We’ve talked about the food, and we’ve talked about the views, but how about food with a view? My family’s visit gave us the perfect excuse to visit the tourist sites of Toronto, with the city’s most famous landmark, the CN Tower, at the top of the list. And friends (visiting a few days earlier on their honeymoon) had highly recommended the Tower’s 360 Restaurant – not least because you can avoid the entrance fee by booking dinner there. So as the evening rush hour slowly dissipated 351 metres below us, we enjoyed breath-taking views of Toronto’s islands, skyscrapers, parks and thoroughfares all bathed in brilliant sunlight. The food was excellent too, with an all-Canadian menu from Newfoundland cod to Alberta beef, and local wines taken from the world’s highest cellar. This is the way to see the city!
A week later, as a belated birthday treat from my parents, we headed to floor 54 of the TD Bank Tower on Wellington Street, home of the restaurant Canoe. A favourite among Toronto’s financiers, it offers remarkable views of the city to the west and across Lake Ontario to the south. Executive Chef John Horne serves contemporary Canadian cuisine that reflects each province’s distinctive traditions. The tasting menu was inspired by Montreal’s Expo 67, featuring dishes from across the country – including smoked trout in a nod to its aboriginal heritage, complete with actual smoke – and candy floss to finish with a carnival flourish. We dined a la carte, enjoying risoni risotto and tamarack lamb before a rhubarb and white chocolate mousse and a hazelnut chocolate torte with toasted marshmallow. It was sensational.
More recently, we visited downtown Jump as part of the city’s Summerlicious promotion – a two-week annual celebration during which 200 restaurants across Toronto offer three-course meals for a fraction of their usual price. Jump is in the same family of restaurants as Canoe and similarly beloved among the city’s investors, serving high-quality Canadian fare with inventive cocktails and a range of wines. We followed bruschetta and tuna salad with smoked tofu tostada and Cajun-rubbed beef tri-tip, finishing with a chocolate brownie and Ontario strawberries and cream. Now we’re looking forward to Winterlicious!
One final meal deserves mentioning even though it doesn’t fit with the ‘high dining’ theme – in fact, quite the opposite! With a group of fellow expats we recently visited Lamesa, a Filipino restaurant on Queen Street, for an experience inspired by the tradition of Kamayan or ‘hand to mouth’. On tables decked in banana leaves, the staff arranged an array of delicious sauces, vegetables, rice, salad, meats and fish – all cooked to perfection and to be eaten without cutlery. It was not the most decorous meal we’ve enjoyed, but it was unquestionably tasty. And it serves as a wonderful reminder of Toronto’s cultural diversity: where else can you enjoy such varied culinary experiences, from the top of the CN Tower to the tables of the Philippines?