The premise of the column is simple; work with restaurants of all kinds in this amazing city to explore what they have to offer and what makes them unique. In a city like Toronto, the choices are sometimes daunting and the food reviews and critics can be snotty and too complicated for their own good. So why not keep this easy?
Drinks. Appetizer. Main Course. Dessert. All along with a bit of information about what makes them our choice for Daniel’s Dish and why you should try them right away!
El Catrin Destileria, 18 Tank House Lane. (416) 203-2121
Recently, I had the pleasure of joining El Catrin Destileria for an intimate preview of what this new restaurant in Toronto’s Historic Distillery District has to offer. As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I’m a huge fan of Latin food of all kinds. But, when I found out that Chef Olivier Le Calvez had come on board all the way from Mexico City to bring his authentic Mexican menu to this gorgeous new space, I knew I was in for a treat. Bringing French, Asian and Mexican influences to his menu, Chef Le Calvez helps create El Catrin’s innovative dishes to pair with the beauty of the restaurant alongside the beauty of his food.
When you walk into this newly designed space, you are greeted by over the top Mexican decor, from the imported tiles that adorn the floors to the now infamous floor-to-ceiling mural and over-sized chandeliers; the place is set when it comes to ambiance.
” With Chef Olivier’s guidance, uncompromising service is the result of staff who are fully educated on every part of the menu, he strives to have every guest feel truly at home, so they are able to genuinely unwind, enjoy and have dining experiences that exceed expectations.”
Although I wish I could go into detail on all eight courses we were privy to, I’ll choose a few of my favourites to tempt your palette since the design will definitely tempt your other senses.
With a cocktail menu like this one you’ve got a selection and then some to choose from. If you’re in the mood for something refreshing, my absolute favourite cocktail is the Fuego Sandia. It’s literal translation is ‘Watermelon Fire’ and is made with fresh watermelon, Saint Germain & Tromba Blanco. It’s delicious and makes for one hell of a patio cocktail at any time of the day. Or if you just can’t decide, why not try a Tequilla flight served with Sangritas? A crowd pleaser and perfect pair with several dishes or just to kick-start a FASHIONIGHTS kind of night on the town.
There’s something to be said about the quality of a restaurant based solely upon the quality of its food. I don’t care if you have the hottest spot in the city and the chicest decor to top it off, if your menu is shit I’m not coming back. It’s just that simple. You have no idea how impressive it is to order Guacamole En Le Mesa only to have a Mortar & Pestle brought over with a whole avocado and fresh ingredients that are then made for you at the table.
Fresh cilantro with hints of serrano chilli, this smoothe buttery avocado is exactly what comes to mind when I crave Mexican food. Being that the menu is Tapas in style, I recommend you try the Vuelve A La Vida Catrin. An east coast oyster topped with a savoury seafood ceviche full of shrimp, octopus, scallops and more. A seafood lover’s dream come true and a must in my books.
Taking a modern twist of a classic dish, the Tostada de Higado de Pato is one of the most amazing Mexican dishes I have had in a long time. Traditional corn tostada are elegantly topped with a seared foie gras which is playfully paired with mango syrup and acidic red onion relish. Foie gras is finally starting to make a come back in the culinary world, and this is a bold step to incorporate it into a dish which embodies what Mexican food should be! A perfect fusion dish if I’ve ever seen one.
Dessert doesn’t have to be overlooked in a restaurtant like this because it is just the right amount to satisfy your sweet tooth in perfect bite sized portions. The Churros are home made! Paired with three choices of home made sauce for dipping, you won’t be the only one licking the last drop off your finger after you wipe out your metal ramequin.
My favourite was the Barra de Chocolat which is made with Mexican dark chocolate, double smoked and spiced hazelnut. It starts sweet and almost too rich on the tongue and ends with a healthy kick of spicyness. And if you aren’t a dessert person, why not finish your night with the Agua de Coco? A refreshing cocktail made with Patron Café, Amarula, Fresh Coconut water and lemon. Um, I’ll take three, thank you
So be it the 5000 square foot patio, the stunning decor, the incredible food or the impeccable service, El Catrin is one of Toronto’s newest power players in the restaurant world. I encourage you to get out for a night out with the girls on the patio or a romantic dinner for two and remember to tweet @ElCatrinCA & @DoTheDaniel to tell #DanielsDish all about your experience!