The premise of the column is simple; work with restaurants of all kinds to explore what they have to offer and what makes them unique. What nifty menu engineering have they employed. 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 my choice for Daniel’s Dish and why you should try them right away! Reminds of a fantastic Bella Cosa Restaurant in Canary Wharf a friend told me about!
One Restaurant, 116 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 1H5
Have you ever had one of those experiences at a restaurant that you know you’ll remember for the rest of your life? Off the top of my head, I can only name a few such experiences that I will carry in my heart and memory for the rest of my life. Eating lunch at Le Jules Verne in the Eiffel Tower over looking Paris, My first ever Daniel’s Dish at KITCH bar years ago & now dinner at One Restaurant. Yes, the experience was so memorable that it now ranks as one of the best in my long list of restaurants I have worked and eaten at. Being able to resolve problems such as a broken down freezer by using the services of a freezer hire company, or thinking on your feet about what to do when it comes to running out of food, this is something that is commendable in an industry like this. Everyone has their obstacles to overcome, but the way you go about it says so much more.
So let’s get a little bit of context about the restaurant to explain why I feel so strongly about it.
“ONE Restaurant is chef and restaurateur Mark McEwan’s North American contemporary Yorkville hotspot. With a variety of beautiful dining spaces to choose from, and dishes that will delight the palate, ONE is sure to impress. … Whether the occasion be personal or business, you and your guests will walk away, not only satisfied, but with an experience to remember. ONE Restaurant is located in the boutique Hazelton Hotel.”
Immediately as you walk into the restaurant you feel a sense of grandeur and elegance. Dimly lit in the evening, the decor offers finishing touches including pony hair walls and crisp white linen. The bar, infamously known to host celebrities when they are in town (Drake & The Spice Girls, just to name a few) is the hotspot of Yorkville for an after work martini or glass of wine. The dinning room is clean lines and simple touches with the stark contrast of the red velvet walls of the private dinning room in the rear. The room & staff are beautiful and help to create a fine dinning experience from the moment you walk in to the memories you hold as you leave.
The evening, which I must admit was a very long time ago (I think I need to hire an assistant!) was to officially celebrate the recent addition of Chef de Cuisine Darby Piquette to the McEwan Group family in late 2014. I have never in all my years in and out of this industry met a chef so young, so vibrant and so unique in such a high ranking role. Not to mention he works for one of the masters of the culinary world, Chef Mark McEwan, who for the record is a total stud in person.
Covered in tattoos and alive with a passion for food that is contagious, Darby & the staff of One Restaurant guided us through a culinary adventure like no other in Toronto. Thoughtfully composed dishes, french style service and a sense of pride in presentation that I would even call art all combined for an experience that you simply have to see to believe.
Chef Darby’s favourite dish on his newly launched menu? “My venison dish … cocoa rubbed venison short loin, with seared foie gras, heirloom squash ravioli, wilted spinach, agro dulce cippolini onions, dark chocolate, fried sage, and a black currant veal jus. I first thought of this dish many years ago when I first started at the restaurant. I had the chance to test run it for my girlfriend’s birthday, Amy who is the Head Pastry Chef at One. And now I finally had the chance to put it on my first menu as the Chef of the restaurant.”
So let’s get to my personal favourites from the plethora of dishes I had the chance to enjoy!
The impressive bar aforementioned has so many choices that you might be tempted to try them all. But, would that be such a bad thing? In situations where I am faced with a daunting list of choices, I will always trust my server to guide my experience. Though I ended up sipping on Prosecco all night, the possibilites are endless depending on the style of meal you are enjoying. Be it a business meeting over Martinis or a romantic dinner for two with cocktails and a bottle of wine… One Restaurant has an option to please any palette insofar as drinks are concerned.
By now, those of you who follow the Daniel’s Dish experience will know I am a sucker for steak tartare. For many years, the concept of the dish was completely unappealing to me until I tried it in my early twenties and realized what I had been missing out on. Atop a cripy buttered crostini, PEI grass fed beef tenderloin is combined with horseradish aioli, sweet pickled shallot & crisp parsley. One might suggest this two bite appetizer be enjoyed delicately, or if you’re like me and have a big mouth (pun intended of course) enjoy it in one fell swoop.
