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Where to Eat Toronto

Little Sister Serves up Traditional Indonesian Fare

Little Sister. Photo by Craig Moy.

Photo by Craig Moy.

At midtown bistro Quince, chef and restaurateur Michael van den Winkel is known for doling out vibrant, easygoing Mediterranean fare—plus the occasional rijsttafel, an elaborate colonial-era Dutch-Indonesian “rice table” featuring 20 or more dishes. At Little Sister, van den Winkel commits fully to the Southeast Asian portion of his culinary inheritance, presenting a well-considered menu of street-style small plates and traditional Indonesian indulgences—from flavourful chicken, pork and swordfish skewers to Javanese dark spiced braised beef. Snacking and sharing are encouraged at this casual, colourful restaurant, with tropically inspired cocktails plus wines selected by Master Sommelier John Szabo serving ably as social lubricant. —Craig Moy

• Little Sister, 2031 Yonge St., 416-488-2031; littlesistertoronto.com
Map and reviews

DaiLo Serves Up Eclectic Chinese Dishes

DaiLo's "Big Mac" bao. Photo by Jim Norton Photography.

DaiLo’s “Big Mac” bao. Photo by Jim Norton Photography.

The prize for this year’s most anticipated Toronto restaurant surely goes to DaiLo. Chef Nick Liu has been teasing his Asian brasserie concept for two years, but circumstances conspired to ensure that he lacked permanent digs until just a couple of months ago. It’s been worth the wait: the Chinoiserie-chic dining room is a stylish yet high-energy space in which to enjoy Liu’s eclectic dishes, which alternate between upmarket renditions of traditional Chinese fare (for example, sweet-and-sour pork hock with jellyfish slaw) and unabashed mash-ups like his “Big Mac” bao. Keeping with prevailing trends, DaiLo also accommodates smaller appetites: upstairs bar LoPan offers casual snacks and cocktails (try the five spice–spiked dark and stormy).
—Craig Moy

• DaiLo, 503 College St., 647-341-8882; dailoto.com
• Map and reviews

Feed Your Hunger for Pan-Asian Fare

Patois, Toronto. Photo by Barb Simkova for Tara McMullen Photography.

Sharing plates at Patois. Photo by Barb Simkova for Tara McMullen Photography.

If this month’s Hot Dining eateries aren’t enough to sate your appetite for Far East fare, the city’s recent Asian infusion is even more substantial. Pai represents yet another buzz-worthy boîte from Nuit and Jeff Regular, Toronto’s reigning Thai food champions, where chef Nuit serves up her signature offerings (khao soi, Massaman curry) plus other Northern Thai–style dishes. The culinary journey continues at Lucky Red (318 Spadina Ave., 416-792-8628), a bao bar from the owners of Banh Mi Boys that boasts steamed- or baked-bun sandwiches filled with pork belly, panko-crusted tofu, fried chicken and other trendy ingredients. Or indulge in some unexpected island hopping at Patois, which sees pedigreed chef Craig Wong present plates that draw on both Chinese and Jamaican flavours.
—Craig Moy

Cluny Adds French Flair to the Distillery District

(photos: Paula Wilson)

(photos: Paula Wilson)

Cluny turns the stereotype of the intimate French restaurant on its head: the recent addition to the Distillery District is a gigantic, designed-to-the-hilt bistro that brings the Belle Époque to a former tank house. Thus the building’s industrial remnants are spruced up with ornately painted floor tiles, marble surrounding both a cocktail and raw bar, and cabinets filled with antiques. It’ll be hard to take your eyes off the decor; fortunately the dishes are equally enticing. Created by experienced fine-dining chef Paul Benallick, the menu focuses on updated versions of French classics, plus a few Moroccan and Mediterranean interpolations. Try ginger-chili frog legs, for example, or indulge in selections from the seafood counter.  —Craig Moy

• Cluny, 35 Tank House Ln., 416-203-2632; clunybistro.com
Map and reviews

Savour Mexican Dinner and Drinks at Los Colibris and El Caballito

Enjoy upscale Mexican dinner and drinks at Los Colibris (photos: Lauren Vandenbrook)

