Toronto's high-end dining scene may have gotten its keister deservedly kicked in 2009, but those specializing in quality product at budget-friendly price points rarely go out of business. Here are our picks to click for the coming year.
Lucky lightning will likely strike twice with the soon-come opening of the provisionally titled Enoteca Sociale by the crew behind popular Pizzeria Libretto (221 Ossington, at Dundas West, 416-532-8000). Located on Dundas west of Ossington - notice a trend? - the new Italian trat will focus on freshly made pasta and cheese.
"Hopefully, we'll pull our own mozzarella," says Libretto co-owner and chef Rocco Agostino.
Bunch of f@!#in' brunch
Stockyards owner Tom Davis says expansion might be in the works.
Previously only available Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, Stockyards Smokehouse & Larder's (699 St Clair West, at Christie, 416-658-9666) super Southern-U.S.-style barbecued ribs and chicken are now available Saturdays after 5 pm as well. NOW's 2009 restaurant of the year also promises weekend brunch starting in early January. Pit boss Tom Davis also hints that a second, larger Stockyards is in the cards. Closer downtown, we hope.
Though Jamie Kennedy took a big hit in 09, his downsized Gilead Café (4 Gilead, at King East, 647-288-0680) continues to pack 'em in. Starting next Thursday, the Corktown cantina starts its first-ever dinner service, the following Sunday its inaugural brunch.
The Harbord Room (89 Harbord, at Spadina, 416-962-8989) stopped doing brunch months ago. With the kitchen open till 2 am Saturday night, then re-opening the next morning at 11, brunch wasn'tgoing to happen. But now Harbord is putting its energy into special Sunday-night suppers, when 45 bucks gets you a five-course "blind" prix fixe. Cocktail pairings, too. Bring a flashlight.
Debu's Market debut?
Those who fondly remember the Biryani House on sadly demolished Roy's Square will be heartened to learn that owner/chef Debu Saha - now of uptown Debu's (552 Mount Pleasant, at Belsize, 416-927-9340) - looks to launch a new BH in Kensington Market later this spring. Saha says the new joint will be a return to his Roy's Square roots and offer inexpensive Indian take-aways and thalis.
Thuets do it again
They might have closed their Atelier in Liberty Village, but Marc Thuet and Biana Zorich are set open a fourth Petite Thuet in the former Zoulpy's Deli on King East in the very near future. Zorich describes the new location as a "commissary kitchen, bakery and large production patisserie." Think Gilead Café. There'll also be a 120-seat patio come summer.
And Conviction Kitchen, the couple's Citytv-produced food TV reality series, starts filming its second season in April in Vancouver.
Might we suggest shooting it in a women's prison?
Over at locavore Cowbell (1564 Queen West, at Sorauren, 416-849-1095), Mark Cutrara hosts a pig butchery demo on January 24 (admission is $100, with pints and charcuterie/swine free), followed by a $65 artisanal sausage and micro-beer party two nights later, on January 26.
"Breaking out of the mould is the name of the game now," says Cutrara.
And beginning February 9 and running through February 23, Allen's (143 Danforth, at Broadview, 416-463-3086) presents its fifth annual Steak Festival. Count on 40 different cuts of beef and bison from 26 area farms, all designated by breed, feed, age and sexual preference.