F&W's roundup of the best restaurants in Toronto, from star chef Susur Lee's newest place to a seafood spot launched by a World Oyster Opening Champion. For more great restaurants, check out our guide to the world's best places to eat.

October 17, 2011

Restaurants

C5 Restaurant and Lounge

Cantilevered over the city in Daniel Libeskind's new addition to the Royal Ontario Museum,C5 has sweeping views of the skyline. In the open kitchen, chef Ted Corrado produces elegant"Toronto cuisine," a mix of influences, as in a perfect smoked octopus with Ibericoham, yucca, red pepper gelée and pea tendril.
We loved: The new Afternoon Tea—from the Dungeness crab and wasabi finger sandwiches tothe foie gras profiteroles.

Cava

The menu at this tapas spot runs from fun (chipotle-caramel popcorn) to high-minded (thehouse-made charcuterie and pintxos—small bites—of sea urchin with pickledcabbage). Diners can't go wrong with dessert at the restaurant (spiced plum clafouti withpistachio ice cream) or at Cava's just-launched chocolate shop, Xococava.
We loved: The chorizo truffle (milk chocolate encasing chorizo ganache).

Colborne Lane

Now in its third year, this industrial-chic restaurant is still the city's hottest.Chef-owner Claudio Aprile bristles at the term molecular gastronomy, but there arefuturistic elements in uninhibited, borderless dishes like prawn ceviche with avocado and two kindsof aioli, puffed corn noodles and corn nuts, and desserts like Thai-chile ice cream with acardamom-caramel powder prepared tableside with a nitrogen dispenser.
We loved: Crispy stir-fried squid with caramelized peanuts, Asian pear, Chinese sausage and pinkgrapefruit.
Insider tip: Book the chef's table in the kitchen for a 15-course tasting menu.

Foxley

Chef Tom Thai gets inspiration for his menu of simple dishes with unexpected flavors fromSoutheast Asia, the Mediterranean and Latin America. He sautés frog's legs with Sichuanpeppers, for instance, and stuffs his ingenious potstickers with duck prosciutto and lamb. Theceviches, especially the sea bream flavored with yuzu and shiso, are a triumph.
We loved: Pork ribs with a sticky caramelized-shallot glaze.

Lai Wah Heen

At this modern Chinese banquet hall (think maple paneling, framed Chinese calligraphy andlacquered high-back chairs), seafood from both coasts is kept live in tanks until cooked. Disheslike wok-fried lobster medallions with deep-fried claws are wonderful, but the restaurant is mostfamous for its innovative dim sum, like the fillet of bass with thousand-year-old egg in a riceroll.
We loved: Delicate dumplings of egg white, minced scallop and Japanese fish roe.

Lucien

Chef Scot Woods has returned from an apprenticeship at Chicago's Alinea with moreexperimental ideas for his two-year-old spot near the St. Lawrence Market—an emergingrestaurant area that's also home to Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar and Colborne Lane. His reworkingof the classics includes a fried chicken he makes by cooking the breast sous-vide, then frying theskin to a crisp.
We loved: The Chocolate Complex, pure chunks of artisanal chocolate.

Madeline's

When star chef Susur Lee announced he was shuttering his famed Susur and decamping for NewYork, Toronto's food cognoscenti mourned. And then—surprise—he turned Susur intoMadeline's (named after his mother). The Mediterranean-inspired family-style dishes include everything from sautéed chanterelle mushrooms in a Marsala cream sauce served in a copper pot to spot-onroasted duck breast with a honey and chili-orange glaze.
We loved: The crispy lobster in noisette (brown butter), with chili lime and lemonbalm.

Nota Bene

Chef David Lee and partners decided to take advantage of the opening of Toronto's newOpera House to set up shop nearby with this more affordable alternative to the team'shigh-end Splendido. Lee turns out finely wrought French-, Latin- and Asian-inspired dishes likeYucatan hot and sour soup with goji berries and smoked chicken, and 60-day dry-aged steaks from hisprivate stock of naturally raised cattle.
We loved: Sumac-dusted crispy duck tossed with green papaya slaw and cashews.

Pizza Libretto

Owner Max Rimaldi's pizza joint on the white-hot Ossington strip serves authenticNeapolitan pizzas fired in a wood-burning oven imported from Italy. Starters include charcuterielike house-made duck prosciutto, but the clear draw is the pizza: crunchy, blistered crusts toppedwith things like homemade sausage, wild mushrooms and duck confit.
We loved: The pizza Margherita with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh basil, and local cow'smilk mozzarella.

starfish Oyster Bed and Grill

What happens when a World Oyster Opening Champion launches a restaurant? In the case of Starfishowner Patrick McMurray, the results are a stellar, daily changing selection of oysters, fish andseafood, plus fun dishes like Lake Huron pickerel with lobster pierogies.
We loved: The oyster tasting at the bar, with everything from sweet Prince Edward IslandMalpeques to little Kumamotos from Washington State.

More Food Destination Guides:

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Rising Star Chefs

7 Best Bars

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