GLOBE BISTRO (124 Danforth, at Broadview, 416-466-2000) Complete dinners for $85 per person (lunches $35, brunches $30), including all taxes, tip and a glass of Ontario wine. Average main $30/$20/$12. Open for lunch Monday to Friday 11:30 am to 2 pm, dinner nightly 5 to 11 pm. Brunch Sunday 11 am to 3 pm; bar nightly till close. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN Rating: NNNNN
Has anyone ever associated the Danforth with fine dining? Sure, it's a great strip for an informal, al fresco family night out, but the boulevard of broken plates is more likely to offer spanokopita and flaming cheese than sweetbreads and foie gras flambé.
The well-orchestrated launch of Globe Bistro last fall has done much to upgrade the culinary reputation of the neighbourhood its website euphemistically describes as "Danforth by the Valley."
You've probably already read about this swellegant supper club in the dailies, the freebies, the weeklies, the monthlies, the bulletin boards and the blogs. After reportedly forking over a million on just the renovation of the former Café Brussel alone, first-time restaurateur Ed Ho wasn't going to wait for word of mouth to get this baby off the ground.
So far, all accounts have used the same term when describing chef Ben Heaton's (ex-Far Niente, Reds) Global card: provenance. It's the latest buzzword in the resto industry and refers to the use of environmentally friendly and locally sourced ingredients, not a Federal-style armoire on the Antiques Roadshow.
Though certainly not radical in concept (haven't Jamie Kennedy and countless others been doing the same thing for years?), there's bite behind the Globe's agenda. At dinner, Georgian Bay pickerel rides a bed of Ontario-grown organic wild rice ($26), La Ferme chicken supreme ($24) gets paired with truffled spaetzle infused with Niagara bacon, and a naturally raised rack of Dorset County lamb ($40) comes sided with a chèvre soufflé presumably made from the milk of a very happy goat named Dorothy.
Swanning down the avenue the other day, I note that the billboard on Globe's roof - second in size only to Pizza Pizza's across the way - now advertises lunch. We're back the following Friday and are somewhat surprised to discover that, apart from a constant parade of tradespeople pushing dollies piled with what must be locally sourced products, we have the place to ourselves.
All evidence of this former bowling alley's art deco days as Brussel or Panama Joe's before that have been erased, replaced by a more formally appointed room in the rear and a more casual bar-slash-lounge up front.
We take a window seat on the slinky banquette and are soon polishing off a basket of tasty house-baked organic Red Fife sourdough spread with a slightly spicy red pepper purée.
Our smooth all-in-black server returns with a salad of David Cohlmeyer's Cookstown Greens ($10) that's reputed to include 35 different types of leaves but appears to be primarily garden-variety romaine, arugula and lollo rosso. Splashed with a Saskatoon berry vinaigrette and tossed with jellied cubes of green apple jelly, they're extraordinarily fresh, no matter what their number.
Globe's innovative take on lowly fish 'n' chips ($18) finds Mill Street organic-lager-battered fillets of Lake Erie perch spectacularly plated alongside dollops of preserved lemon mayo and a faux takeaway box complete with Globe logo of fabulously sea-salted frites.
A simple hamburger ($20 with frites) gets the same treatment, here a remarkably juicy patty of ground Cumbrae chuck stuffed with their delish shredded short ribs. Layered with a melting slab of three-year-old Quebec raw-milk cheddar, butter lettuce, heirloom tomato, crunchy cornichons and Jonathan Forbes's foraged wild mustard, is there a better-built burger in town?
Suitably impressed, we're back two days later for brunch, and Globe is hopping with a decidedly upscale crowd of late 20- and 30-somethings as well as the occasional well-behaved toddler. We'd hoped to check out the swanky rooftop lounge ("The designers tell me it's going to be more like L.A. than Miami," says Ho), but it's still very much under construction. Instead, we're back on the banquette sipping peppercorn-rimmed Caesars ($8) over splendidly house-baked blueberry scones spread with clotted cream ($4).
Damn the cholesterol! Globe's version of eggs Benedict ($12), a dish that's virtually no more than eggs with egg sauce, sees a pair of perfectly poached free-range eggs topped with tea-smoked black cod - kippers, anyone? - toasted pistachios, watercress seedlings and a heavenly Hollandaise nipped Indo-style with cumin that nicely underscores the bed of freshly baked naan they ride.
Ever the contrarian, I side Globe's vegetarian omelette - today blue cheese, diced bell pepper and caramelized onion ($10) - with four plump links of pork sausage from Niagara Prosciutto. A formidable hangover helper, it also features sliced fruit, challah toast and more Cookstown greens as well as deep-fried fingerlings.
But what's with the supermarket cranberry juice ordinaire ($3)? Is it locally sourced from some Muskoka bog or the Loblaws around the corner?
"You're not far off," says Ho. "It's Tropicana."