First Look: Parcae brings Quebecois cooking to Toronto’s Templar Hotel


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Templar Hotel launches Parcae, a Quebecois themed restaurant with two ex-Montreal chefs.

Image: Suresh Doss

The Templar Hotel on Adelaide Street has recently undergone some changes with its on-site food programming. The Monk Kitchen and Lounge is no longer, and a new nose-to-tail restaurant named Parcae is about to open.

 
Parcae's Executive Chef Danny Hassell (left) and Sous Chef Joseph Awad (right)
 

 

Previously at One (cook) and Bar Buca (chef de cuisine) Danny Hassell has teamed up with his long-time Montreal colleague and chef Joseph Awad (Au Pied de Cochon) to launch Parcae at the five-year-old hotel. They’re joined by owners Michael Motamedi (Masterchef Canada), Reza Abedi (Wildflower Toronto), Dan Gunam (Via Vai), and General Manager Adam Cacciatore.


Ontario Horse carpaccio ($18) with duck yolk, pickled chanterelle mushrooms, and pumpkin seeds.

 

When visiting with Hassell and Awad last week, finishing touches were being put on the dining room and lounges ahead of the planned opening on Nov. 11. The main dining room is located in the basement of the hotel and seats 50. There’s a cocktail lounge upstairs where Hassell and Awad will feature a rotating snack menu.


Brussels sprouts ($12) served with guanciale and "mom's sauce". 

 

Also, a private chef’s table sits at the back of the restaurant in the kitchen with room for two lucky guests. It’s not officially open for reservation just yet but Hassell did say that if anyone requests to sit there he would accommodate. I suggest you do. If you prefer front-of-the-line access to chefs and a quieter dining environment without the soundtrack, this is where you should eat when you visit Parcae.

“It’s like you’re driving in someone’s home kitchen in here,” said Hassell, as he vigorously shakes a cream whipper. He’s making an espuma (foam) from his mom’s sauce that is made from sugar, eggs, vinegar, and mustard powder. “I’m very happy with this. It’s something I’ve had since I was a kid. I’m very proud of it. My mom’s version isn’t espuma, so I did my take on it.”

The espuma makes an appearance a few times throughout the menu, adding vibrancy and acidity to dishes such as the Brussels sprouts, roasted until the leaves are crisp and light, and served on the stem on a bed of mom’s sauce with some guanciale.

Hassell first met Toronto chef Rob Gentile in the kitchen at McEwan’s One Restaurant many years ago. When Gentile moved to open Buca in 2009, Hassell followed and assumed the sous chef role, eventually moving to Bar Buca to become chef de cuisine. Hassell left Bar Buca last winter to go and work at Au Pied de Cochon's Cabane a Sucre. There he met Joseph Awad who had previously staged for Massimo Bottura at Osteria Francescana. The two got to talking, and Joseph agreed to join Hassell to launch the Parcae project.

 
Clams served in a tomato sauce with guanciale

 

The cooking at the new restaurant is part Quebecois with a nod to Hassell’s Italian background. Everything is heavily weighted in the nose-to-tail philosophy. “I love the flavours of Quebec, maple syrup, meats, nose-to-tail cooking, so the food here is very nostalgic for me. Also I love channeling my mom’s cooking from Puglia in south Italy,” he said.

 
Risotto with sturgeon bone marrow ($24)

 

The nose-to-tail method is evident in nearly every dish from sturgeon marrow to chicken feet, horse carpaccio, and lamb brains. Even pig face bacon (guanciale) is a fairly new thing in Toronto. Hassell and Awad wanted to Parcae to reflect their unbridled passion for guts and odd bits and ends. 

 
Radish Salad ($8) with fennel, orange. 

 

The menu is heavily focused on meat with a few exceptions. The lightest dish on the menu is also the palate cleanser — a plating of heirloom radishes, sliced very thin and served with orange segments, fennel pollen and Italian chilis. The plate was dressed very lightly with olive oil, red wine vinegar and basil. 

 
H.K. Chicken Leg ($14) with falls sausage and butternut squash

 

Hassell and Awad will kick off their launch menu next week, appetizers will be priced between $10 and $18 and mains will range from $18 to $40 (for larger cuts of meat). The Hong Kong chicken was a highlight, stuffed raw with ground heritage pork and then cooked sous vide. Chicken skin was crisped up for added texture on the plate, creamed by a butternut squash puree. It may be an ambitious plate for Toronto diners. Awad and Hassell are confident in evolving palates, “The kitchen is always evolving. People are always trying to do different things in the kitchen as much as diners are willing to try new things. We want to push that envelope. Toronto diners are ready for it,” said Awad. 

 
Whole European Seabass ($35)

 

On the opposite end, a plate of grilled Branzino received a light touch, grilled perfectly and seasoned lightly.

 
Two of Parcae's dessert offerings. Bread Pudding (Left) and stuffed raspberry doughnuts (Right)

 

Awad is responsible for the pastry and dessert menu, and currently he is featuring two desserts. A classic Quebecois bread pudding topped with ice cream, and doughnuts stuffed with seasonal fruit filling. 

PARCAE at Templar Hotel, 348 Adelaide St. W., 416-479-0847

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Suresh Doss is resident food and drink writer and associate web editor at Post City Magazines. In addition to covering the culinary scene, Suresh regularly hosts food events across the GTHA. You can follow him on Twitter (@spotlightcity) or Instagram (@suresh) or email him at sureshdoss@postcity.com.

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