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First Look

First Look: Grasshopper, a new meat-free restaurant near Kensington Market

Roy Qian is 23 years old, and he’s fresh out of college. He has never owned a business before, and he has never been a chef. But he’s not letting his lack of experience stop him from becoming a restaurateur.
March 06, 2014

First Look: La Croisée, a new bistro that’s bringing a taste of Burgundy to Bayview

For years, chef Adrien Bailleux and his partner, Andy Yang, knew that they wanted to open a restaurant together. They found a restaurant space in Leaside, where barbecue mecca Highway 61 once stood. After giving the place a complete makeover, they opened their new 24-seat spot, La Croisée, near the end of 2013.
February 27, 2014

First Look: Burger Bass, a new hamburger shop on Queen West

When Zeinab Omar was faced with the prospect of putting her four children through university, she did what any loving mother would do: she opened up a burger joint.
February 20, 2014

First Look: John & Sons Fish and Chip Shop, a new side-restaurant for a popular midtown oyster house

John Belknap has wanted to make better use of a storage room at his midtown oyster house, John & Sons, for a long time now. But what would best suit the neighbourhood?
February 14, 2014

First Look: 420 Smokehouse, a new destination for barbecue in Cabbagetown

When Virginia Ray decided to open up her own restaurant, she knew for certain that she wanted a smoked meat sandwich to anchor the menu. Toronto, she felt, was lacking in the smoked meat department. So, she found a chef, hooked him up with the best smoker she could find (a custom-built Southern Pride from Tennessee) and let him do his thing.
February 05, 2014

First Look: Ramen Isshin, a College Street noodle house from the Kingyo team

Koji Zenimaru may be a relative latecomer to Toronto’s ramen scene, but what he lacks in timeliness he makes up for in dedication. In researching noodles for Ramen Isshin, his new restaurant on College Street, Zenimaru spent six months tasting different varieties — around 900, in total — before finally settling on two. That’s right, 900 types of noodles.
January 30, 2014

First Look: Sip Wine Bar, a Neapolitan pizzeria at Yonge and Eg

Carmine Costantino has been in the service industry for years. He founded Zaza Espresso Bar in Yorkville, and he’s owned a slew of restaurants across the city. So when he decided to open his own Neapolitan pizzeria, he got serious. He placed a job ad in a Naples newspaper and landed three chefs from the motherland, including pizza maestro Pasquale Ponticiello.
January 22, 2014

First Look: Harvest Kitchen, the latest addition to Harbord Street’s thriving restaurant scene

Harbord Street continues to be a top-notch culinary destination in Toronto. It’s home to the legendary Splendido, and also to The Harbord Room and its sister restaurant, THR & Co. The Food Dudes chose the neighbourhood for their upcoming venture, Tabula Rasa, and about a month ago Harvest Kitchen opened up in the space previously occupied by Tati Bistro.
January 15, 2014

First Look: Agave y Aguacate, the highly anticipated restaurant from chef Francisco Alejandri

The strangest thing about Kensington Market’s now-defunct Agave y Aguacate may have been the owner and operator himself, Francisco Alejandri. The classically trained chef has worked at high-end restaurants such as Scaramouche and Chiado, so he seemed a tad out of place cooking at a schleppy food court. Well, that’s no longer the case, because he finally has a full-fledged restaurant of his own.
January 10, 2014

First Look: Roast, a full-service butcher shop on St. Clair West

Build a streetcar right-of-way, and the condos will quickly follow. From there it's just a short jump to excellent restaurants and full-service butcher shops. Such is the course of events that helped bring Ben Latchford's Roast Fine Foods to Hillcrest Village.
January 07, 2014

First Look: Kinton Ramen 2, a new location for a popular noodle house

Fans of Baldwin Village’s Kinton Ramen know that it’s a pork lover’s spot. There, thick pork bone broth comes with heaps of pork belly or pork shoulder, and customers can request how much pork fat they want added to their soup (“rich” means a lot, “light” means less).
January 03, 2014

First Look: Duke’s Refresher, a new watering hole at Yonge and Gerrard’s Aura tower

By next year, close to 2,000 people will be living inside Yonge and Gerrard’s Aura, Canada’s tallest residential tower. And they’ll have no shortage of places to eat nearby thanks to SIR Corp, which is responsible for several new restaurants on the ground floor: Reds Midtown Tavern, the soon-to-open Scaddabush and, opened earlier this month, Duke’s Refresher + Bar.
December 19, 2013

First Look: Windup Bird, a new café, restaurant and event space on College Street

It’s only been about a year since veteran restaurateur Sang Kim opened Yakitori Bar and Seoul Food on Baldwin Street, but he’s already taken on a new project. Last week he and his team launched Windup Bird Cafe in the site formerly occupied by Q Space at College and Borden.
December 12, 2013

First Look: Rock ‘n’ Horse, a new cowboy bar in the Entertainment District

What would happen if two cowboy-themed bars opened up simultaneously in Toronto? Would the space-time continuum implode? We’ll soon find out, because two new saloons — Boots & Bourbon and Rock ‘n’ Horse — hosted their grand opening parties on Wednesday.
December 05, 2013

First Look: Sandoozles, a new sandwich-oriented smokehouse on Mount Pleasant

If it wasn’t yet obvious that 2013 is the year of the sandwich in Toronto — what with the openings of Boar, Weldon Park, Brock Sandwich, The Clubhouse Sandwich Shop and the upcoming Sammy’s Sammies — another sandwich-oriented spot has opened its doors, this time on Mount Pleasant.
November 27, 2013

First Look: Touhenboku, a new ramen house on Queen West

For a few months this year, it almost seemed as though Toronto’s explosively popular ramen scene was slowing down. Then, both Sansotei Ramen and Kinton Ramen announced new locations, and last week a Tokyo restaurateur opened Touhenboku Ramen near McCaul on Queen West.
November 20, 2013

First Look: Pukka, a modern Indian restaurant on St. Clair West

In opening a new Indian restaurant on St. Clair Ave. West, business partners Harsh Chawla and Derek Valleau didn’t want to settle for the status quo. So they enlisted the talents of three former Amaya chefs to take care of the food, and they took on renowned sommelier Peter Boyd to handle the wine. The result is Pukka, which opened in mid-October.
November 06, 2013

First Look: Hapa Izakaya at The Ritz-Carlton

As part of the Japanese restaurant takeover that’s been hitting Toronto, Hapa Izakaya has been enjoying brisk business on College Street since last September (though that location has been temporarily shut down due to Toronto’s recent storm troubles).
October 29, 2013

First Look: Estrella Taqueria, an uptown homage to Chicago’s Big Star

“We’re not a Mexican restaurant,” says Otta Zapotocky, co-owner of Willowdale’s soon-to-open Estrella Taqueria. “We’re a bourbon, tequila and taco restaurant.”
October 23, 2013

First Look: La Cubana, a retro Cuban diner on Roncy

Corinna Mozo and Victor Coelho — the husband-and-wife team behind Ossington stalwart Delux — have opened a portal to ’50s Cuba on Roncy called La Cubana.
October 18, 2013