2016 Toronto Life Best New Restaurants

Sunday, September 18, 2016

On Thursday April 7, 2016, Toronto Life brought the pages of the annual Where to Eat Now issue to life at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. Twenty of the best new restaurant chosen by Toronto Life critic Mark Pupo were serving up their signature dishes and local vintners and brewers served wine and craft beer. Was it worth the $100 ticket price? Hell yes.

TLBestNewRestaurants took over both the main and second floor, I also thought it was pretty cool that A3 Napoli took over outside. At first I thought it was because they got ripped off on the location, but it turned out to be on purpose. Inside, the lighting was dim, great for the atmosphere, but difficult for taking photos. By the time I got in, lines started to form but I managed to try everyone at least once throughout the night.


Like I had mentioned, I thought A3 Napoli got screwed over with their location, but there was actually a purpose. They served up a mean Frittatina which was essentially deep fried mac and cheese. As I was told, this was the kind of food you would eat on the go, and on the streets in Italy, and that's why they were outside. Eating this was like... mac and cheese on crack, I wish I went for seconds but I didn't want to fill up before the show even started. 


The Commodore chef preparing their signature dish, Cape Breton Shrimp on Toast. It was hard to hold with such a narrow piece of bread, but the shrimp was perfectly cooked. 


The Antler Kitchen & Bar served up Waterfowl and Foie Gras Terrine. This was actually my first time trying Foie Gras and before this, I never thought I'd get the opportunity to have it as it's mainly found in more higher end restaurants, but here I am.. and here I realized that it's amazing but its' also Pate which being Vietnamese, I grew up on this! Regardless of my non-discovery, the mix between sweet and savoy on the crostini was awesome.


My god, this was amazing too, I love Smoked Salmon and I loved the way Branca served theres. The Al Asador Cold-Smoked Salmon was served with creme fraiche and dill on a piece of fried bread. 


Left to right: Spanish tapas served by Longo's, another appetizer from The Commodore and a hummus extravaganza by Fat Pasha


Bacon? You love it, and you know it, but my god I never thought I'd eat a pig's heart and enjoy it. Loka served their dish "Pig Heart 'Nduja" in a bowl, and the assembling of the dish was so pretty. I might have to eat more hearts because this dish won me over. I absolutly loved the bits of charred sweetness, the delicateness of the fried pig's skin, and the burnt honey creme was perfect, just perfect. 


Left to right: Heart 'Nduja by Koka, Big eye Tuna Tartare by Cafe Bouloud and Waygu Beef Inari by Kasa Moto


Left to right: Tostada De Pulpo by Los Colibris, Malai Chicken Tikka by Tich and Lamb Brains by Parcae


Oh Parcae, well... you won this time. You managed to get me to eat Lambs Brain... Yes, I can hear you all gagging but I hate to say it.. it was pretty good. At first, I thought it was a cream-cheese tofu, it cut really easy with a plastic fork, and there was no smell that made me think otherwise. I didn't know it was lamb, until the chef told me. The texture was different but nothing really bothered me until I actually found out what it was. You can never go wrong with fried food, even fried brain... but sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Left to right: Insalata Di Carciofi by Buca, Handmade Butternut Squash Ravioli by Cactus Club, and Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi and Albacore Tuna Tartare by Miku


I was pretty sad to see only one option for dessert, especially cannoli - my least favorite of all desserts ... says the girl who had 3 that night. I must have had really bad cannoli all of my life because this was amazing. The pastry was crispy, and the hand piped pistachio filling was like heaven. I honestly don't know how else to describe it, it was just the best cannoli in my life and I think the fact that the shell wasn't soggy, and that the filling was rich and cold, won me over. 

Left to right: Sapsucker'sMaple Water sign (product review coming soon), Chef preparing Aburi Salmon Oshi Sushi and House Ricotta by Figo. As I was writing this post, I was also checking everyone off from the program and I realized that I missed Chabrol's Pork Liver Mouse with Pickled Turnip... which sounds delicious and I'm sorry I missed it. It was honestly a great night, I really wished I took the time to digest and go back for seconds, but by the time I finished my first round, the lines got really long and it became too crowded to even bother pushing through. For $100, I had a great night, I got to try so many new foods and restaurants and so the experience itself was well worth the cost, and this is coming from someone who didn't take advantage of the open bar. Well parties over, you don't have to leave but you can't stay here. Come back soon for a review on Sapsucker, it was so good that it deserved it's own post.

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