For the pescetarians of the world, I would highly recommend you try the Yellowfin Tuna Sashimi paired playfully with yuzu dressing, coriander & jalapeno. Many chefs shy away from bold flavours in a tuna or fish sashimi dish. Pairing it with sweet & salty flavours showed the boldness of Chef Darby in his interpretation and left me smiling. The asian inspiration and delicate balance needed to not overwhelm the tuna had me realizing very early on in the meal how talented Chef Darby truly is.
I am NOT a pasta person. I’m not sure what it is about pasta dishes, but they have never been my carb of choice. Give me a fresh baked bread and butter and I would be a happy man. That being said, when I write about a pasta dish it is because it impressed me so much so that I feel the need to share it with you all. The Butternut Squash Ravioli was one of these experiences. Combined with taleggio cream, pickled onion, brown butter vinaigrette, pine nut brittle & Perigord Black Truffle. The intricate flavours of acidity and buttery decadence danced on my tongue. The addition of black truffle offered an earthiness to ground this dichotomy in a way that showcased that flavour balance I came to realize was present in almost every dish. Balance is important to a Libra like me, especially in my food choices!
For those of you looking for something a little heartier as a main course, The Wagyu Striploin with Roasted Beef Bone Marrow is a classic steak & potato dish taken to heavenly new heights. Served with herb gremolata (a classic combination of parsley & lemon) & triple cooked chips. Wagyu beef is one of the best qualities you can buy in the world and for good reason. The meat melts like butter and paired with the beef bone marrow’s decadent profile perfectly. In contrast the salty triple cooked chips, this dish made it hard to stop myself from licking my fingers.
Okay… this is where I will admit I think I sampled more desserts in one sitting than I should have. But life is about living and sometimes you have to allow yourself the indulgence. At least that’s what I tell myself!
Warm Apple Pie, Salted Caramel Sauce, Candied Pecans & Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. I basically don’t need to say anything else aside from that beautiful sentence. Warm & cold, sweet & salty, this is yet again an example of balance that overarches the menu as a whole. Big enough to share with someone special I encourage you to try this dessert even if you aren’t a sweets person.
Though I am not normally a Panna Cotta fan, yet again One Restaurant has me talking about a dish that simply couldn’t be overlooked. The Vanilla Buttermilk Panna Cotta paired with citrus compote, candied mint, crisp meringues, poppy seed tuile & blood orange sorbet is one of the most elegant desserts I have ever seen. Refreshing is not normally a term I would use to describe a dessert but is the perfect description for this dish. Aesthetically it reminds me of a terrarium and tastes just as alive in the combination of flavours. This is probably the most memorable of all the dishes I tried and one that you certainly won’t forget after you try it.
* It should be noted that the above menu items may not be available as pictured & described, and were presented for media purposes. Menus are apt to change and evolve with time and I would encourage you to check the One Restaurant Menu to inspire your next visit.
Secret You Should Know:
Some people don’t understand how Julio & I can operate both as business partners and as a couple. I won’t get into a romantic speech about how I am his biggest fan and he inspires me everyday… but one secret that many people might now realize about Chef de Cuisine Darby Piquette is that he lives a similar life. His girlfriend is actually the Pastry Chef at One Restaurant and together they tackle one of the best kitchens in Toronto under the umbrella of The McEwan Group family of restaurants. I live & breathe the stress of running two of the leading blogs in Canada. I can’t possibly imagine doing what I do in a fine dinning kitchen. It makes me realize how much both of these incredibly talented chefs love what they do and love one another.
I can say with utmost certainty that I could not find a single flaw in my experience at One Restaurant. From the service to the taste, presentation to the atmosphere. I would even go so far as to say that they will remain my favourite restaurant of 2015 based upon a perfect experience. The challenge is on Toronto!
To stay inspired by the culinary creations of One Restaurant, make sure to follow @TheMcEwanGroup of Twitter and Instagram. Use the #OneRestaurant hashtag upon your next visit to join in on the social media conversation. I know that we are all excited to hear which dish is your favourite!
For more behind the scenes of this and other Daniel’s Dish visits, follow my #DoTheDaniel Instagram account.
Please remember to enjoy responsibly and never drink and drive.