ELIXIR (522 Bloor West, at Bathurst, 416-597-2915) Since relocating to the Annex, T.O.'s once classiest Persian eatery has moved into the culinary mainstream . Expect exemplary contemporary cuisine with an occasional Middle Eastern touch - grilled eggplant topped with sun-dried chèvre, perhaps? Complete dinners for $40 per person, including all taxes, tip and a $5 imported beer. Open for dinner Sunday to Thursday 5 to 11 pm, Friday-Saturday 5 pm to midnight. Bar open till close. Licensed. Access: barrier-free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
When Elixir's real-life partners Firooz Jafari and Sabrina Chora asked me not to list their divine destination dining room in NOW's Persian restaurant listings two years ago, I worried they were over-reacting to post-9/11 anti-Arab histeria. But after sampling Elixir's current card, I see that their concern was quite different. Once the classiest eatery of its type in town, the Annex mainstay has evolved far beyond its original Spadina roots and grown into a very good contemporary restaurant, much like 93 Harbord, that draws on its heritage to create something unique.
Elixir has downsized its menu and modified its remarkable mains to attract a more mainstream clientele. Some favourites remain - classics like grilled Elixir Eggplant ($6.95) smothered in caramelized onion and sun-dried goat cheese - but most of the prix fixe card is new.
The $15 vegetarian version starts with either vegan lentil soup lashed with chilies or organic greens in mango emulsion, and follows with a choice of fabulous butternut squash or mildly fired eggplant curry. The deluxe $25 ticket begins with a dozen or so escargots bathed in a sweet jalfrezi-style gravy and continues with a bistro-correct 10-ounce strip loin deliriously sauced with boozy portobello mushrooms in cream that wouldn't be out of place at far swankier spots. Both deals include swell saffron-scented mashed potatoes or basmati as well as lightly buttered veggies.
Finish with lush rice pudding dusted with cinnamon, sultanas and green pistachios or let the proceedings all sink in with custardy, cookbook-correct crème caramel.