Sunday, March 2, 2014
Monday, February 17, 2014
In a cavernous, underground location down a clandestine alley off of King Street West, chef Rob Gentile has taken Buca from an ambitious Italian restaurant that opened behind schedule to mixed reviews in 2009, into a premier player on Toronto's restaurant circuit. A veteran of the McEwan restaurant group, chef Gentile's meticulous attention to detail has served him well in creating innovative odes to old country classics, breathing a rejuvenating and youthful aura into his discerning brand of Italian cookery.
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Wine lovers rejoiced in July when the Joe Beef / Liverpool House team scooped up another address on their charming Little Burgundy block to open Le Vin Papillon. At long last, David McMillan and Fred Morin had seized the dream of a wine bar. A place where all their favorite side dishes and snackable elements of the brawny food they're celebrated for would be committed to stand unescorted in the spotlight. A place where customers would be free to wander in off the street sans-reservation to discover a glass of a conceivably unfamiliar variety of wine accompanied by a light meal.
Sunday, January 5, 2014
While a handful of sophomore players kept the fires burning this year, the freshman class of 2013 notwithstanding a few exceptional debuts, was relatively bleak compared with years past. Suburban big-box chain restaurants and superficial openings heavy on investment but light on expertise flooded social media. We stood on the sidelines as agents provocateurs lauded a haphazard resurgence of the main between Sherbrooke and Prince Arthur where Pogos and macaroni & cheese tacos appear to have replaced the albeit trendy stomping ground that set in motion many of our city's most recognizable culinary ambassadors. Meanwhile, savants relied on faithful tables and mourned the losses we've all endured as some of Quebec's best restaurants like MAS Cuisine and L'Eau A La Bouche quietly shut their doors forever.
Sunday, December 29, 2013
One of our favorite restaurants in Barcelona came courtesy of a reader recommendation prior to our departure. Around the corner from the luxury shopping and flagship shops of Passeig de Gracia, Cerveseria Catalana is a well-oiled machine cranking out perfectly executed classics to a crowd of walk-ins that never seems to end . There's no getting around the lineup at this exceptionally popular spot where the contemporary dining room is perpetually filled to capacity. No reservations are accepted so you'll have to show up, leave your name with the hostess and wait patiently for your name to be called on the amplifier; your Saturday morning dim sum experience should come in handy in this regard. The atmosphere is casual but the staff are formally dressed, well trained and impressively all business. With easily more than 200 clients to be served and dozens of tables to turn at any given time, working this floor is the epitome of a sink or swim environment that can't help but command the respect of anyone who's worked front of house.
Sunday, December 22, 2013
Imagine you're a fervent professional, a committed tradesman that has amassed all the accolades you could ever dream of; that you've gained the acclaim of every governing body by which your craft is measured. You've reigned at the top of your industry for nearly a decade, and been a captain and mentor to a legion of younger practitioners. You've innovated and altered the means and techniques by which your pursuit is practiced, shattered boundaries, broken down walls and forever changed the rules. What do you do next?
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Tapas: The word itself is like that song you love until the radio plays it so much you want to drive a sharpened pencil into your ear every time you hear it. It's a word that's been indiscriminately exploited and bastardized in North America for over a decade. It's tough to put our finger on exactly when the bandwagon began, but once the popular spanish concept was discovered by the sort of opportunistic restauranteur who's constantly reliant on "the next big thing" rather than the next great chef, they beat the tapas drum until a perfectly harmless word became polarizing. Suddenly, restaurants serving small portions designed to share became more popular than the captain of the high school football team. But as the portions got smaller, the prices frequently remained relatively high and the convivial, communal heart of what tapas are really about got lost somewhere in the profit margins. The word still lingers in our vernacular, but after the reprisal of customers scorned with bills as long as your arm and unsatisfied appetites, waiters catching you use the term these days are frequently quick to correct you with whatever buzz word management has carefully coached them to use in it's place.