Here are our picks for three of the best places tasty Toronto has to offer. Whether you’re looking for hip and casual like Luma; delectable Middle Eastern cuisine at Diwan; or French refinement with Colette Grand Café, Toronto is a foodie’s dream.
Located inside the TIFF Lightbox (the multistory headquarters of the Toronto International Film Festival) is stylish and casual Luma. Here, you’ll discover such treats as a roasted cauliflower salad that combines flavors and textures in a startlingly delicious way: crispy cauliflower florets, smooth and slightly chewy beluga lentils, a bit of a kick from harissa dressing, and crunchy hazelnuts. With mains ranging from veal meatballs to Cornish hen with leek bread pudding, it’s a difficult choice for the next course, but go with the trout salad bowl, with fresh pink trout atop a bed of black rice, toasted nori shreds, and sesame seeds giving it a bit of Asian flair, and a poached egg sitting insouciantly next to a row of avocado slices. To finish, try the Sweet Treats, a collection of little delights: Luma chocolate bar, carrot cake, lemon square, chocolate chip cookie, and other wonders, with a zigzag of dark chocolate ganache running across the plate. The Film Festival is one of Toronto’s’ major events, but even when there’s no festival, there’s still Luma, for a taste (literally) of the sophisticated good life in Toronto. 350 King St. W., 2nd floor. Tel: 647-288-4715. www.lumarestaurant.
Set within the stunning new Aga Khan Museum on the outskirts of the city, is a combination of tradition and ingenuity. Like the must-see museum itself, Diwan explores the riches of the Middle East, North Africa, and the Indian subcontinent. Local star chef Mark McEwan dazzles with the gastronomic diversity of the Muslim world, inspired but not limited by its creations. The room has a Middle Eastern look, with 19th-century wood panels carved in Damascus—a hint of the Mideast without beating you over the head with it. The food’s the same: as you dig into masala-spiced fries or grilled octopus with chick pea salad and Moroccan olives, you’ll be tempted to stop there. Move on, though, to salmon with eggplant purée and couscous or a chicken salad made with saffron-marinated grilled chicken. Have you left room for dessert? Orange semolina cake awaits, as does a rosewater/buttermilk panna cotta with pistachios and currants. A perfect lunch stop in a thrilling new museum. 77 Wynford Dr., Tel: 416-646-4670. www.agakhanmuseum.org/dine
COLLETTE GRAND CAFE
The moment you enter the Colette Grand Café at the Thompson Hotel, you’ve stepped into a world of French refinement, with tall plants, a series of archways, marble-topped tables, a rich wood sideboard, and low lights casting a flattering glow over the happy diners. The beet salad is a perfect starter, the beets are arranged over arugula with dots of bleu cheese, slivers of radicchio, and sweet toasted walnuts. Duck confit is crispy outside and tender and flavorful underneath, the perfect preparation of this difficult dish. There are great dessert choices here as well: a chocolate/raspberry vegan cake that’s enough to convert the most dedicated carnivore and comes with a taste bud-tingling coconut and lychee sorbet, carrot cake with nutmeg ice cream, and the chocolate/hazelnut praline cake. With Colette Grand Café just a short trip upstairs from the lobby, you may want to book a room at this stylish boutique hotel so you can experience the comfort, the service, and (needless to say) the great food every day. 550 Wellington St., W. Tel: 647-348-7000. www.colettetoronto.com