historic building just north of the waterfront, Harbour Sixty has long been known for its opulent decor, high quality of service and, of course, culinary excellence. But the elite steakhouse isn’t resting on its laurels. To mark its 10th anniversary, the restaurant boasts a dramatically updated interior. Among the many design features: high, brocade-swathed chairs, suede wallpaper and mother of pearl in the bar area, plus graphic valances and contemporary art by Joshua Jensen-Nagle in the dining space; the two distinct rooms encircle a marble- and agate-lined gallery kitchen that serves up the finest USDA Prime and authentic Kobe beef, fresh seafood and sumptuous desserts. Or, descend to the formal, lower-level dining room, where dark woods and leather foster a clubhouse atmosphere and selections from the superior wine cellar are showcased in sleek glass cabinets.

Union<br>photo by Robert J. Brodey2. At long last, Torontonians and visitors can see for themselves the state of Union, one of the newest restaurants to open on the increasingly hip Ossington Street strip. Thanks to a Toronto Life–backed blog—on which chef Teo Paul documented the many months of successes and setbacks between concept and first service—the farm-to-fork eatery had one of the more hotly anticipated openings in recent memory. It’s quickly become a fixture in an emerging neighbourhood, where dedicated locavores can nosh on fare that uniformly utilizes Ontario-fresh ingredients including grain-fed elk, artisan cheeses and seasonal organic vegetables straight from farmers’ fields.

Grace restaurant

Grace restaurant

3. As the cold weather begins to bite, warm your belly with timely takes on comfort-food classics at these welcoming restaurants.

>> The swank dining room of the Drake Hotel belies its carte of toothsome classics like mac ‘n’ cheese ($19) and a po’ boy sandwich with fried cod ($15). Or, try one of executive chef Anthony Rose’s daily blue-plate specials.

>> Modern farmhouse fare dominates the menu at Grace, where dishes such as lamb pot pie ($20) draw inspiration from traditional family dinners. Milk and cookies ($7) bring your meal to a simple yet memorable conclusion.

>> Though its hipster quotient can be intimidating, the food at OddFellows is anything but. The meaty combo of Jack Daniels–braised pork belly and spiced short rib ($16) is enough to make a slow-food lover swoon.

New York Times Spends Time in Toronto

Here at Where Toronto magazine, we’ve dedicated many years exploring this city and reporting back on the best it has to offer. Each member of our seasoned staff has his or her favourites (this editor, for example, is constantly craving chef Martin Kouprie’s cuisine at Pangaea, while a colleague can’t get enough of the timeless treasures at home-and-garden boutique Teatro Verde), but it’s always interesting to get an outside opinion. This past weekend, no less an authority than the New York Times weighed in with its selection of things to see, neighbourhoods to visit and restaurants at which to dine—all part of its regular “36 Hours in…” travel column.

Culinary hot spot Madeline's is among the Toronto restaurants noted by the <i>New York Times</i> (Photo by Neill Sturgess).

Culinary hot spot Madeline's is among the Toronto restaurants noted by the New York Times (Photo by Neill Sturgess).

In particular, the article highlights the über-trendy environs comprising the western portion of downtown Toronto—Queen and King streets west of Spadina Avenue, pointing out Where-approved nosh spots like Madeline’s, Oddfellows and Nyood, plus the contemporary art galleries of West Queen West, the Drake Hotel and more.

All in all it’s a worthwhile read—though it will take much more than a day-and-a-half to experience everything that this city has to offer. Perhaps you should start planning a return visit?