Restaurant Review: Figures

We recently had the opportunity to check out Figures, a new and fun dining destination in Yorkville (at Avenue and Davenport).

From the second we walked into Figures, we were transported to another place, our childhood. Strips of vintage comic book strips coated the walls and comic book memorabilia was carefully displayed in the entrance. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that this was a comic book store. Soon after, we were escorted into the restaurant where one wall was playfully decorated using a comic book theme, a large picture of Barbie took over another wall and Pac-man characters were on the ceiling.

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Our experience then took off with the cocktails, first we enjoyed the Bramble Bee Cocktail with came which came with a carefully placed, smoking cinnamon stick, giving off the most beautiful and warm aroma. Then we enjoyed the Hunter Cocktail, which had hints of matcha, a cocktail addition that we had yet to see on a cocktail list in Toronto.

After our round of drinks, we tried some of the dishes. Recommended by our server, we shared a few items. We had the fairy-tale eggplant and the beet salad, fresh tastes that were the perfect way to begin the meal.

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Our next round of drinks delighted us; we chose the Rarely on Target cocktail that came with a stencil of the iconic Star Wars image, the Storm-Trooper on top and the Maleficent cocktail that arrived at our table with fire spewing out of a lime on top. What a treat.

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Next we tried the lobster and the salmon. The presentation took us by surprise, as each dish was perfectly and expertly composed. We particularly loved the crab salad that accompanied the salmon with a fried egg on top that we cracked onto the salad. It reminded us of a different take on beef tartar and we were excited to try something new.

To finish the meal, we succumbed to our sweet tooth and ordered the beignets, a row of three delicious and airy fritters. One filled with nutella, the next with blood orange and the last with cinnamon sugar. We were delighted by our options. We then were told to order to chocolate dome where you break the shell of the chocolate dome with a spoon and are shown a gold-flake dusted brownie and little robot shaped chocolates. These figures tied in with the theme of the restaurant and were absolutely delicious, to say the least. We didn’t leave a single crumb.

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As we were wrapping up, we noticed that a DJ came in and started spinning. The nightlife of this restaurant was clearly beginning and this was a Tuesday. This dinner space was entertaining, trendy and different than anywhere else that exists in Toronto and it is safe to say that we will be returning soon.

TorEats rates Figures:

Food: 8/10

Service: 10/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Price: $$$$

Restaurant Review: Salt & Tobacco

Nestled in the heart of Cabbagetown lies Salt & Tobacco, a quaint pizza joint run by husband and wife team Gavin and Michelle. Open 7 days a week, Salt & Tobacco is offering fresh za’s whenever the craving hits, whether it be for dining in on a Saturday night or take out for the family on a Wednesday.

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Although items such as kale and arugula salads and olives and spicy pepper side plates are available, their immense pizza menu consisting of 11 different pies is definitely the main incentive to hit it up. The funghi pizza, a white pizza with mushrooms, mozzarella and shaved parmesan was perfectly simplistic. Truffle essences were certainly not missed here because the quality of ingredients was so high; it required nothing fancy to make up for flavour.

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We were strongly advised to use Salt & Tobacco’s house made hot honey and with the first drop, we were hooked. With a sweet base and a good kick at the end, this sticky topping is what made this pizza stand up against all others. The prosciutto pizza topped with mozzarella, thinly shaved prosciutto, generously scattered parmesan shavings and fresh arugula was another winner. The salty prosciutto paired with the peppery bites of fresh arugula was perfectly complimentary to one another and was of course, drizzled liberally with hot honey giving it a sweet and spicy finish.

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Beer, wine and various pops are offered for drink pairings and if you know to ask, house-made bitters may be added to your sparkling water for a crafted fizzy treat that goes perfectly with the meal. With fun and caring staff, amazing tunes playing throughout it’s beautiful interior, and of course, delicious food, TorEats would definitely recommend giving the Cabbagetown pizzeria a visit.

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TorEats rates Salt & Tobacco:

Food: 8/10

Service: 10/10 (take-out counter)

Atmosphere: 9/10

Price: $

Restaurant Review: Canis

West Queen West welcomes Canis, a restaurant with a brand new take on Canadian cuisine. With a cozy venue that offers unique and complex dishes that emphasize local Canadian ingredients, Canis manages to make upscale cuisine approachable and welcoming to all. Offering 100% organic wines, vegetarian, pescetarian and carnivorous dishes, the menu is tremendously attractive to all restaurant-goers.

