Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Yorkville Eats

Yorkville has a lot of great restaurants, and heading to the Heliconian Literary Lecture series this past season put me in the neighbourhood at least once a month.  Usually I don’t go out to fine restaurants, preferring gatherings with fellow foodies at home. Extravagant meals, cocktails, and fine wines are more affordable when you prepare them yourself. But a  rave review about a tiny Yorkville bistro with big flavours and a huge heart really enticed me.

I made reservations at Chabrol for Kaarina and I before the next Heliconian lecture, and ordered the lentils alongside artisanal cheeses. Since we didn’t finish with enough time to savour dessert, we made reservations to return just a few hours later to try the tarte aux pommes, made to order with Calvados sabayon, with ultralight layers of pastry that “turn glossy and buttery-golden and the apple slices darken to tart, caramel bliss.” It lived up to its reputation!

... best seats in the house at Buca
I also wanted to try Buca, which had long been on my list, and we visited the next time we were in the neighbourhood. When the maître d’ greeted us I explained we were only there for cocktails and small plates, and he seated us with the best view in the house – perched on stools peering over a marble counter and into the working kitchen. Lots of staff dressed in gleaming white, glinting stainless surfaces, and exotic ingredients being prepped and plated. What a mouth-watering experience!  I also sampled cured fish and gnocco fritto, which I’d never tasted before. The cured fish was a trio of colours, textures and tastes to be enjoyed mindfully. The gnocco fritto is Italian street food, tasty buns coloured with squid ink that turned our smiles black.
Gnocco Fritto

Next time it  was Mark McKewan’s ONE Restaurant in Hazelton Hotel. Fantastic ambience and great service. After that, the patio at the yoo-who café Sassafraz to people-watch with Kaarina and Shelley while we shared grilled cheese and charcuterie. 

By ordering appetizers and small plates, we were able to experience some great restaurants without breaking the bank. Scheduling the visits before the lectures was also good, because we had to head out at a certain time so couldn’t linger in the restaurants. Although I admit, I did top up the meals with Heliconian cheese and crackers.

I might not attempt making calvados sabayon or gnocco fritto at home, but I did leave with some take-aways:
  • I don't need to wait for company to plate 3 or 4 small 1 oz. portions of artisanal cheeses for an evening treat (Chabrol)
  • Pizza Burrata: thinly rolled pizza dough, preserved tomato, burrata cheese, basil, and fine olive oil (Buca)
  • Grill mushrooms by getting cast iron as hot as possible, then finish with either balsamic or good quality olive oil (ONE)
  • Gin cocktail with rhubarb club (Sassafras)

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