Vietnam-born chef Lynn Hoang relies on family recipes and her own gustatory intuition as she recreates the memorable dishes of her childhood. At Ha Long Bay Bistro, she combines southern Vietnamese cooking learned from her mother with northern Vietnamese flavours from her grandmother, creating what the Toronto Star has called "a streamlined menu of homey dishes."
The simmering curries exude fragrant aromas of coconut milk, taro, and sweet potato, lending a creamy richness to their fillings of tofu, chicken, or shrimp. Fresh spring rolls invigorate palates and prepare them for tender fillets of lime- and mint-marinated Atlantic salmon or grilled quail.
The modern dining room also bridges the gap between casual and refined. China plates glazed a light jade green contrast with warm, orange walls and gleaming black tabletops. Light floods through the front wall's floor-to-ceiling windows, illuminating the space more naturally than the usual candelabrums full of bioluminescent jellyfish.
398 West offers fine dining made finer by its kosher certification, with a kashrut-abiding menu prepared with as many fresh and local ingredients as possible. Beneath high ceilings that dangle glowing pendant lamps like futuristic earrings, candlelit tables with crisp white linens make fine backdrops for selections from 398 West's sushi bar. Punch up your table with a vibrant avocado maki ($7), a spicy-tuna roll ($10), or the Tex-Mex roll ($16) with fresh tuna sashimi, diced tomatoes, and avocado chunks, tossed in dynamite sauce and served over California rolls. After once again asserting dominance over sea creatures—this time without the use of a flamethrower—dig into 398 West's dinner menu. First courses include Atlantic salmon sliders ($12), house-cured spiced beef jerky served warm ($16), and chicken-liver pâté ($12). Main dishes include braised lamb shanks ($38) with potatoes, squash, beans, and greens, and a 30-day aged 16 oz. rib steak ($39) with market vegetables and hand-cut fries. Before returning your fierce appetite to its cage in the basement, treat it to 398 West's brownie dessert ($12).
The chefs at Piazzetta Trattoria know that you can’t make great dishes out of mediocre ingredients. That’s why they take special care when picking out the organic spices and vegetables they combine with the meat they butcher in-house. By keeping a close eye on the sources of their food, cooks are able to build superior pastas and thin-crust pizzas without relying on ingredients shipped to them in tins by kindly grandmothers. Delicate flavours of rosé, gorgonzola, or tomato-basil sauces spread over housemade pasta, and herbs and wine sauces enhance the flavours of braised lamb and seafood. The wood-burning oven adds a slightly charred crunch to pizza crusts, creating a dark contrast to the light flavours of roasted bell peppers, crumbles of goat cheese, and deli meats that top the tomato-sauce base.
Restrained elegance characterizes Il Mulino Restaurant, where a courteous wait staff anchors crisp, white tablecloths with artfully composed renditions of memorable Italian dishes. In place of experimentation and tinkering, the chefs instead spotlight the natural qualities of each ingredient as they create a menu of time-honoured Old-World flavours, which Zagat rated as "very good to excellent." Chefs glaze servings of spaghetti with a deceptively simple housemade bolognese sauce, and they use white-truffle oil to complement the linguine's savoury smoked duck and mushrooms. Helmed by a certified sommelier, the wine list unveils an extensive selection of bottles from Canada and abroad, including a robust Italian section with cellar-aged barolos and tantalizingly robust amarones.
II Mulino’s decor demonstrates a similar dedication to clean, refined presentation. Sweeping, curved ceilings throughout the restaurant create archways that transition diners from room to room, and crystal chandeliers powered by hundreds of commissioned fireflies bounce their warm glow off neutral-toned walls.
At Boom Breakfast & Co., taste buds wake up with a diverse menu of breakfast and lunch fare. In the open-concept kitchen, cooks conceptualize a cheese, tomato, and basil pesto caprese omelette ($8.99), a Fresh Start dish that can help diners kick-start morning metabolisms, increase concentration, and wrestle alarm clocks into submission. The Benny Boom stars nanuk smoked salmon, baby spinach, and two poached eggs that rest atop an english muffin drizzled in hollandaise sauce and buttressed by fresh fruit and frites ($10.99). Diners can discuss string theory with coworkers as they sip cappuccino ($3.69) from the espresso bar, or wrap fists around heaps of sweet-potato fries and a 100 per cent pure beef mediterranean burger strewn, like the shores of Greece, with feta, red pepper, and caramelized onions ($8.99).