When the international community thinks of the Canadian culinary scene, there are probably a few dishes that come to mind, and those dishes are being served on a table covered by a red flannel tablecloth – with a bottle of maple syrup set out instead of salt and pepper shakers.
Any local will tell you that it’s not all poutine and peameal bacon in the Great White North: Canada’s food culture is diverse, innovative and worthy of international recognition. That’s why it comes as no surprise that French foodie authority Michelin announced this past spring that their renowned Michelin Guide is coming to Toronto.
“A new chapter begins in Toronto, which features global eats and charming cafes as well as high-end dining experiences. It’s a city where top chefs want to establish a presence and where emerging chefs nurture their culinary talent – both drawing on locally produced ingredients unique to Ontario,” Michelin said on their website.
While Toronto may not have any Michelin Star restaurants yet, some products of the city – like MasterChef Canada judge Chef Alvin Leung – nurtured their crafts here before going on to own Michelin Star-holding restaurants elsewhere. There are also Michelin Star chefs who have opened restaurants in Toronto, like Chef Daniel Boulud of the Four Seasons’ Cafe Boulud.
Michelin Star inspectors will be anonymously sampling the city’s many menus over the next few months, so it’s safe to say local restauranteurs will be on their toes for the summer season. The list of Toronto’s Michelin star restaurants will be announced in the fall. Bonne chance, chefs!
1. The up-and-comers
For up-and-coming fine dining establishments, the power of intrigue can’t be understated. The team behind the recently opened MIMI Chinese – sister restaurant to the wildly successful Sunny’s Chinese takeout pop-up – have mastered the combination of delicious food and mystique.
Keith Siu, Braden Chong and David Schwartz initially set out to open up their long-planned restaurant MIMI Chinese, but put those plans on hold due to Covid. Their pivot to open Sunny’s Chinese takeout pop-up in 2021 was a happy accident for foodies looking to try coconut-filled bao or twice cooked pork. MIMI Chinese is now up and running, and Sunny’s Chinese is opening a bricks-and-mortar location soon. Frankly, we wouldn’t be surprised if Michelin decides to award both restaurants with a couple of stars each.
265 Davenport Road, Toronto
(416) 505-0799 mimichinese.com
2. The innovator
Trevor Lui – Trevor “Cheuk Fan” Li, according to his IG – is on a mission that goes beyond his famous fried chicken. He not only has delightful takeaway restaurant Joybird, but he’s also the co-creator of Quell, a talent agency for BIPOC food personalities.
You can try your hand at one of his signature dishes with a recipe from his new cookbook, like this Taiwanese Crispy Fried Chicken, but if you want the full immersive experience there’s only one place to go. Superfresh Food Hall opened in May and reflects Lui’s innovative approach to dining and the experience of dining. Inspired by an Asian night market, the low neon lighting and enticing aromas will lure you in from Bloor Street – but they’re just a preview of the gastronomic journey waiting inside.
384 Bloor Street West, Toronto
3. The icon
First opened in 1980, Scaramouche is a Toronto institution: the combination of fine French food and skyline views from midtown remains hard to beat.
Chef Keith Frogett is a familiar name for the city’s foodies and he’s still one to watch: his new restaurant in Orangeville, Greystone’s, offers a more rustic (but just as delicious) fine dining experience. For sophisticated urban eats, though, Scaramouche sets the standard. Their awards shelf is pretty crowded already – they’ve been given accolades by everyone from Canada’s 100 Best to TripAdvisor international.
Belly up to the regular bar for a Scaramouche Reverie Bellini, or dine at the Pasta Bar for a plate of their fresh house-made fettucine. Can’t make it to dine-in? Order one of their iconic coconut cream pies online.
One Benvenuto Place, Toronto
(416) 961-8011 scaramoucherestaurant.com
4. The French flirt
“In France, being Pompette means to be in a blissful state. It is the overwhelming moment one feels when immersed in the pleasures of the senses,” according to Martine Bauer, Jonathan Bauer and Maxime Hoerth.
The trio own Pompette (‘tipsy’ in French) on College Street, and say in their web description that their goal is to create food and drinks that represent “the union of French tradition with the innovation of new world ‘’Torontonian Fare.’” We couldn’t think of a more Michelin-minded approach for Pompette.
Their food is as beautiful as it is tasty: signature feed-worthy dishes include their leeks with cured egg yolks and mustard seed vinaigrette, as well as the Ontario-sourced sweetbreads in a Jura wine sauce. Save room for a flambée dessert.