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Where to Eat Toronto

Far Niente Updates its Financial District Flavours

VENERABLE BAY STREET RESTAURANT FAR NIENTE BOASTS A HUNGRY NEW CHEF AND A REVITALIZED MENU

Far Niente Restauran Toronto Financial District Chef Jun Geem

Chef Jun Geem presides over the kitchen and new menu at Far Niente (photos: Craig Moy)

For two decades, fine dining room Far Niente has been pleasing power lunchers, pre-theatre patrons, and post-work patio goers in the Financial District. It’s a well-liked, reliable place to eat. A new chef and updated menu, however, have given the institution a bit of a shake-up. Now heading the restaurant’s kitchen (as well as that of Four, Far Niente’s more casual PATH-level counterpart) is executive chef Jun Geem, an alumnus of George Brown College’s culinary program who’s cooked everywhere from London’s Fat Duck and Nobu to luxury hotels in Dubai, Mexico and Bermuda.

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The One Eighty Boasts New Food & Great Views

HIGH ABOVE BLOOR-YORKVILLE, STYLISH RESTO-LOUNGE THE ONE EIGHTY IS KNOWN FOR ITS PANORAMIC VIEWS OF THE CITY

The One Eighty Restaurant Toronto Manulife Centre

One of Toronto’s highest perches for food and drink is aiming even higher—figuratively, of course—with a renewed focus on its gastronomic offerings. Previously a swish cocktail spot known as the Panorama Lounge, the 51st-floor venue, now dubbed The One Eighty, has been renovated and reimagined as a luxurious yet whimsical dining destination, featuring cosmopolitan fare that ranges from halibut tacos to flatbread-style pizzas to mains like porchetta with summer succotash or buttermilk fried chicken and waffles. The cocktail list has been updated, too. In fact, about the only thing unchanged is the view: the restaurant’s skyscraping north- and south-facing patios are among the better vantage points from which to see the city.  —Craig Moy

• The One Eighty, 55 Bloor St. W., 416-967-0000; the51stfloor.com
Map and reviews

You Are Here: Eat, Shop and Explore Corktown

IT HASN’T ALWAYS BEEN THE NICEST STRETCH OF DOWNTOWN, BUT CORKTOWN, ONE OF TORONTO’S ORIGINAL NEIGHBOURHOODS, IS IN THE MIDST OF A REVITALIZATION—NOT LEAST BECAUSE OF ITS PROXIMITY TO THE PAN AM GAMES’ SPRAWLING ATHLETES’ VILLAGE.

Corktown Toronto Ethel 20th Century Living

Ethel 20th Century Living (photo: Craig Moy)

1 Billed as as a space “where Mad Men meets your best friend’s basement,” Ethel 20th Century Living sets patterned kitchenware and vintage tchotchkes amongst retro furniture, classic movie posters and more. Most of it would’ve been right at home in Don Draper’s Manhattan pad. 327 Queen St. E., 416-778-6608; ethel20thcenturyliving.com

2 Definitely one of the area’s pricier retailers, Haven supports the sartorial ambitions of savvy lads with international streetwear labels like Comme des Garçons, Neighborhood and Human Made. Designer sneakers are a particular forte. 145 Berkeley St., 647-344-4745; havenshop.ca

3 Cocina Economica, the sixth and newest member of the Playa Cabana group of restaurants, a popular mini-chain known for its Mexican fare and colourful ambience. This spot mostly eschews tacos in favour of homestyle fare like slow-cooked meats sold—and meant to be shared—by the pound. 141 Berkeley St., 647-748-4777; playacabana.ca

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R&D Boasts Modern Chinese Fare from Two Big Chefs

CHINATOWN RESTAURANT R&D SEES MICHELIN-STARRED CHEF ALVIN LEUNG JOIN WITH MASTERCHEF CANADA WINNER ERIC CHONG TO OFFER CONTEMPORARY CHINESE BITES

R&D Restaurant Chinatown Toronto Alvin Leung Eric Chong

R&D’s modern Chinese menu includes interpretations of sweetbreads and octopus (photos: Allison Woo)

It’s big news when the inaugural winner of Masterchef Canada opens his first restaurant. It’s even bigger news when that restaurant is a joint venture with one of the world’s most celebrated chefs. No surprise, then, that R&D would be one of the city’s buzzier spring openings. From chefs Eric Chong—the aforementioned Masterchef victor—and Alvin Leung, whose highly experimental Bo Innovation in Hong Kong holds three Michelin stars, the modish Chinatown dining room boasts contemporary Chinese-Canadian cuisine as its main draw. A few novel dim sum offerings lead in to a more robust menu of shareable dishes like lobster chow mein, General Sanders’ chicken (with kung pao sauce and Sichuan maple syrup), and a ceviche of scallops plus spot- and tiger prawns. Naturally, a selection of original Asian-inspired cocktails is also available.  —Craig Moy

