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ALO BAR YORKVILLE

No one has ever complained that Yorkville was overburdened with great dining options.

Toronto’s most exuberantly expensive neighbourhood is scheduled to welcome a newcomer that will almost certainly change that equation: 162 Cumberland St. is going to become Alo Bar Yorkville. Yes, that Alo—our 2017 and 2018 number 1 restaurant.

Their newest address is tucked away behind a courtyard off the main pedestrian trail. You may remember it as Brasserie Zola or most recently, Crème Brasserie. It also once did time as a raucous speakeasy. Now, instead, it is the third instalment of the burgeoning Alo brand, with strong echoes of the original Alo Bar.

“The concept has been led by the way the bar at Alo has developed,” explained Alo group’s operations manager, John Bunner, who tended that bar at its launch. “It’s a cocktail bar but it’s somewhat of a restaurant as well. We do a lot of wine and tons of food. Customers love the cocktails, and the raw fish dishes, and having a nice piece of meat after that, so….”

So that’s what you’ll get at Alo Bar Yorkville, too. But there will be plenty more besides. Of note, chef Patrick Kriss has installed a Josper oven, a Spanish-made combination oven and grill powered exclusively by charcoal.

Should you not have heard of them, be advised that Jospers are de rigueur at the best tapas bars, grill rooms and grill-friendly fine-dining establishments across Europe and Asia. They are expensive. And still sufficiently rare here that whichever restaurant installs one (the rooftop at Black+Blue in Vancouver, or The Exchange in Halifax) inevitably claims theirs to be the first and only one in the country. Never mind the precedent; what’s important is that no other prefabricated setup can be better deployed for grilling vegetable, fish or beef.

“We’ll probably do two steaks,” chef Kriss told us of his culinary plan. “We’ll have oysters. I want raw and cured dishes that come out as shared dishes, like tapas. We’ll have a toro dish, and a hamachi dish. A bunch of different things on the table that you can share if you want, or just have to yourself.”

Expect also some beautifully composed salads. And an array of those finer things to which Kriss is always loyal, regardless of geography: uni from Hokkaido, wagyu beef, Dover sole, Alaskan king crab. Expect, too, that other Alo hallmark: a waiting list for the 50 indoor seats—not to mention the 25 on the patio.

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