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TRINITY TAVERNA (1681 Lake Shore East, at Northern Dancer, 416-698-3456, trinitytaverna.com, @TrinityTaverna) Complete dinners for $100 per person (lunches $50), including tax, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $40/$25. Open daily for lunch 11:30 am to 4:30 pm, dinner 5 to 11:30 pm. Reservations accepted. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
Next to "automatic gratuity," are there any two words on a restaurant menu more terrifying than "market price"?
You see them occasionally on the cartes of expense-account boîtes like Canoe or Splendido next to dishes called Lobster Extravaganza or Full-Frontal Lobe Of Foie Gras, the phrase the resto equivalent of "If you have to ask, you can't afford it." There are 14 items on Trinity Taverna's dinner listed as market price, all of them seafood.
This will certainly come as a surprise to anyone who remembers this sprawling new Greek cantina on the lake from its previous incarnation as the Boardwalk Pub. Not that they'd recognize it, replaced by a jaw-droppingly gorgeous 600-seat resto-lounge that would look more at home on South Beach than Woodbine Beach.
Sitting under a trellis with the light reflecting off the water this near-tropical Sunday afternoon, it's hard to imagine we're still in Toronto - until the 90-decibel thud of generic house music kick in. It beats Zorba and his zither, I suppose.
"I've lost half my hearing since I started working here," laughs our affable server.
Since we're sticking to dishes with actual prices next to them, we start with a trio of blackened banana peppers ($9) that are spicy only in name, finished with a crumble of salty feta and a splash of superior olive oil. Two smallish tentacles of grilled octopus ($15 lunch/$19 dinner) follow in a sticky-sweet balsamic reduction that recalls cough syrup. Some bread would be good.
Ex-MBCo chef Pierre Restivo sends out a tasty take on the lowly gyro ($16/$18), here a tangle of both slow-roasted and crispy lamb dressed with caramelized "French" shallots, salsa-style tomato relish and tzatziki and wrapped in a grilled whole-wheat pita of no particular provenance. And his braised 'n' stewed veal-cheek moussaka - described on the menu as a "Sunday lunch dish" ($18/$32 for two at dinner) and this being Sunday lunch - layered with eggplant caviar, creamy scalloped potatoes and a classic béchamel bests any currently available on the Danforth.
At lunch, a bland tranche of Mediterranean sea bass comes sided with very good chunky frites and a heap of wilted Swiss chard. At dinner, the same fish has a market price of $32 per pound for up to 3 pounds, minus the sides. And we really want to try the loukoumades - those addictively delish Greco Timbits drizzled in honey ($12) - but are informed they're not available because either "they're a fall dessert" or "we took them off the menu because no one ever ordered them."
Just as well as they're $3.50 for a baker's dozen at the new Athens Pastries next door.