• R&D, 214 Spadina Ave., 416-586-1241; rdspadina.com
Map and reviews

Taste of Toronto Returns to Fort York

NOW IN ITS SECOND YEAR, TASTE OF TORONTO BOASTS GOURMET FOOD, WINE AND CULINARY FUN IN THE HEART OF THE CITY

Taste of Toronto Fort York 2015

Chefs including Cory Vitiello and Carl Heinrich are returning for Taste of Toronto’s second year

JULY 2 TO 5 If there’s a recipe for presenting a successful food event, more than 20 worldwide Taste Festivals seem to have found it. Of course, tweaking a few ingredients can make for an even more flavourful mix. Thus Taste of Toronto has added a handful of new chefs to its sophomore attempt at wooing the city’s foodies. Manning Fort York‘s gourmet small-plates stations this year are the likes of chefs Jonathan Waxman and Matt Robertson from Montecito, Ted Corrado from the Drake Hotel and Adrian Niman from Rasa—not to mention returning toques like THR & Co. chef Cory Vitiello and Carl Heinrich of Richmond Station. Michelin-starred chef Masaharu Morimoto will also be on hand to debut dishes from his new Toronto restaurant, opening later this year. Cooking classes, wine tastings and more encourage epicurean interactivity, while a marketplace boasts 60-plus vendors to savour. General admission $19 to $30 (additional cost for food).  —Craig Moy

• Taste of Toronto, Fort York National Historic Site, 250 Fort York Blvd.; tasteoftoronto.com
• Map and reviews

Summerlicious and More Prix-Fixe Menus in Toronto

THE RETURN OF SUMMERLICIOUS MEANS TORONTO DINERS CAN ONCE AGAIN SAVE ON SAMPLING THE MENUS AT TOP RESTAURANTS. BUT THE SEASONAL DINING DEAL ISN’T THE ONLY WAY TO GET CULINARY BANG FOR YOUR BUCK!

Summerlicious Toronto Prix Fixe Menus

From left: dessert at 360 restaurant; George executive chef Lorenzo Loseto; the Shore Club’s dining room

DEALS FOR MEALS
One of the city’s best loved dining programs is back—this year for an extra week to give Pan Am Games visitors a chance to enjoy the flavourful fun. From July 3 to 26, Summerlicious sees more than 200 restaurants offering prix-fixe lunch ($18 to $28) and dinner ($25 to $45) menus. Among the returning participants are Canoe, Momofuku Daisho and The Shore Club, while the likes of as Bestellen and District Oven are involved for the first time.

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Gourmet Barbecued Pies from Za Pizzeria

RECENT ANNEX ADDITION ZA PIZZERIA SPECIALIZES IN FRESH-MADE, BARBECUE-COOKED TAKE-OUT PIZZAS WITH GOURMET TOPPINGS

Za Pizzeria Toronto Annex

Za Pizzeria (photos: Craig Moy)

Toronto has no shortage of gourmet pizza parlours, but the options dwindle considerably if you’re pressed for time or just seeking a single slice. Enter Za Pizzeria. Or rather: you should enter Za Pizzeria. Recently opened by husband-and-wife team Jason and Lisa Costantini, the Annex-area joint does a brisk business in take-out pies cooked in custom-designed barbecue ovens, which impart a pleasant hint of wood smoke to the savoury thin-crust offerings. Jason spent more than a decade as a chef in the kitchens of Susur, Pizzeria Libretto and elsewhere, so it’s no surprise that made-to-order freshness is the, well, order of the day: all sauces, sautéed and caramelized veg, and sous vide-cooked meats are prepared in-house, and comprise pizzas ranging from a traditional margherita to unique and delicious options like the maple syrup-, bacon- and potato chip-topped “Oh Canada” and a pie with duck confit, roasted grapes and balsamic reduction. Smaller appetites are assured just-off-the-grill goodness: slices and half pizzas are guaranteed to sit for no more than 30 minutes.  —Craig Moy

• Za Pizzeria, 402 Bloor St. W., 416-345-9292; za-pizzeria.com

Quick Pick: 3 Church Street Restaurants That are Perfect for Pride Patrons

ATTENDING THIS MONTH’S PRIDE TORONTO FESTIVITIES? FUEL UP FOR THE FUN AT THESE CHURCH STREET RESTAURANTS

Church Street Restaurants Pride Toronto Dining

(Smith photo courtesy of Smith; The Keg photo courtesy of The Keg)

• At the south end of the Gaybourhood sits Guu Izakaya, a boisterous, cosmopolitan Japanese pub where you can down some takoyaki, karaage, deep-fried tofu and refreshingly affordable cocktails. 398 Church St., 416-977-0999; guu-izakaya.com

• Special-occasion diners, as well as those who simply enjoy a high-quality cut of meat, crowd the historic mansion location of the popular Keg steakhouse chain. Legend has it that at least one ghost haunts the Jarvis Street restaurant’s halls. 515 Jarvis St., 416-964-6609; kegsteakhouse.com

• Though spread across three floors, Smith manages to cultivate an appealingly intimate atmosphere—even during its very popular weekend brunch service. 553 Church St., 416-926-2501; 553church.com

—Craig Moy

Say Cheers to Craft Beer This Month in Toronto

THE CRAFT BEER SCENE IN TORONTO—AND ACROSS THE PROVINCE—CONTINUES TO EXPAND. CHECK OUT SOME OF THE TOP OFFERINGS DURING ONTARIO CRAFT BEER WEEK AND AT FINE BREWPUBS AND BARS AROUND TOWN.

