180 QUEEN STREET WEST, TORONTO, ONTARIO
THIS RESTAURANT MARKED ITS EIGHTH YEAR (2016) UNDER A NEW REGIME OF ONE: CHEF DAVID LEE, WHO BOUGHT OUT HIS PARTNERS AND GAVE THE PLACE A RETHINK.
First, there was a major redesign by John Tong’s +tongtong design agency, which shed half the old long bar in favour of a roomier lounge and a tree sculpture, added colour, and installed dangling light fixtures that look like tumbleweed and cast elaborate shadows on the white walls of the dining room. The short prix-fixe menus that make the place a go-to for the pre-show crowd headed for the Four Seasons Centre persist. But the bar now has its own elaborate snack menu.
And while many classic dishes remain—like duck confit and papaya salad, cavatelli pugliese (with mushroom and truffle Bolognese), and crisp-skinned sea bass with beurre noisette—many new offerings highlight chef Lee’s insatiable and evolving curiosity for other cuisines. The menu spans tom yum soup to sashimi and Tuscan rabbit ragù. His richly textured foray into vegan cooking (available at Planta, uptown) is occasionally showcased here, as with a recent dish of zucchini and chickpea galette, with hearts of palm and red curry sauce. This is a big restaurant, designed for appetites of all kinds, so you will also find the finest dry-aged local beef, as well as Wagyu imported from Japan. When available, the roast St. Canut suckling pig with a sauce of liquid boudin noir is not to be missed. A solid wine list, highly professional service and an easy, casual but sophisticated atmosphere make it a downtown favourite with broad appeal.
Monday to Friday
11:30 AM until 2:30 PM
Monday to Wednesday
5:00 PM until 10:00 PM
Thursday to Saturday
5:00 PM until 11:00 PM
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID LEE