The Alo experience begins with a discreet doorway on a gritty stretch of downtown Toronto.
Then, a slow and suspenseful elevator ride. The doors then open on the upper-floor oasis of a chic bar and lounge—home to a commendable selection of tiptop, cutting edge cocktails. After that, make your way over to the small adjoining dining room, a setup that communicates exclusivity of the best possible sort.
There, settle in for a five-course menu dégustation. And with your first course—maybe an amuse bouche of tiny, perfect pommes soufflées—comes a warm, deeply nostalgic pang. And the realisation that amidst that talk about how fine dining was dead, gone and irrelevant, you were really missing it badly, and waiting for someone to come along and do it right. Like intense young chef Patrick Kriss, who is on his game here, big time. As in sea bream sashimi decorated with sea asparagus, kombu, and a dab of yuzukoshō (chilli-spiked yuzu purée). If his exquisitely rich (and artfully plated) ragout of veal trotter, oyster mushroom and cockscomb blanketed in shavings of cured foie gras is on the menu do not hesitate—pounce. With well balanced sauces, foams of this, shards of that—Alo looks back, and forward. It is overdue, and all the more appreciated for it.
Do the right thing by the five course tasting menu and let the sommelier match wine to course. Fine—and modestly priced—small plates are also available at the bar.
Alo is perfect. – ADRIAN MYERS
Sophisticated, well composed, very clean flavours. – JOSH JOSEPHSON
RESTAURANT PHOTOS: MAT FABIJANIC