Sometimes, the occasion calls for you to indulge in the finer things in life – and what better to splurge on than an unforgettable meal? While Toronto may not officially have any Michelin-star restaurants, there are plenty of worthy spots to wine and dine.
Toronto’s luxury food scene is a multicultural gem of the gastronomic world, but despite the international attention the city receives, none of its restaurants currently hold a Michelin star. Many Michelin-star chefs still flock to the city for work because they see so much talent and opportunities for growth, largely thanks to the city’s growing population and multicultural reputation.
Where else can you find a menu of Nova Scotia lobster, ice creamed PEI eel with sturgeon caviar, and Manitoba bison tenderloin? The city is all about wielding its mastery of multicultural cuisines and harmoniously melding it with ingredients found in the Great North. Here, Culture Trip selects a handful of the best luxury restaurants and dishes in Toronto.
Bar, Restaurant, French, Canadian
Tucked away in a residential building in midtown Toronto, Scaramouche has been serving fine fare for nearly 40 years and is consistently at the top of food lists like Canada’s 100 Best. You’ll taste contemporary Canadian cuisine with ingredients from as far afield as British Columbia and Nova Scotia and everywhere in between. The menu changes seasonally, but signature dishes include sustainably raised caviar piled on top of a buckwheat blini, finished with crème fraîche, shallots, chives and chopped egg. For dessert, try their legendary coconut cream pie, a staple since the restaurant’s inception, which features a butter shell filled with coconut custard whipped cream and an ample dusting of white chocolate shavings.
Voted the number one restaurant in Canada by Canada’s 100 Best, Alo is one of the hardest-to-land reservations in the city. Chef Patrick Kriss’ culinary pedigree includes stints working under Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud at Daniel in NYC, and before opening Alo in 2015, he also worked in the kitchens of Régis Marcon and La Maison Troisgros in France. At Alo he’s known for his avant-garde approach and technical precision. The restaurant is located in an airy loft-like space and perched on the second floor of an unassuming building at the intersection of Queen and Spadina Streets. Expect to be greeted with expert service, artful plating and worldly creations such as buttery foie gras, pan-seared duck breast, Hokkaido sea urchin and Venetian caviar.
Situated in an unassuming and rather drab-looking strip plaza at the west end of the city, you’ll find a Japanese oasis called Sushi Kaji. The quality and precision at Sushi Kaji is comparable to what you’d taste in Tokyo, but fortunately for Canada-bound foodies, you can find it right here in Toronto. The decor is minimal, with the sushi bar and blond wood counter acting as audience seating in front of the sushi chefs. There is no à la carte menu – you simply trust the chef to guide you on your tasting journey.
This elegant restaurant is much more than just a steakhouse. Chef Danny McCallum traverses the globe seeking out the finest cuts of beef, and every cut of steak on the menu comes with an elaborate backstory. Breeds include Angus and Hereford; prime and non-prime; Kobe and Wagyu. If you’re undecided or feeling overwhelmed, you can opt for a blind tasting menu, which offers a range of flavor profiles, tastes and textures. Otherwise you can go super luxe and opt for the seafood tower, which features an ocean’s worth of lobster, raw oysters, mussels, king crab and more.
The Chase feels like you’re dining in a swanky Manhattan penthouse, without any of the pretentiousness. Instead, chef Tyler Shedden, a former protégé of Michelin-star chef Daniel Boulud, offers polished fare with an emphasis on sustainable seafood and plant-based options. Begin your meal with the opulent Diamond Platter, which arrives with tiers of fresh ocean Fogo Island snow crab, Nova Scotia lobster, prawns, oysters and more, and then – if you have any room left – tuck into shareable indulgences; the most popular is the roasted halibut with creamer potatoes in tarragon butter, with toasted brioche crust and finished with a beech mushroom sauce.
At Canoe Restaurant and Bar, located on the 54th floor of the Toronto Dominion Centre building, guests are greeted with panoramic views. In this fine-dining outpost, expect modern interpretations of classic Canadian fare with the use of local meats such as bison and deer. Executive chef John Horne helms the kitchen brigade and seamlessly marries French techniques with inventive and playful Canadian dishes thanks to his work at Michelin-star restaurants such as L’Escargot, The Square and Orrey. Dishes change with the seasons, but some of the most noteworthy include miso-glazed venison tartare with coffee crumbs, black pudding and foie parfait, and Ontario squab paired with beetroot gratin and pine nuts. The wine list showcases the best Canadian producers, with an emphasis on Ontario (Niagara Peninsula) varietals.
Louix Louis is housed inside Canada’s flagship St. Regis Hotel, where the lavish decor is reminiscent of iconic New York and Paris bars from the Belle Époque era. An elaborate mural on the ceiling swirls with metallics and golds, and the grand bar made of imperial marble and sculpted bronze. In terms of culinary prowess, the restaurant offers contemporary American cuisine with French influences, courtesy of executive chef Guillaume Robin. Hailing from France, he brings a wealth of experience, including stints in Michelin-star kitchens across Europe. His culinary creations for Louix Louis are unabashedly decadent and over-the-top – so get ready for a lot of caviar and foie gras.
While Buca now has several outposts in Toronto, the first location was the one on King and Bathurst Street, which opened in 2009. Inside the industrial-style space (once a boiler room), you’re greeted with a minimal decor that blends wood, stone, marble and metals. The simplistic scheme is intentional, allowing the diner to instead focus on the experience and the food. Chef Rob Gentile showcases the best of Italian cuisine – from their ionza (cured pork loin) and salsiccia (spicy calabrese pork sausage), to their bigoli (duck offal ragu and mascarpone) and neri di maiale (pork blood pasta tossed with nduja, rapini and smoked burrata). Make sure to take a look at their wine list, which boasts over 300 labels from all regions of Italy.
Don Alfonso feels as though you’ve just stumbled into a modern art gallery dotted with marble and towering sculptures. The experience is further bolstered with chef Don Alfonso’s deft skills and contemporary Italian dishes, which include unconventional ingredient pairings that will satisfy the most adventurous of foodies. Alongside chef Alfonso, Michelin-star chef Ernesto Iaccarino and executive chef Saverio Macri offer “edible art”, such as ice creamed eel with sturgeon caviar and tagliatelle perfumed with wild rose. The fusion of Canadian and European fare is apparent in their bison dish, which is wrapped in layers of Swiss chard, mozzarella, and encased in a bread crust, then finished with salsa verde, and the wine list is extensive with over 650 labels available.
Toca is led by chef Paul Shewchuk under the guidance of Michelin-star chef Oliver Glowig | Courtesy of Toca
Located on the second floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel, TOCA is under the culinary consultation and guidance of Michelin-star chef Oliver Glowig. Meanwhile, on the ground its executive chef Paul Shewchuk marries seasonal Ontario ingredients with gastronomic homages to Rome, Naples and Capri. You’ll easily pick up on that fusion of flavors in their signature dishes like the lobster caprese with poached tomato compote and buffalo mozzarella, which comes from their very own glass-encased cheese cave (found in the center of the restaurant, no less). The cave frequently hosts tastings and events, with opportunities to try the 10-15 varietals that line the wood shelves. The wine list is also quite over-the-top and highlights nearly 600 producers from all over the world.