Toronto is a city with vast amounts of diversity. That extends beyond the locals, right through to the dining scene too. Many chefs from far and wide are making the move to Toronto, to expand the cities culinary scene. Bringing with them years of experience and finesse, to produce some of the best restaurants and dishes that Toronto has seen.
When I was in Toronto, it was my mission to find the top three best fine dining restaurants out there. Picking the top three was hard, but they made the cut because they are simply Toronto’s hottest fine dining restaurants. Get ready for all the spice and flavour, as won’t want to miss these stunning dining spots.
1. La Palma, Toronto
Think of an Italian cafe having a love child with a sexy, sleek Beverly Hills Restaurant, and you have La Palma. This beautiful spot is from the creation of chef Craig Harding with his wife, who designed the interiors – talk about power couple.
They bring a unique concept to the Dundas area of Toronto, with cafe-style hop on, hop off bar seating, mixed with sit down dining with marble top tables and soft cream booths. The tables are adjacent to each other, creating this community dining feel, with enough space to not feel like your personal space is being invaded.
La Palma welcomes everyone. If you’re a single diner, or a big group, just popping in for a coffee or having post-work cocktails with a friend. La Palma has it all and welcomes you with a warm smile.
When I dined at La Palma, I was completely blown away. The food, the service, the atmosphere, the ambience, it is all perfect. I almost forgot I was in Toronto for a moment, with six inches of snow outside. But, instead, out by the coast on Venice Beach in LA. Dreamy.
The wine menu was extensive, with a range of sparking wines, through to the full-bodied reds. I ordered a glass of Beausoleil rosé, which had was fresh and soft with strawberry and raspberry notes. Can you tell I thought I was in a hot country? As I normally drink rosé when it’s hot outside.
The menu itself is comprised of small plates that can be eaten as individual dishes or can be shared with friends or loved ones. Zoe and I were quite set on the dishes we wanted before we even arrived (we were very excited to try La Palma), so we went ahead with our choices.
We jumped straight into the mains as we visited for lunch. Zoe ordered the famous 100 layer lasagna. Yep, you read that correctly. Smothered with delicious, rich bolognese and filled with soft, creamy mozzarella. Before chargrilling the top to give it an extra bite, before the soft layer of pasta skims your tastebuds. Di-vine.
I, on the other hand, went for the succulent lamb chops, which were seasoned to perfection. I love the contrast of spice meeting something milder. In this case, it was a light tahini yoghurt, with a preserved lemon and dill “salsa”, garnished with a few coriander leaves. To accompany my chops, I ordered chilli and garlic tender-stem broccoli, which is one of my favourite vegetables.
Zoe and I were in food heaven. Each morsel, every mouthful was sheer delight. Especially when washed down with liquid gold, I mean wine.
The service was second to none. Extremely attentive, and service was provided with genuine pleasure, which made the whole experience more enjoyable.
I would definitely recommend La Palma to anyone who has a fantastic spot to dine for lunch or dinner when in Toronto.
2. Toca, Ritz Carlton Toronto
When you research the best places to eat in Toronto, and Toca comes as one of the top few on various blogs, websites and digital newspaper articles, you know you have to visit. I’m a huge fan of the Ritz-Carlton hotel brand, and with their five-star reputation, comes fantastic, no-fuss fine dining.
Think half-moon booths, dim lighting, candles lit at each table, with glass walls surrounding and an exceptional selection of gourmet cheeses. It’s the perfect date night spot, or ideal to dine with friends or family too.
The cuisine at TOCA is Italian, with Chef Oliver Glowig bringing his finest piece of Italy to Toronto. His creations are truly special, and the flavours he pairs in his food are nothing like I’ve ever tried before. Using local produce, he manages to get the best flavours and textures into each of his dishes on the menu.
We enjoyed some yellow label Veuve Clicquot to accompany our meal, which worked perfectly with all the dishes we chose.
The variety of dishes available on this menu is fantastic, but it also makes choosing a starter, main and dessert very difficult.
We finally decided on our starters. As i’m a huge pasta fan and was completely sold on the Signature Ravioli ‘Capresi’, which was homemade ravioli stuffed with caciotta cheese served in a ripe tomato sauce and garnished with marjoram. Zoe couldn’t resist the pasta dish either, so we doubled up and went for the same dish.
For our mains, I ordered the Pollo Ruspante” which was organic chicken cooked in well-seasoned batter, served with polenta chips, pepperonata and pickled mustard seeds.
Zoe ordered the “Agnello” which was pan-seared Ontario rack of lamb served with confit lamb shoulder, chicory, shallots and black garlic. The lovely aroma from Zoe’s Agnello was stunning. The lamb was cooked medium, with a perfectly slow cooked lamb shoulder.
Zoe and I were both so full, but we’re both suckers for Italian desserts too. I have a huge weakness for tiramisu, and I knew it would be a dessert on the menu. I have to admit, the tiramisu was insanely creamiest, light, delicate, mouthwatering. It was exactly what I craved.
In true Ritz-Carlton style, the chef sent out an extra dessert, because he wanted to share a little extra of his sweet treats with us that evening. The perfect way to wrap up a delectable dinner.
The Ritz-Carlton hotel group never fail to show true hospitality, whether it’s through their hotels or their dining outlets. It’s always great to know you will be well looked after, where ever in the world you are. TOCA is a huge credit to the brand itself.
Read my full review here.
3. Canoe Restaurant
There is nothing I love more than dining at height, in new cities around the world. Canoe restaurant brought that reality for me in Toronto, from the 54th floor, overlooking the hustle and bustle of the city. If you’re anything like me, you better reach out for your best glad rags, you’re in for a treat.
Canoe is a modern contemporary restaurant showcasing the best of the Canadian cuisine, where ingredients are sourced from local organic producers, making the most of Canada’s raw, rich land.
The dress code naturally matches the restaurant’s fine dining appeal, with ladies turned out in gorgeous dresses and gents in suits or smart shirts and trousers. This is what the whole fine dining experience is about after all.
We kicked things off with a glass of bubbles, whilst we admired the stunning view of Toronto Island. It is incredible how beautiful one city can be. Especially reminded me of London, which made it extra special as I’ve always considered Canada to be my home away from home.
I started with the winter salad, which was made with sauvagine mousse, hazelnut barley crumb, roasted baby carrots, crispy sage finished with a mulled wine vinaigrette and a date and coffee purée. I absolutely loved all the different textures and flavours that came through in this dish. In line with its name, it was a rather “warming” salad, which made it an ideal, light starter to enjoy.
For our mains, Zoe and I both ordered the special for the night, Wellington beef, served with a red wine jus, baby shallots and crispy greens and roasted turnip. The meat was cooked to perfection, and all the flavours came together beautifully.
To finish, Zoe ordered the decadent screeched tarte au sucre, a famous dessert originating from Quebec. It is a sweet and buttery, pie made with yeast dough. The tarte was served with wintergreen Chantilly cream and brown buttermilk sauce.
I couldn’t resist the dessert of the day, which was a light choux pastry, filled with vanilla cream, on a bed of apricot syrup. I’m a huge fan of French style pastries, but they can be a bit of hit and miss at times. However, to my delight it was made perfectly and was a faultless way to end the meal.
Have you ever visited any of my top three recommendations?
Until next time…