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7 Innovative Restaurants Around Toronto

By Suresh Doss
January 7, 2014

Toronto's dining scene has grown by leaps and bounds recently - not only is the quality of meals better, but chefs are pushing the envelope creatively. Here, we look at some of the most innovative restaurants in the city, serving everything from torched sushi to whole beast feasts.

  • Nose-to-Tail Feast at Beast

    Scott Vivian's restaurant in the King West district has celebrated all things farm-to-table since opening in 2010. Vivian loves to showcase unusual ingredients, from snails to pork hocks. His latest project is the "Whole Beast Dinner." Here's how it works; you pick an animal (one per table) and Vivian and his team will create a 6 course tasting menu using a different part of the animal for each course. The list of animals on offer is remarkable so you may want to book multiple visits; the costs is $80 per person for lamb, goat, duck, rabbit, pig, wild boar, chicken or squab; and $100 per person for cow, venison, elk, bison and water buffalo.

    96 Tecumseth St, 647-352-6000

  • State-of-the-Art Wine Dinners at Barberian's Steak House

    Toronto's quintessential classic steak house, Arron Barberian's cavernous, multi-level ode to surf n' turf is easily one of the city's culinary landmarks. The menu hasn't changed much over the years, but down on the lower mezzanine, Barberian installed a $2 million private wine cellar that is state-of-the-art. It's home to some of the city's most exclusive wine dinners. 

    7 Elm St, 416-597-0335

  • Ultra-Creative Sushi at Ja Bistro

    You won't find any California rolls at chef Koji Tashiro's restaurant in the Entertainment District. Instead what's on offer is a modern and exciting take on sushi and Japanese cuisine. An instant hit since it opened in 2012, the menu is divided into two sections. The sushi and sashimi selection rotates daily with the highlights being his lightly smoked aburi (torched) selection. The bistro menu is Tashiro's sandbox, where he experiments with classic dishes adding a twist (or three) here and there. From hearty lobster miso soup to beef tartare served with gochujang and nori seaweed.

    222 Richmond St W, 647-748-0222

    (Photo by Stella Yu)

  • Hyper-Local Tasting Menus at Glas Wine Bar

    Amidst the slew of restaurants that have opened in Leslieville in the last year, Danny Pantano's ode to seasonal ingredients has offered something unique since opening its doors. The quiet bistro features Pantano's take on seasonal cooking, religiously supporting Ontario farmers and producers with a thoughtfully curated wine list. But the real treat here is the weekly tasting menu, the 'Green Glas Affair'. The tasting sells out quickly and takes place every Tuesday, for $35 offers a front row seat to some of the most exciting cuisine the neighborhood has seen. A vegetarian menu is also available, Pantano's most recent featured all Ontario winter vegetables to much applause. 

    1118 Queen St E, 647-351-4527
    (Photo by Glas Wine Bar)

  • Pig-Out Parties at County General

    After swooning diners with its fried chicken dinners, Americana bar snacks and growing bourbon offerings, owner Carlo Catallo recently announced that his snack bar will be opening two more locations across the city. One can hope that when Catallo opens the new shops, he'll also feature one of the best dining options of County General Queen West; the whole suckling pig dinner. The large-format dish features Ontario suckling pig from Cumbrae farms which is brined for four days and then hot smoked for four hours. The pig is carved and served family-style for 10 guests, with a variety of side snacks and house-made hot sauces. Lastly, a bottle of bourbon is thrown into the mix. Proceed with caution. 

    Since the county only serves one whole animal per night, reservations must be made four days in advance.

    936 Queen St W, 416-531-4447

  • Beer Heaven at WVRST

    When WVRST first opened nearly three years ago, the craft beer scene wasn't exactly mainstream. Craft brew was mostly enjoyed by beer geeks and those geeks were starting to congregate at this beer hall to enjoy plate after plate of rabbit sausage and duck fat fries, washing it down with whatever the rotating cask was on offer. Since then, WVRST has established itself as one of the go-to destinations for comfort food and Ontario beer. The drink list will make you wish you could trade your heart in for another liver, and the food menu (over 20 types of sausage) can be dizzying. Look online for WVRST's Beer 101 classes which regularly features Ontario beer houses and a menu suited for what you'll be drinking. It's religiously attended by local beer lovers. 

    609 King St W, 416-703-7775

  • Large Format Dining at Momofuku Daisho

    Momofuku's multiplex dining empire in the Financial District has raised the bar for large format dining in this city. No other establishment offers the variety and a fuller dining experience for small to large groups. Large format offerings include Bo ssäm (10 people), salt and pepper lobster (6 people), beef short rib (6 people), beef ribeye (8 people), and beef brisket (10 people). All dinners come with an onslaught of accoutrements for the table to roll up their sleeves and mix and match ingredients. Bonus; Daisho features a large selection of Canadian whisky, so if you see the whisky cart rolling by, wave it down for a tasting.

    190 university, 647-253-8000

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