Ontario Craft Beer Week

Session Toronto kicks off Ontario Craft Beer Week this weekend at Yonge-Dundas Square

BIG-TIME TASTING
Ontario Craft Beer Week returns for a sixth annual celebration of small-batch brews. Hundreds of events are scheduled from June 12 to 21 at venues throughout the province—pub crawls, brewmaster dinners, and tours of such facilities as Steam Whistle and Mill Street breweries are just a taste of the offerings. Visit ocbweek.ca for a full list of events and locations.

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Once Old, Peter Pan Bistro is New Again

A LONGTIME QUEEN WEST STAPLE, PETER PAN BISTRO HAS REOPENED WITH NEW OWNERS AND A FOCUSED BUT ADVENTUROUS MENU.

Peter Pan Bistro Toronto

(photo: Craig Moy)

For nearly four decades downtown diners relied on Peter Pan, a bistro that dished honest, though far from trendy fare at a busy corner of Queen Street. New owners and a major renovation have made the restaurant fashionable once again. Vintage fixtures have been restored and mingle with striking new decor elements like wall-mounted animal heads covered in carpet. On the table, chef Noah Goldberg’s ingredient-focused nose-to-tail offerings nod to finer-dining traditions while embracing a contemporary sense of culinary adventure: the daily menu could include the likes of duck pappardelle with mint peas, Welsh rarebit with Worcestershire caviar, and bath chaps (a type of pig cheeks) with celery, wood sorrel and lentils. —Craig Moy

• Peter Pan Bistro, 373 Queen St. W., 416-792-3838; peterpanbistro.ca
Map and reviews

You Are Here: Eat, Shop and Explore in Kensington Market

ARGUABLY DOWNTOWN TORONTO’S MOST DIVERSE AND VIBRANT ‘HOOD, KENSINGTON MARKET OVERFLOWS WITH GREAT LITTLE CAFÉS, ETHNIC EATERIES AND ECLECTIC BOUTIQUES. HERE ARE A FEW OF OUR CURRENT FAVOURITES.

Kensington Market Toronto Blackbird Baking

Blackbird Baking Co. in Kensington Market is one of the city’s finest bread boutiques (photo: Craig Moy)

1 Julian Finkle has been silkscreening t-shirts since before silk-screening t-shirts became cool. His unique designs are the stock-in-trade of Model Citizen, though the sartorial shop also carries other North American and European labels of quality. 279 Augusta Ave., 416-553-6632; modelcitizentoronto.com

2 Good Egg is Toronto foodies’ go-to boutique for all things culinary, with an expertly curated selection of cookbooks and mouth-watering magazines, plus unique kitchen accessories and food-related art. 267 Augusta Ave., 416-593-4663; goodegg.ca

3 A staple for health-conscious Kensington denizens, airy, family-run Hibiscus Café is well known for its gluten-free buckwheat crepes served with vegetarian or vegan fixings. On the go? The nutrient-packed salad bowl will give you hours of energy. 238 Augusta Ave., 416-364-6183; hibiscuscafe.ca

4 Some of the city’s best bread can be found daily at Blackbird Baking Co. Pick up a Toronto Sourdough baguette to fuel your further Kensington Market adventures. 172 Baldwin St., 416-546-2280; blackbirdbakingco.com

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Bar Raval: Toronto’s Hottest Snack Spot

CHEF GRANT VAN GAMEREN BRINGS SPANISH BAR BITES TO A STYLISH ALL-DAY SPACE ON COLLEGE STREET

Bar Raval Toronto

(photo: Craig Moy)

When you’re hot, you’re hot. Bar Isabel has been counted amongst Toronto’s best and most popular restaurants since its early-2013 debut. Two years later, the team behind that destination resto has introduced Bar Raval, already a hit with foodies, cocktail geeks, design aficionados—pretty much everyone. It’s easy to see why. Open morning to late-night, the eatery serves up an array of Spanish snacks—from breakfast pastries to premium canned seafood—to go with your cortado, Sazerac or sherry. Savour them at the Gaudi-esque bar: the curving piece of one-of-a-kind mahogany woodwork, which cost more than $200,000 to produce, is one of the city’s most distinctive seats. —Craig Moy

• Bar Raval, 505 College St.; thisisbarraval.com
Map and reviews