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 Kitchen at Brassaii, 461 King Street West (416)-598-8943
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, but King Street West in Toronto has new life blooming and blossoming at every corner. The iconic Toronto Restaurant & Lounge Brassaii is no exception to this revitalization in the food world. I was invited to come by last night with a group of friends and media compatriots alike to taste the new summer menu. Launched under the watchful eye of The Kitchen at Brassaii’s new Executive Chef Marcus Monteiro, the well known Restaurant & Lounge aims to bring a playful and sophisticated menu to the summer months ahead.
For those of you who haven’t been yet (shame on you btw!), the space is nothing short of spectacular. Located at the end of one of King St. West’s iconic alleyways, Brassaii offers something for everyone. An expansive patio to the left of the main entrance for cocktails in the sun, a beautiful lounge with circular booths for nights with friends and a dinning room that is pristine. A restaurant that has earned its reputation in every sense of the word, I feel in love all over again when I walked through the doors.
Recently passed into the hands of Chef Marcus Montero, Brassaii now aims to show its regular brunch and lounge patrons that not only is it a hotspot, but also a culinary contender for the neighbourhood. I had the chance to chat with Chef about what his inspirations were and the whole thought process behind the menu is to offer guests of his restaurant something they aren’t expecting. Classic Mediterranean was once the term used for the menu at Brassaii, but now it has expanded playfully to encompass an almost fusion flare. From start to finish, I was left very happy and I know you will feel the same as well. So let’s get started on my must have items!
From the cocktail menu, thankfully concise and to the point, there are several directions you can take. A great way to start the night would be with a Gin based cocktail such as the Lola 75. Nothing makes me happier then a drink served in a champagne flute to start off a beautiful evening with friends. Wouldn’t you agree? Bitter Beefeater 24 Gin combined with herbacious flavours and a citrus after taste offer both something strong and something flavourful to start off your night. Now to mention fresh garnish and the fact that it goes down like juice, this is definitely a must for me.
I had a lot of fun with the appetizer options on the summer menu and based upon both their taste and seasonal restrictions, I highly recommend you make your way to Brassaii immediately to try them before they are gone forever! My heart was torn between a beautiful Raw Salad and the Popcorn Shrimp. For those of you looking for something light and refreshing to start off your meal, the Raw Salad is the choice for you. Homemade monteiro cheese which melts in your mouth is combined with apricots, kiwi, beets and pickled carrots. Add to this delicious concoction a brûléed orange and you’ve got a refreshing and aesthetically pleasing appetizer. Creamy and acidic, colourful and satisfying, this salad tops my list of summer salads in Toronto for sure.
For those seafood lovers out there, I cannot possibly overlook the Popcorn Shrimp. Not at all what I expected, this dish is a playful interpretation combining grilled shrimp and actual popcorn. Sounds a bit strange, but the flavours match perfectly. Grilled smokiness from the shrimp atop a popcorn puree with whole kernels adorning the plate, you can’t help but smile as you enjoy this dish. Great for sharing amongst friends or enjoying as a light meal option, it’s sinfully delicious.
The star of the show would have to be hands down the Crispy Ribs. After speaking with some of the servers throughout the night, I found out that this item sells out on a regular basis. Guess that means we need to make sure our Brassaii dinner reservations aren’t too late! A full rack of ribs with a crispy crust adorn a beautiful wood plank plate. Served with a mint chutney and a moroccan glaze, you will need to get messy to truly enjoy this dish. I always encourage a bit of messiness over dinner. It means you are enjoying yourself after all! Deemed a sharing appetizer on the menu itself, I would dare to say this is the perfect meatatarian meal for a hot summer night. Alongside some fresh side options on the menu, you’ve got yourself a meal you’ll be talking about for days. Sweet, Salty and truly unique, this dish left me wanting more. A sign of a truly well crafted menu item.
I was absolutely blown away by the fact that I read dessert was going to be a Soufflé. Traditionally French, this boulangerie inspired dessert is both time consuming to make and takes an excellent pastry chef to ensure it is executed properly. I was not left disappointed by any means. Combining a rhubarb-buttermilk soufflé atop a crispy coconut tart, alongside pineapple vanilla compte and ginger ice cream… I mean… Really? Could you embody tropical summer flavours anymore? Light and refreshing, this dessert is by far one of the most skilfully crafted sweets I have had the pleasure to try in Toronto to date. And I’ve tried a lot of desserts. A must for those of you who love dessert and for those of you who don’t alike. I forbid you to not try this on your next visit. And as mentioned, since many of the menu items are seasonal, there’s no time like the present to make your reservations at Brassaii today!
Secret You Should Know:
I am always a believer that making a difference in the life of one person can change the world for the better. One of the best Daniel’s Dish secrets comes to you straight from The Kitchen at Brassaii. The restaurant itself partners with Covenant House for an internship program that supports homeless youth. They provide them the tools, skills and training to kick start a culinary career and get them doing something they love. I genuinely can say that a program like this not only creates some of the best food I have enjoyed in a long time, but also helps to foster growth for those in need. A restaurant is a chaotic place to work and can sometimes be intimidating, but to take on a program of this calibre truly sets The Kitchen at Brassaii apart.
Fun and flirty, playful and fresh, the summer menu at Brassaii truly embodies the new chef, the new menu and the new life brought into The Kitchen at Brassaii. I recommend you head down to King ST. West as soon as possible to experience this all for yourself.
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