Sick of the College strip? Well, you may be the only one. Great eateries like these are still drawing crowds.
AIRPORT LOUNGE (492 College, at Palmerston, 416-921-3047) This 70s-inspired psychedelic funkateria is the hottest thing on the strip. Chef Timothy Ng, a former Canoeist, launches tsunamis of taste with globally twisted tapas-style takes on Japanese tradition. Best: Seeing the menu as a frame, Ng paints with the day's catch, market finds and his customers' moods to create one-of-a-kind combos he calls with a wink Le Sashimi Fantastique and L'Inspiration du Moment. Think mini-napoleons of sweet sliced scallop on a translucent bed of pink onion, scooped-out lemons piled with coral-hued flying fish roe, skewered rabbit yakitori and fresh figs in teriyaki glaze, tiny fiddleheads bound to rice by nori ribbons, strawberry tempura with melting chocolate heart and peppermint nip. Complete dinners for $45 per person, including all taxes, tip and a martini. Open Tuesday to Saturday 6 pm to 1 am, bar till 2 am. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN
IRIE (808 College at, Ossington, 416-531-4743) On a street synonymous with Italian food, this modestly decorated Jamaican diner offers island fare with expertise. Best: jerk pork tenderloin -- possibly the city's choicest -- and jerk chicken and shrimp sided with tropical fruit and served with coconut-fragrant nutty rice and peas; jerk chicken-breast salad with designer greens and tart tamarind vinaigrette; JA-style thinnest-crust-ever roti pizza with avocado, sweet-pepper confetti and Parmesan; vegetarian pepperpot soup brimming with Caribbean veggies; thermonuclear hot sauce; cooling fruit punch and coconut cream pie. Complete dinners for $25 per person ($12 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and a tropical punch. Open Sunday to Friday 4 pm to midnight, and Saturday 2 pm to midnight. Licensed. Access: one step at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN
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