Get fancy on a budget with this tasting menu on the Danforth

Treat your tastebuds and save your pennies at this Danforth destination for Mediterranean tasting menu bites.

Azura: The vibe

Tasting menu destinations are usually some of the best places to eat in Toronto (and frequently make their way onto the Michelin Guide). However, they're rarely budget-friendly. Azura, a new spot on the Danforth, hopes to offer some bang for your buck with delicious tasting menus starting at $78 and serving up to seven courses.

Azura on the Danforth | The dining room at tasting menu spot Azura

Azura hasn't wholly deviated from her origins. Previously, the space was home to Judaline, another fine-dining menu in the Greektown neighbourhood. Also behind the previous concept, Azura co-owner Joshua Mott (Her Father's Cider Bar) has kept the clean, exposed brick walls design and green banquettes but created a tighter menu with executive chef Adam Ryan, now exclusively offering tasting menus.

A spread of tasting menu bites at Azura on the Danforth

Some touches, like Mediterranean pottery decor, lighting upgrades, and an open kitchen, have enhanced the space. The overall feel is one of a polished dining room where eating is a serious (and tasty) business. In warmer weather, the floor-to-ceiling windows will be opened for a sunshine-soaked meal.

Azura: The menu

Chef Adam Ryan changes the menu so often that you'll never see the same tasting menu twice. However, you can expect exquisitely presented Mediterranean bites with ingredients hailing from places like Türkiye and North America. For $128, you can experience the complete eight to 10 courses, but if your appetite or wallet can't stretch to that, there's a four- to six-course option for $78. 

Signature dishes appear regularly, like the chickpea fritter squares topped with black pearls of sturgeon caviar and Greek mullet roe. Tomato tartlets are filled with tomatoes coiled in the shape of a rose and served in a beautiful earthenware dish. Ibérico pork secreto has been popping up on Toronto menus lately, and you may get lucky and find it here, too. The rich demi-glace and bright pops of citrus garnish make for a delicious course. 

Dessert constitutes two courses when I visit. The first is a Fig Newton's glow-up, which sees the vibrant fruit balanced on top of an olive oil cake sandwiched around a layer of fig jam. Bizarrely, this is not the strangest dessert on the menu. The truly mind-melding pièce de résistance of the tasting menu looks like a mortadella cracker but is, in fact, cuts of chocolate and pistachio "meat" drizzled with balsamic vinegar and powdered pork fat.  

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Azura: The drinks

Wine pairings are par for the course in the land of the tasting menu, but Azura also offers cocktail accompaniments. Expect a mix of riffs on sours and more alcohol-heavy brown spirits with in-house infusions, all of which imbue a Mediterranean flair (olive oil, apricot brandy) to the tipples. Azura takes pride in its non-alcoholic offerings, so those not imbibing enjoy some of the most experimental cocktails on the menu.

Wine is also available, naturally, but you won't see as many Old World sips as usual. Here, unlikely candidates like Greece and Croatia find their way onto the list. It might be a blind-tasting menu, but Azura takes you by the hand and never lets you feel like you're in the dark. 

The Gourmet Chef's Tasting Menu is $128 for 10 courses. The Condensed Chef's Tasting Menu (4-7 courses) is $78 per person. Both prices are before tax and tip.