Late on a weeknight at Alobar, in Yorkville, the bar is still full, and in the surrounding lounge and dining room, the crowd is just beginning to thin. So the hustle in the partly open kitchen at the rear is visibly slowing, but plates are still crossing the pass at a good clip. At our table–number 24–we are segueing from a round of cocktails to wine and an array of small plates – East Coast oysters, a ceviche of sea bream with cilantro and cucumber, and salmon crudo with charred poblano.
“I never eat in my own restaurants,” says Patrick Kriss, chef-owner here, reaching for some crudo, checking on what he’s been missing. Downtown, he is chef and owner of Alo, a four-time #1 restaurant on the annual Canada’s 100 Best list. Then there’s Aloette and its burgeoning satellite takeout kitchens, the newly opened Alder, at the Ace Hotel, and plans for plenty more over the next year. We wonder how he keeps his team creative and on track.
“We keep busy. We’re always talking, always trying to improve. We discuss everything, and I work hard. If they don’t see me doing that, what’s the incentive?”
Across the table sits Jessica Rodrigues, marketing director at the Hazelton Hotel next door. Next to her, Orion Berge, the passionately involved restaurant and bar manager at Louix Louis at the St-Regis, and Jenny Shin, President and CEO of Milestone PR, which specializes in culinary. Unsurprisingly they all concur.
But if hard work is where it’s at, they all have time for much more. Travel is an agreed inspiration (New York, New Orleans, Milan, Tokyo and London pop up in the convo again and again). Great restaurants (from 20 Victoria here to Le Bernardin, Estela and Cosme, NYC, to Osteria Francescana, Milan) and bars of all types (“they have to scratch the right itch at the right moment,” Berge explains). We are onto music – there are Nas fans here – festivals and favourite spots for a nightcap when, looking around the room, it’s suddenly evident that it’s time for just that, elsewhere.
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