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. 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!
The Forth, 629 Danforth Ave (416)-465-2629
When most people stop to think about the food culture of Toronto, unfortunately they immediately assume that any fine dining establishment worth visiting will be in the city core. Though there are some of the best restaurants in the world in downtown Toronto (which I have been blessed to write about in this column), many might be shocked to know the options that lay both east and west of the “traditional” Toronto food scene. Julio would be the first to admit that anything east of Jarvis Street in Toronto is “too far” for him, and many Torontonians feel the same. I am always inspired by the neighbourhoods and cultures that Toronto holds all in one beautiful city. So tourists and Torontonians alike, it’s time to throw away your travel bubble comfort zone and get exploring! For the sake of your sanity and your taste buds.
Located in the east neighbourhood of The Danforth, let me tell you all about one of the newest additions to the Toronto food culture. The Forth is located in the smack middle of what is commonly known as Greek town with some of the best Greek food, shops and stores in the city. So I was quite shocked to learn that it itself was not Greek food when invited to join for a media dinner to showcase the space and the menu. Ideally described as Canadian cuisine, I would go so far as to say its menu offers fusion of various styles including Canadian, Mediterranean, French and a few others for good measure. When I stop to think about that though, I smile and realize that in fact that is truly Canadian. A balance of cultures and flavours from around the world in one harmonious and beautiful place.
The space itself is expansive and is divided into three beautiful floors. As you enter into the space you are greeted with chandeliers and white marble which immediately let you know the calibre of this fine dinning destination. The interesting fact is that the space was in fact used for residential condos prior to a remodel and as you ride up the elevator, you can’t help but feel as though you are on the way to visit friends. Upon arrival to the third floor a full length marble top bar with metal and black accents greets you. The space itself is quite dramatic in its decor and you can tell that every detail was carefully looked over to represent the grandios space and atmosphere.
The staff behind the bar work in black vests and ties in an old school feeling that reminds me of what a cocktail bar and lounge should be. With diner service tables set into the back of the room, a balcony looks down onto the main dining room and black & white photos of Torontos past are projected onto the wall. The feeling itself is a modern take on old world beauty and I loved it. White, black and greys help to maintain the colour palette and give the space a unifying decor. With two floors and a beautiful cocktail & dinner menu, I have no doubt that Chef Chris Kalisperas has created a new Toronto hotspot with his new restaurant.
“A breath of fresh air on the Danforth. The Forth celebrates Canadian cusisine, local wines, craft cocktails, modern decor and seamless dining experiences. An upscale restaurant, bar and lounge, Pape & Danforth’s new addition strikes a harmonious balance betwen sophistication and comfort, quality and affordability, glamour and playfullness.”
So let me tell you what items I enjoyed the most and you must try on the menu. I will say this to the food experience you will enjoy at The Forth. Being that the restaurant is still relatively young (it officially opened two weeks ago), there is of course room for growth. I have never been to a restaurant this young that didn’t learn and grow as the days and nights progressed. By no means was I disappointed by my experience as I sat and enjoyed a meal with great friends, but there is always room to improve. If I could make one recommendation it would be that the food requires more seasoning to help compliment and enhance the dishes. You’ve read it in previous Daniel’s Dish columns and I’m sure you will read it again. A new menu calls for a bit of a reserved first attempt because it is easy to add seasoning and impossible to remove it. I truly did enjoy the dishes I will speak about below but am always honest with my readers. If the only criticism I can speak to in a fine dinning restaurant such as The Forth is the need for seasoning, you can rest assured that you’re in for a treat at this fine dinning location.
The cocktail menu. The dreaded topic of any Daniel’s Dish it seems these days. I would normally rant and rave about the length of a list and the necessity for simplicity in having a few quality drinks over an encyclopedia of so so cocktails. The Forth delivered in its cocktail menu options and they even kept it to a page for me. For that alone, I was happy and content to try something adventurous and inspired by their creative bar staff. Of the options available I would have to say my favourite was The Botanist. A summery martini combining gin, kiwi and refreshing fruit flavours. The presentation alone was impressive as slivers of kiwi are placed in a chilled martini glass before being served to you. Traditionally you would have a gin cocktail served with some sort of citrus. By adding a tropical fruit component this cocktail is both great for ladies night at The Forth lounge bar or drinks with your buddies thanks to its boozy gin flavours. A win win situation in my books and the must try cocktail for you on your next visit.
The menu itself is one page and I was immediately in simplicity heaven for the sake of not needing 20 minutes to make a choice. No one likes that person at a restaurant. It progresses from small snacks to appetizers, main courses to dinner for two. The appetizer I would have to recommend would be The Steak Tartare. One of my favourite appetizers ever, this dish had its heyday in the late 80’s and early 90’s. You will see it making its appearance on restaurant menus across the country thanks to the accessibility to quality beef and skilled chefs. Not only is the dish beautifully presented but it also offers that fusion I keep making reference to. Combining flavours of hand cut beef tenderloin, salty potato chips, deviled egg, capers & parmigiano cheese this appetizer is great for sharing with a glass of bubbly or delicious cocktail. Clean and crisp with the saltiness it needs to cut through the fats of the meat, this dish made me genuinely happy and will do the same for you.
Of the classic five options available on the Mains menu, I was immediately drawn to The Scallop. Both out of intrigue and love for seafood, this dish left me content and happy that the Chef & his staff didn’t over complicate something so delicate. Combining artichoke, potato, spinach, lardo, ramps & almond with a beautiful bright yellow butter sauce, this dish enhances the soft flavours and textures of a scallop. Traditionally overcooked in the majority of restaurants I have enjoyed scallops in, they were seared to perfection and truly left me wanting more. That is a sign of a good main course!
Now I will have to be honest and say that I strayed from the traditional sweet option to finish my meal at The Forth. Opting to go with the selection of cheese, I was presented with three beautifully selected cheeses of the seasonal six available. Garnished with home made compotes and salty breads, this is the most european way of finishing a meal and fondly reminded me of my French heritage. Pair it with a heavy glass of red wine and you’ve got one fantastic way to end a lovely meal in the east end of the city.
Alternatively, Julio chose to enjoy The Maple & Almond which was comprised of several dessert delicacies. Brown butter, passionfruit & buttermilk flavours adorned the plate in a beautiful trifecta of sweets that could be enjoyed after a romantic meal. But be warned, it was so delicious that I wouldn’t blame that special someone in your life for not wanting to share it with you. Both options were fantastic and ended the evening on a perfect note. Can’t choose? Spoil yourself and get both for a table of friends and enjoy the best of both worlds.
Secret You Should Know:
The summer time calls for patios and beautiful evenings in the sun. So let me be the first to tell you that a rooftop patio with skyline views is in the works to open late August for us all to enjoy. Not only is the interior of this east end fine dining restaurant beautiful, I can’t wait to see what they create for an exterior space. Stay tune to their social media channels (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram) to keep up to date on the progress and their amazing menu items.
All in all I was surprised by the calibre of fine dinning finesse in the east of the city and for those of you living in the city core, I would recommend the commute. Not only it is worth it, but I’m excited to see what The Forth has in store for the beautiful summer ahead as they grown and evolve to be one of Toronto’s hot spots. You heard it hear first (well, one of the first), but I can guarantee it won’t be the last you hear of this east end Canadian establishment.
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