It took six months longer to open than anticipated, but the 5,000 foot space that formally housed Autocraft Engine Rebuilder has been transformed into a beautiful and eccentric fine-dining restaurant on Ossington Avenue. It's a success on many levels.
Co-Owner and Chef Paul Boehmer creates a unique dining environment. That's no surprise. After all, he's had several years of experience. A massive and clearly visible kitchen faces an equally open dining area. Two wooden chandeliers, adorn
ed with Swarovski crystals, reflect a refurbished harvest table that serves as the centre-piece of the restaurant and gives it an earthy feel. The sustainability angle doesn't stop there, as refurbished wood and glass houses and protects the back wine rack. Our incredibly gracious server also points out that the house also bottles its own sparkling water.
Sure, enormous spaces and high ceilings usually signify sophisticated and sometimes, pretentious digs. That's not the case here. The restaurant seats 75 comfortably and attracts just about everyone, thanks to its classy, casual feel. With Radiohead and Arcade Fire playing softly over dinner, it clearly isn't your typical fine-dining restaurant. It's easy to feel right at home and enjoy the experience your way.
If sustainability describes the decor, local describes the food. My guest and I start with a Baby Beet Salad with Arugula, Ontario Goat Cheese and Niagara Cranberry Plum vinaigrette ($12). Crisp, fresh and refreshing, it's a great opener. This is one of the few restaurants where I've ask staff to help me pair a cocktail and main. The result was a Winter Mojito ($9) with Atlantic Scallops, Lobster and Tarragon sauce ($26). It worked well together as the ginger and mint of the drink complemented and accentuated the dish and vice versa.
But after sampling my guest's meal, I know what to order next time. Braised Ontario veal cheeks with wild mushrooms plated with potato puree and a red wine jus ($27) was by far, the better choice. Incredibly tender, melt-in-your-mouth veal; even the thought of it would make Pavlov himself salivate.
With exquisitely presented, locally-focused meals and detail-oriented, sustainable decor, Boehmer creates a respectable fine-dining atmosphere with plenty of casual ingredients mixed in.
Price: Moderate. Dinner for 2 with wine will range $75-$100.
Atmosphere: Classy, earthy, casual.
Wine and Spirits: Several cocktails and wines to choose from.
Wheelchair Access: Yes.
Surprise Surprise: Focus on sustainability and locally-grown ingredients.