Finding a reason to spend the day in Bloor-Yorkville certainly isn’t difficult! With a long list of shops, cafe’s, fitness studios, and restaurants, it’s easy to get swept up living like a local. The celebrated culinary scene of Bloor-Yorkville recently solidified its best-in-the-city status with six neighborhood restaurants making their mark on the Toronto Life 100 Best Restaurants list! Find out what the Toronto Life editors had to say about these must-visit eateries.
The following excerpts are from the Toronto Life article and have been edited for length:
“The centrepiece of chef Rob Gentile’s downtown Italian triptych is his temple of seafood at the base of Yorkville’s Four Seasons. Four years in, it’s still one of the city’s most dependable splurges and a regular draw for suit-wearing power diners and celebrating couples.
Whole branzino is fleetingly presented to the table, then carved tableside; it returns as a twinkling translucent blanket of melt-away fish streaked with olive oil, lemon and prosecco, every bite an exceptional double-dose of richness and bracing salinity. Equally oceanic are fresh sea urchins the size of tennis balls; spread on toasted focaccia, each of their buttery, deep-orange tongues tastes like a dive into the North Atlantic.
Fresh pasta is always a Gentile hallmark, and few dishes better capture his kitchen’s strengths than a tangle of angel-hair and Nova Scotia lobster tossed in a seafood broth and thickened with nutty whey butter. One exception to the seafood bonanza: what might be the city’s priciest pizza, a $55 slab of lightly charred crust and funky taleggio, with black truffles scattered across its surface like confetti. Finished with streaks of egg yolk, it’s worth every dollar.”
53 Scollard St., 416-962-2822, buca.ca
“It’s tiny—just over two-dozen seats, cooks jostling in a pocket-sized kitchen—but it makes a big impression.
The wine list is a treat, featuring gorgeous old-world finds, and nothing currently falls over $160. Chef Jonathan Nicolaou’s menu, alert to the season and designed for easy pairings, is full of surprises, like a rockfish crudo enlivened by slippery cubes of cucumber-flavoured jelly and a hash of preserved green tomato, or the pleasing crunch of oven-crackled edges of rotolo—wheels of pasta stuffed with spinach and the freshest-imaginable ricotta.
It’s tempting to stuff yourself with Prairie Boy sourdough, smeared with full-fat, sea-salt-flecked butter, but save room for a pavlova of sugary peak-season Ontario strawberries, sour pops of red currants and a drift of chantilly cream. The close quarters means you’ll get to know your neighbours, who’ll want to know what’s in your glass and compare real estate horror stories. As the night falls and the stereo rises, it can feel like you’re at the best dinner party in Yorkville.”
1240 Bay St., 416-804-6066, @brothers_toronto
“In the last six years, Daniel Boulud’s restaurant at the Four Seasons has changed chefs and undergone a renovation—as well as a menu overhaul—and the place is better than ever. Cured meat, terrines and pâtés are a specialty here, and the formidable charcuterie board is a great way to start a meal; an imported rotisserie oven perfectly slow-roasts everything from whole chickens to pineapples. The standout dish is the quenelle de brochet, a Lyon-style dish of emulsified northern pike blended with eggs, cooked into a flawless omelette, and plated in a bowl of rich cognac-lobster sauce. Like Café Boulud itself, the dish is seamless.”
60 Yorkville Ave., 416-963-6000, cafeboulud.com/toronto
“Doug Penfold’s Yorkville bistro is accessed via an alley and is barely visible from the street: even an innocent lunch date acquires a whiff of discreet rendezvous. Penfold works at a couple of burners behind the bar, thriving under the constraints. He composes note-perfect pork liver mousse; chestnut soup fragrant with sorrel; a ballotine of chicken wrapped around roasted apples, with a jolt of herbaceousness from a watercress purée; and steaming side plates of celeriac and escarole gratin. For dessert: made-to-order apple tart with warm calvados sabayon slowly poured overtop.”
90 Yorkville Ave., 416-428-6641, chabrolrestaurant.com
“Given its prime Yorkville location, its celebrity chef affiliation and the air-kissing clientele that frequent Mark McEwan’s One Restaurant, you’d be forgiven for assuming the Hazelton Hotel spot was just another style-over-substance establishment built for the see-and-be-seen crowd. Decadent lobster tail bites swimming in vermouth butter share menu space with crispy Korean tacos sauced with gochujang. The veal parmesan, a breaded, bone-in veal chop perfectly pan-fried and crowned with bright San Marzano tomatoes and melted buffalo mozzarella, and the baked gnocchi in a rosé sauce with house-made bomba, both beautifully showcase McEwan’s flair for Italian classics.”
116 Yorkville Ave., 416-961-9600, one.mcewangroup.ca
“When it opened in late 2012 at Church and Dundas, Sabai Sabai was the experimental wing of Nuit and Jeff Regular’s empire, eschewing the dishes that caused year-round lineups at Regent Park’s Sukhothai for northern Thai and Laotian fare. However, by the time Sabai Sabai had moved to its current Yonge and Bloor digs, it fit more squarely into the Sukhothai mold—not that that’s a bad thing. The food is as flavour-packed and well-executed as ever: khao soi is creamy, the massaman curry is sweet, spicy and delicately inflected with tamarind, and the pad gra prao is rich and aromatic. Where Sabai Sabai both differentiates itself from its siblings and utterly excels, however, is with its grilled dishes: chicken satay skewers, marinated in turmeric and coconut milk, are cooked to perfection, while Laos-style pork belly sausage, infused with lemongrass and galangal, comes tender and juicy with a subtle charred flavour.”
81 Bloor St. E., 647-748-4225, sabaisabaito.ca
Read the full Toronto Life list here.
Main image c/o of ONE Restaurant/Hazleton Hotel.