Chase duo breaks even


CHASE (10 Temperance, at Yonge, 647-348-7000,, @thechaseTO) Complete dinners for $85 per person (lunches $55), including tax, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $35/$26. Open Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 11 pm, Saturday 5 pm to midnight. Closed Sunday, holidays. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NN

CHASE FISH & OYSTER (10 Temperance, at Yonge, 647-348-7000,, @thechaseTO) Complete meals for $55 per person, including tax, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $25. Open Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 1 am, Saturday 5 pm to midnight Sunday 5 to 10 pm. Closed holidays. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN

Figuring out where all the secret TIFF cocktail/dinner/after-parties will be taking place over the next two weeks shouldn’t be that difficult. Just look for a swanky resto-lounge in the downtown core with the odd private room or two and a bottomless wine cellar, and Billy Bob Thornton’s your uncle.

Glitzy joints like the month-old Chase in the gorgeously renovated Dineen Building will be hosting several soirées during the Flick Fest. There are actually two Chases: the flagship resto that runs the length of the fifth floor, with a spectacular patio, and the slightly lower-rent Chase Fish & Oyster on the first. Though ex-Reds executive chef Michael Steh is in charge of both, they’re two very different kettles of sustainable seafood.

At F&O, chef sends out beautiful summer-ripe heirloom tomatoes layered with creamy buttermilk dressing as a starter or side ($10), and crisply breaded Lake Erie pickerel over caper-rich tartar sauce, radicchio slaw and dehydrated veggie chips ($23) as all-day mains. His burger also impresses, a hefty 8 ounces of medium-rare naturally raised Cumbrae beef dressed with sharp PEI cheddar, pickled jalapeño and parsley aioli, a ramekin of perfectly executed frites to reluctantly share on the side.

And no one will go home hungry after an order of fried chicken (both $20), two large supremes of Cornish hen with wings attached that were marinated in buttermilk overnight, then brilliantly battered in cornflake crumbs. As if that weren’t enough, you also get a house-baked cheddar bun, a jar of tasty hot-sauce butter and a sizable heap of Savoy cabbage slaw finished with provolone. Little wonder there’s no room for dessert.

While our late lunch at the near-empty F&O was relatively relaxed, two days later at Chase, the scene is wall-to-wall suits. We’re lucky to snare a two-top next to a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the McDonald’s across the street, let alone a table on that star-studded terrace. We’ve hit the tail end of service, so the kitchen’s understandably slow, but we don’t expect everything to arrive all at once. And lukewarm.

“Your tartare!” announces our polished pro with a flourish, plopping the plate down alongside our two mains and a side.

Tartare? We call it randomly hacked raw yellow-fin tuna mixed with a few chopped cherry tomatoes, avocado and baby romaine leaves in an unappetizingly warm lemon aioli laced with runny soft-poached egg yolk ($18). Yuck or what?

Scallops – the plural technically correct as there are one and a half of them – come nicely grilled on a bed of on-trend quinoa and a puddle of puréed garden peas. Too bad the plate also includes superfluous chunks of deep-fried ham hock and yet another oddly poached egg ($29), 70 minutes en sous-vide, we’re told, though it could have used another 15.

At a Bay Street boîte where $52 gets you a 10-ounce rib-eye, $22 for roasted artichoke hearts crusted with almonds over garlicky romesco sauce ($24 at dinner) should be a bargain, but not when there’s just one of them and the accompanying crostini are soggy, never mind their fishy smoked sturgeon “à la Greque” garnish. And three cheesy gnocchi and a few sliced carrots in butter sauce – heirloom or otherwise – doesn’t constitute a $10 side in our book.

There’s no faulting pastry chef Leslie Boychuk’s lime-curd-infused angel food cake with toasted coconut and marshmallow meringue ($10), except that you can’t get it downstairs. Shame that. Unlike Fish & Oyster, the Chase isn’t quite ready for the spotlight. | @stevendaveynow



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