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First Look

First Look: Pai, a Northern Thai restaurant in the entertainment district

It was spring of last year when word got out that chef Nuit Regular and her husband Jeff — the couple behind some of the best Thai restaurants in the city — would be opening a new downtown restaurant in the site of a former Golden Griddle. Now, nearly a year and a half later, the new place is finally open.
July 22, 2014

First Look: The Ossington Stop

The restaurant-dense neighbourhood at Ossington and Dundas West is already well-supplied with seafood restaurants, some of Toronto’s best pizza, and at least one high-end burger joint. William Tavares (Fishbar, Salt Wine Bar) thinks that there is an untapped market in the area for value-priced comfort food and no-frills drinks.
July 17, 2014

First Look: Mata Petisco Bar serves up South American soul food

It took five humans to launch Mata, which opened in June. After working together in the hospitality industry (Fishbar, Salt Wine Bar, Little Baci, Note Bene, India Ale House), Steve Fernandes, Sharath Dwarkanathan and chefs Felipe Faccioli, Patrick Fraser, and Tulio Lessa decided to “stop working for others and join forces.”
July 14, 2014

First Look: The Distillery District’s new French bistro Cluny

With four successful restaurants under their belts, owners Matthew Rosenblatt and John Berman (El Catrin, The Boiler House, Pure Spirits, and Archeo) decided to open a fifth, the newest addition to the Distillery District, Cluny Bistro and Boulangerie.
June 26, 2014

First Look: Shibui brings Japanese robata grilling style to Toronto

Japanese restaurants seem to come to Toronto in waves. Izakayas followed sushi restaurants, and we've quadrupled the number of good ramen joints in the past two years. Is robata next?
June 23, 2014

First Look: Rasa, a new Harbord Village restaurant from the Food Dudes

These days, Food Dudes Inc. is a booming business. The company caters around 1,000 events per year from its massive kitchen in Toronto’s east end, resulting in millions of dollars of revenue per year. So it may seem strange that the owners have spent the last eight months and nearly half a million dollars setting up a 50-seat restaurant near Harbord and Spadina.
June 20, 2014

First Look: The Good Son, a new Queen West restaurant from chef Vittorio Colacitti

Chef Vittorio Colacitti has an unusually varied resume. He’s done fine dining (at George, Lucien and Didier); he’s done corporate gigs (he was a chef with Loblaws); he’s done pizza (at Pizzeria Via Mercanti and in Italy) and he’s done television (he was on season four of Top Chef Canada). Now he’s doing his own thing with The Good Son.
June 12, 2014

First Look: Touhenboku Ramen expands to Yonge and Eglinton

Residents of North Toronto no longer have to head south of Bloor for a decent bowl of ramen. On May 29, Touhenboku Ramen opened its second location on Yonge Street at Erskine, just north of Eglinton.
June 05, 2014

First Look: The Forth, a new east-end restaurant from former Brassaii chef Chris Kalisperas

Toronto’s east side has pretty much always lagged behind the west in terms of culinary development, but a tide of new and upcoming restaurants is slowly balancing the scales. The latest newcomer is The Forth, and it’s no small contribution.
May 29, 2014

First Look: I Went to Philly, a new cheese steak destination on Eglinton West

Around two years ago, Julie and Jack Stevenson opened I Went to Philly — their first restaurant — near Yonge and College, serving some of the most authentic Philly cheese steak sandwiches in the city. Apparently Toronto liked it, because earlier this month, the husband-and-wife team expanded their operation to midtown.
May 21, 2014

First Look: SmoQue N Bones, a new smokehouse near Trinity Bellwoods park

The life of a pitmaster can be a complicated one. The lengthy list of concerns can include any or all of the following: marinades, brines, injections, rubs, wood, fire, sauces, smoke and of course, meat. Just about everything involved is time-consuming. But Alex Rad, owner and chef of the newly opened SmoQue N Bones, is keeping things simple.
May 14, 2014

First Look: Peoples Eatery, the new Chinatown offshoot of 416 Snack Bar

There was once a time when snacking meant something completely different in Toronto than it does now. Back then, snacking probably involved chips or something, and it probably went down in front of a television at home. Then 416 Snack Bar opened at Queen and Bathurst, and everything changed. Torontonians realized that snacking can and should happen all the freaking time.
May 09, 2014

First Look: Farmer’s Daughter Eatery, a new restaurant from Farmhouse Tavern

Sibling restaurants are all the rage in Toronto these days — see Buca and Bar Buca, F’Amelia and Extended F’Amelia, The Harbord Room and THR & Co. — but restaurateur Darcy MacDonell didn’t have that in mind when he opened Farmer’s Daughter Eatery last week. Simply looking to open a new business in the city, MacDonell happened to find a great location just down the street from his first restaurant, Farmhouse Tavern.
May 01, 2014

First Look: Fat Pasha, a new Jewish-inspired restaurant from chef Anthony Rose

It was only around two years ago when Anthony Rose, fresh off his stint as chef at The Drake Hotel, announced an ambitious — some would say crazy — plan to open three new restaurants in Toronto.
April 24, 2014

First Look: Luckee, a new high-end dim sum restaurant from chef Susur Lee

While dim sum will always be a part of Toronto’s collective unconscious, it seems to be having a bit of a moment these days. High-end chefs are getting into it, including the inimitable Susur Lee, who opened his highly anticipated Luckee at the SoHo Metropolitan Hotel earlier this month.
April 17, 2014

First Look: Byblos, a new Mediterranean restaurant in Toronto’s club district

In continuing their steady takeover of Toronto’s dining scene — following the openings of the hugely successful Weslodge Saloon and Patria — restaurateurs-du-jour Hanif Harji and Charles Khabouth had originally planned to open a seafood restaurant as their latest venture. Then, Harji took a business trip to the Middle East, where he experienced food that he knew he had to bring to Toronto.
April 10, 2014

First Look: Cleo, a contemporary Middle Eastern restaurant near Yonge and Lawrence

Samir Girgis is quick to clarify that he came up with the concept for his new Middle Eastern restaurant, Cleo, about a year ago. This is an important detail to highlight, because it seems like every new restaurant that opens in Toronto these days — such as Rose City Kitchen, Byblos, S. Lefkowitz and chef Anthony Rose’s soon-to-open Fat Pasha — has a solid Middle Eastern bent.
April 03, 2014

First Look: The County Cocktail & Snack Bar, a versatile new hangout spot on Queen East

When Carlo Catallo parted ways with Splendido at the end of 2013 — he had co-owned the place with Victor Barry, and helped build it into the legendary success it is now — his plan was to focus on his other business, The County General, and expand its brand across the city. Earlier this month, he took on the east end with his latest venture, The County Cocktail & Snack Bar.
March 26, 2014

First Look: East Thirty-Six, a new cocktail bar and restaurant on Wellington St.

With the opening of East Thirty-Six last week, the St. Lawrence neighbourhood now has another upscale watering hole for after-work drinks. One of the owners, Julien Salomone, describes it as an "Old New York cocktail bar that mixes 1920s style with a bit of modern decor."
March 20, 2014

First Look: Yakitori Kintori, a new venture from the team behind Guu

In a small second-storey space above Kinton Ramen in Koreatown, cooks fan the embers at a binchotan grill, sending a geyser of bright orange sparks into the air. Aside from the greeters at the front — who shout “mushi-mushi” to each new guest — the spectacle is likely the first thing customers will notice at Yakitori Kintori, the latest restaurant from Guu owner James Kim.
March 12, 2014