Tuesday, March 18, 2014

IMPASTO X CHEF NATE APPLEMAN



One of the most anticipated culinary events that took place in Montreal this February came not by way of the annual Highlights Festival as you might have expected, but rather courtesy of a private initiative on behalf of the crew at Impasto where chefs Michele Forgione and Stefano Faita hosted acclaimed chef Nate Appleman for two nights of clever cookery in Little Italy. Distinguished amongst his peers, chef Appleman's accolades include Food & Wine Magazine's "Best New Chefs" list, and the James Beard Foundation "Rising Star" award in 2009. Most recently, his celebrity status was sealed on the other side of the pass when he became a household name, competing on the Food Network's Chopped All Stars and The Next Iron Chef.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

BAR ISABEL


Following our whirlwind trip around Spain, we returned home with a reinvigorated outlook on food, on cooking, on eating and with a reinforced perception regarding the North American pollution of the term "tapas". When local restaurateurs manipulated and marginalized the meaning of tapas to little more than small plates of food they could swing a better profit margin on, they let the congeniality slip through their fingers. The reasonably priced cava and cold beers, immaculately canned seafood and swoon-worthy pork were all gone. What remained was the shell of an idea that was force-fed to the rank-and-file in portions barely large enough to share with the person next to you, let alone divide amongst a table. It was a mockery, a low-rent cover band, an impersonation of much more than a restaurant format, but a culture. It all made the register ring, but lacked heart.

Monday, February 17, 2014

BUCA



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

LE VIN PAPILLON


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

BEST OF 2013



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

CERVESERIA CATALANA


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

TICKETS



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?