LATITUDE WINE BAR & GRILL (89 Harbord Street, at Spadina, 416-928-0926) Complete dinners for $50 per person ($25 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and an $8 glass of wine. Average main: $8 lunch, $20 dinner. Open for lunch 11:30 am to 3 pm daily, for dinner Monday to Wednesday 5:30 to 9:30 pm, Thursday to Saturday 5:30 to 10:30 pm. Weekend brunch. Licensed. Access: three steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
I'm a slut for charm. welcome me , flatter me, amuse me, and I forget myself. So it goes with Eduardo Barillas, Mexico City banker-turned-Toronto restaurateur. He charms so thoroughly and authentically I forget to be fidgety and annoyed about non-smoking rules. His intimate 30-seat bistro offers nouvelle-ish cuisine with a skilful Latin flair, so while plates are exceptionally pretty, they're also abundantly filled.
My brunch guest orders what I desire: herbed scrambled eggs ($8) piled on a warm flour tortilla with black beans and cubes of roasted sweet and new potatoes.
Given a choice of Chilean chorizo, plantain or bacon, he wisely picks the chorizo: handmade with lean ground pork, "no pica" but wonderfully seasoned with saffron, coriander and green onions.
Torrejas ($8.50), a variation on french toast, consists of two thick pieces of fresh egg-dipped bread with cream cheese, slices of guava jelly and kiwi purée sandwiched between. Very nice, but my order envy over the savoury chorizo and eggs makes it seems slightly too sweet and cloying by completion.
Returning for lunch days later, we're greeted like celebrities. The hefty beef burger ($8) earns Barillas's "best in the city" boast. Flecked with red pepper, it's served with fried tomatoes and chilies topped with a dollop of herbed mayo in a soft poppy seed bun, and comes with flawless fries and mixed greens with a lovely, light passion fruit vinaigrette.
The Seafood Frita ($8), a golden-brown patty of ground shrimp, scallops and squid mixed with just enough egg to adhere, is exquisite, and also served on a soft bun, ingeniously condimentized with mild horseradish sauce and tomatoes and served with an order of sweet potato frites and salad.