Canoe started its 25th year with a design makeover: new fixtures and furnishings, softer lighting and, most important, a considerably improved kitchen. The best seats in the house here have always been window side, where from 54 floors up the TD Bank Tower, the views of the sprawling city and Lake Ontario beyond are hard to beat. But those who come here for the grandest possible culinary experience and take a seat at the chef ’s counter will notice that sightlines on the open kitchen are much improved. And it’s worth paying attention to what the chefs are up to. Chef de Cuisine Ron McKinlay, the latest in a long, distinguished line of Canoe CDCs, has grown in his role here these past few years, and now has his kitchen team exactly where he wants it. Read: highly disciplined and cooking with admirable finesse. The outlook remains, as always, on haute Canadiana, expressed by the best possible Canadian ingredients, sourced coast to coast. But many of the old mainstays—the fabulous seafood tower, for example—have refreshed flair in both substance and presentation. And more luxurious new dishes lean on old-school techniques that few restaurants can manage quite this capably. Like, for example, the pigeon pithivier, built with layers of pigeon dry-aged on the crown, foie gras and puff pastry, sauced with a beautifully judged reduction. Desserts are imaginative and just as polished. The wine list rewards bargain hunters and has plenty of big-name firepower. Sharp staff make sure the experience is memorable for all the right reasons.
Photos: CINDY LA