Enjoy upscale Mexican dinner and drinks at Los Colibris (photos: Lauren Vandenbrook)

A double serving of Mexican fare awaits in the Entertainment District. Earlier this year, the lower level of an Edwardian heritage building became home to decidedly contemporary tequila bar El Caballito, which boasts dozens of varieties of the agave-derived spirit, plus street-style dishes like tacos and antojitos. More recently, the “little horse” made room for the “hummingbirds”—Los Colibris, the tequileria’s second-storey sister space, which serves up refined Mexican dishes by chef Elia Herrera. You won’t find burritos and quesadillas here. Instead, Latin flavours come through in a variety of ceviches, meaty mains like confit pork belly in adobo sauce, and shareable options like a whole roasted sea bass with seafood stuffing.  —Craig Moy

• El Caballito, 220 King St. W., 416-628-9838; elcaballito.ca
Map and reviews

• Los Colibris, 220 King St. W., 416-979-7717; loscolibris.ca
Map and reviews

Queen West Restaurant The Good Son Aims to Please

(photos: Craig Moy)

(photos: Craig Moy)

Naming one’s business The Good Son implies a certain amount of geniality, and indeed, chef Vittorio Colacitti’s new Queen West restaurant aims to please—by drawing together the corners of the culinary world. A contestant on season four of Top Chef Canada, Colacitti applies the lessons of his varied cooking experiences—he’s worked in both fine-dining and corporate kitchens, and had stints at pizzerias in Toronto and Italy—to rise to the challenge of an ambitiously cosmopolitan carte that prioritizes seasonal and local ingredients, but uses them in dishes such as jerk shrimp, sarsaparilla side ribs and a half-dozen wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s large dining room is adorned with antique clocks, plates, photographs and other welcome reminders of home.  —Craig Moy

• The Good Son, 1096 Queen St. W., 416-551-0589; thegoodsontoronto.com
Map and reviews

Embark on a Sweet Excursion with Tasty Tours

Tasty-Tours-Distillery-District

If you’re looking to experience Toronto’s toothsome side, look no further than a morning excursion with Tasty Tours. Led by Audrey Ooi, the Oh Canada! Farmer’s Market Sweets Tour focuses on distinctly Canuck treats such as maple syrup, honey and the classic Canadian dessert, butter tarts. Local purveyors offer their own insight on fresh, handmade goodies, including apple rosemary jelly and rhubarb orange chutney from Spade & Spoon Preserves (who also stock maple syrup in dark, medium and light grades), artisanal chocolate from Soma, shortbread, macarons and biscotti from Sweet Escape Patisserie, flavoured honey from Hi Honey, and goat cheese truffles and goat milk caramel from Haute Goat. Distillery District, tours are held every Sunday starting at 10 a.m., adults $39.82, kids $26.55; visit tastytourstoronto.com to book.  —Linda Luong

Queen West’s The Good Son Aims to Please

(photos: Craig Moy)

(photos: Craig Moy)

Naming one’s business The Good Son implies a certain amount of geniality, and indeed, chef Vittorio Colacitti’s new Queen West restaurant aims to please—by drawing together the corners of the culinary world. A contestant on season four of Top Chef Canada, Colacitti applies the lessons of his varied cooking experiences—he’s worked in both fine-dining and corporate kitchens, and had stints at pizzerias in Toronto and Italy—to rise to the challenge of an ambitiously cosmopolitan carte that prioritizes seasonal and local ingredients, but uses them in dishes such as jerk shrimp, sarsaparilla side ribs and a half-dozen wood-fired pizzas. The restaurant’s large dining room is adorned with antique clocks, plates, photographs and other welcome reminders of home.  —Craig Moy

• The Good Son, 1096 Queen St. W., 416-551-0589; thegoodsontoronto.com
Map and reviews

You Are Here: Eat, Shop and Gallery Hop in Bloordale

BY CRAIG MOY

Daniel Faria Gallery is one of Bloordale's numerous contemporary art spaces

Daniel Faria Gallery is one of Bloordale’s numerous contemporary art spaces

The Yorkville stretch of Bloor Street gets much of the press, but farther west, a formerly industry-focused part of the strip is booming, too, thanks to an influx of art galleries, inventive restaurants and more.