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The Fresh Goat Cheese Beet Almond ($15.00) is not only an edible work of art that demonstrates more complexity than the name provides, but also takes texture profiling to a whole new level. The dish is composed of beet ribbons, which delivers a familiar earthy flavour. This dish takes it further with semi-dried beets that emphasize the sweetness of the root vegetable while also offering a contrasting gummy texture that pairs perfectly with the crunchy almonds that are scattered throughout. House made goats milk ricotta is dispersed among the plate and provides a nice saltiness and a luscious creamy mouth feel. Fennel seed, mint and cold pressed canola oil brings everything together and provides a crisp, fresh finish with every bite.

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The Lamb Shoulder ($29.00), which is braised for 12 hours and paired with a charred gem lettuce, which is topped with yogurt and lamb jus, was another winning item on this menu. The presentation was almost too beautiful to disrupt, but with just the touch of a fork, the meat began to fall apart and become one with the broccoli puree and baby carrot that was placed on top. With such tender meat and perfectly paired accompaniments, each bite takes your palate on a warm fall adventure that keeps you wanting more. Even the charred gem lettuce on the side hosted a smoky essence that brings to mind cooking by a Canadian fire on a brisk fall eve.

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Each dish was artfully presented and had ingredients that were strategically plated to emphasize the contrasting textures and flavour profiles of each dish, but nothing was quite as exquisite as the dessert. We were lucky enough to try the grape and chocolate offerings. Our taste buds were tickled by the texture of the fermented grape granata with its contrast to the fresh grapes and buttermilk ice cream beneath. The chocolate mousse with buckwheat ice cream holds a familiar chocolate taste with nutty notes from the buckwheat meringue, which was artfully placed atop a delicate scoop of buckwheat ice cream and finished with organic honey and candied buckwheat.

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Although every dish at Canis is (almost) too beautiful to eat, flavour is far from compromised. TorEats highly recommends a visit to this new establishment located at 746 Queen St W. for a truly unique take on Canadian flavours.

TorEats rates Canis:

Food: 10/10

Service: 10/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Price: $$

 

Wake & Bake

Sophisticated yet sinfully decadent. None other than Simmy Jassal, the talent behind Wake & Bake pastries, perfects individually packaged varieties of velvety dessert mousse. Simmy has had immaculate training in French baking in none other than France itself and has perfected the art of making mousse. With an Indian background, she managed to maintain the traditions of French technique while incorporating aspects of Indian flavour.

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We were fortunate enough to try the delicate white chocolate and mango mousse but nothing quite beat the luscious chocolate. This delectable 52% dark chocolate mousse was coated with glistening ganache and sat atop a moist chocolate sponge that perfectly complemented the richness of the mousse. This almost (but not quite) sinful chocolate treat provides a silky mouth feel that perfectly coats every inch of your mouth with rich, chocolaty goodness.

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The mango mousse hinted at Simmy Jassal’s Indian background with minimal tartness and robust flavour. The fusion of a traditional French pastry with the bold colours and flavours of India was unique and captivating to the pallet. Perfect for almost any occasion, the packaging allows for the ideal party favour or addition to any dessert table at events ranging from intimate dinners to grand celebrations for the idyllic sweet treat in the perfect portion. Whether it’s these adorable mousse cups or immaculately detailed custom cakes and pastries that are offered as well, Wake & Bake is definitely a TorEats go-to for any occasion.

Hospitality Unleashed: Restaurants Canada Show

We had the best time at the Hospitality Unleashed: Restaurants Canada Show. We were given the opportunity to explore the pulses for the year, to try delicious food and to meet some top chefs of Toronto!

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This Chocolate Molten Lava Cake was absolutely irresistible!

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We were completely starstruck with Jonny O’Callaghan. He is the talented chef of Maple Leaf Tavern. His creations are both stunning in presentation and delicious. Check out his Instagram account: @jonathandouglasoc

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The pecan bites from Circles & Squares Bakery were so good, we came back for more!

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This beauty was made by JL International.

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Nutella made an appearance and handed out samplings of their Nutella crepes.

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We are so excited to come back next year! Nicely done Restaurants Canada #restoshow16

Short & Sweet Cupcakes is Delightful

Situated just north of Lawrence on Avenue Road, Short & Sweet Cupcakes is an inviting dessert shop that offers a variety of sweet treats. These range from cupcakes of varying flavours to crispy rice treats that provide a satisfying crunch with gooey marshmallow fluff nestled throughout.