1  Lofty design shop Julien Armand specializes in ultra-stylish seating, including pieces by Gispen and Pedrali. Lighting and other accessories are also available, to provide even more inspiration for contemporary space-sprucing. 213 Sterling Rd., 416-534-5665; julienarmand.com.

2  With a name that nods to the area’s industrial roots, Scrap Metal Gallery displays edgy and eclectic artworks collected by owners Samara Walbohm and Joe Shlesinger. The converted warehouse also hosts occasional performance works and other events. 11 Dublin St., 416-588-2442; scrapmetalgallery.com.

3  Canadian artists make up the majority of the exclusive roster at Daniel Faria Gallery. Among them are well-known iconoclast Douglas Coupland and Toronto-based photographer Chris Curreri, recently shortlisted for the Sobey Art Award. 188 St. Helens Ave., 416-538-1880; danielfariagallery.com.

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Nadège Patisserie’s Macarons Become Collectors’ Items

Steve Krug's limited-edition Nadège macarons box

Photographer Steve Krug’s limited-edition Nadège macarons box

In Paris, macarons from Ladurée are lauded, but in Toronto, it’s Nadège that’s the shrine to this airy French pastry. Though chef Nadège Nourian also offers delectable treats such as chocolate bonbons, marshmallows and cakes, her meringue-based bites have really won over locals. Indulge in them yourself, then give them as a gift: they’re available in travel-friendly boxes with an assortment of flavours, including blackberry chocolate and salted caramel. Several Canadian artists have also collaborated with Nadège on a series of limited-edition 16-macaron gift boxes ($38), with a new design featured each month. Award-winning Toronto photographer Steve Krug’s contemporary concept (pictured) is available starting September 5 while supplies last.  —Linda Luong

• Nadège Patisserie, 780 Queen St. W., 416-368-2009; nadege-patisserie.com
Map and reviews

Montecito Gives Toronto Diners a Seat in the Spotlight

(photos: Steve Krug)

(photos: Steve Krug)

The Entertainment District—home, of course, to the Toronto International Film Festival—has gained even more celebrity cachet with the recent opening of Montecito, the brainchild of Toronto-born filmmaker Ivan Reitman and revered chef Jonathan Waxman, one of the pioneers of California cuisine. That cooking style’s elegant simplicity is the basis for the 280-seat restaurant’s daily menu (So-Cal is also cited in the decor, too, including two large screens that display the view from Reitman’s Montecito home), but farm-fresh Canadian ingredients are the stars of the show. Anticipate such spotlight-worthy dishes as New York strip steak with roasted beets, speckled trout with yellow beans and sauce gribiche, and Waxman’s signature roast chicken with salsa verde. And don’t forget to indulge in the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man baked Alaska—an ode to Reitman’s Ghostbusters—before the curtain falls on your feast.  —Craig Moy

• Montecito, 299 Adelaide St. W., 416-599-0299; montecitorestaurant.ca
Map and reviews

You Are Here: Eat, Explore and Relax Along the Harbourfront

HTO Park

HTO Park

1  Inspired by J.S. Bach’s Suites for Unaccompanied Cello, the Toronto Music Garden is a classical green space in both theme and execution: six meticulously tended “movements” are lush with trees, tall grasses and colourful perennials. The garden hosts chamber music performances on Thursdays and Sundays throughout the summer. 479 Queens Quay W., 416-973-4000; harbourfrontcentre.com

2  Watch the boats (and planes) go by beneath a large yellow parasol at HTO Park. The sand-strewn site overlooking Toronto’s inner harbour lends a relaxed, beachy vibe to what was once a fairly nondescript stretch of lakeside real estate. 339 Queens Quay W.

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