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Surrounded by family restaurants and residential streets, Short & Sweet is the ideal spot for either special occasion desserts or to simply satisfy a sweet craving. The biggest challenge is choosing which dessert to purchase given the beautifully overwhelming display of freshly baked, unique varieties. The classic vanilla and chocolate cupcakes are ever so tempting but can be second guessed by the array of other unique creations. These include Dulce de Leche (a vanilla cupcake injected with Dulce de Leche and topped with a rich buttercream frosting) and the One Hundred and One cupcake (an Oreo cupcake topped with Oreo buttercream garnished with a mini Oreo cookie).

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Cupcakes are not the only treat this sweet shop has to offer. Sandwich cookies and personal cake jars are also some of Short & Sweet’s specialties. The red velvet “sammie” consists of rich cream cheese frosting sandwiched in between two white-chocolate chunk red velvet cookies. Each bite resembled only what I could imagine heaven to taste like. They had such incredible textures that perfectly contrasted one another.

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By offering the promise of 100% nut-free products, Short & Sweet makes for the perfect go-to shop. Whether you are searching for school birthday parties or office events, Short & Sweet guarantees that everyone is able to enjoy these delectable treats.

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Short & Sweet welcomes personalized requests. Cupcakes can be ordered singly, by half dozen or full dozen and can be made “jumbo” sized or “mini” to your liking. Cake customization is also on the menu and can be made to suit any occasion, formal or casual.

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TorEats rates Short & Sweet:

Food: 9/10

Service: 10/10

Atmosphere: 10/10

Price: $$

Restaurant Review: Sotto Sotto

I visited Sotto Sotto for the first time this week and I must say, I was impressed. Oddly enough, I walk on Avenue Road just about every day and have never noticed this restaurant. The discrete setting and dim lighting is probably why it is a favourite of many celebrities.

We were greeted and escorted into the downstairs dining room of the restaurant. It was a quiet night therefore I believe that our waiter gave us extra attention. He recommended some dishes and offered to customize any dish to our liking (a very nice touch). We ordered spaghetti, a whole Orata fish and a veal dish. Everything was perfect and delicious.

Overall, I have no complaints about Sotto Sotto and I would definitely recommend it.

TorEats rates Sotto Sotto:

Food: 10/10

Service: 10/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Price: $$$$

Restaurant Review: Portland Variety

Portland Variety is a gem on the corner of Portland and King. The dim lighting, white tiled walls and decorative plates contribute to an incredibly warm atmosphere. The servers are friendly, happy and attentive. They will gladly offer their recommendations on the menu items.

Portland Variety is great for brunch, lunch and dinner. My favourite items are the house made ricotta, the eggplant byaldi and the hippie salad (if we’re talking a light meal). Everything is flavourful and the portions are large enough to share.

In the warmer months, it is nice to sit outside on the patio with a caesar (or two).

TorEats rates Portland Variety:

Food: 8/10

Service: 9/10

Atmosphere: 8/10

Price: $$

Restaurant Review: HIRO Sushi

I went to HIRO on a cold and rainy Tuesday night. Originally, we were the only ones there aside from the sushi chef and owner, Hiro and the waitress. We took off our shoes and sat comfortably at the chef’s table.

We decided to go for the “omakase experience” which is basically the chef’s selection of only the finest and best dishes. I have to say, it is definitely the most authentic sushi that one can find in Toronto.

My favourite pieces were the tempura fig, chopped uni, toro hand roll and octopus sashimi. Although, I could probably go on forever.

The newly renovated space is beautiful and cozy, and Hiro himself is kind and full of knowledge.

TorEats rates HIRO Sushi:

Food: 10/10

Service: 9/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Price: $$$

Restaurant Review: Yasu

Yasu is a hidden gem in Toronto. This reservation only, 12 person sushi bar is one of its kind.

The menu is very simple. You get 18 pieces of sushi plus dessert, no ordering required. Each piece is exquisite and rests on top of warm, perfectly formed rice, brushed with the chef’s special sauce (customized for each piece). I believe that every bite is a little taste of perfection.

The chefs prepare the sushi right in front of you and are masters of the craft. Their sake offerings are fantastic and they offer rare, hard to find choices.

The waiters walk around with iPad’s to display pictures of what the sushi looks like in its natural form (as a full, living, breathing fish).

The restaurant is located in a house on Harbord street and is very typical of the sushi restaurants that you may find in Tokyo.

TorEats rates Yasu:

Food: 10/10

Service: 9/10

Atmosphere: 9/10

Price: $$$