AP restaurant, Toronto: What's the vibe
The Michelin Guide had already doled out its coveted stars when AP quietly opened its doors, err, elevator, last fall. But if it were up to me, I’d be awarding this restaurant with all the culinary accolades — it's one of the best restaurants in the city.
AP comes as a collaboration between celebrated Montreal chef Antonio Park and restaurant heavyweight Scale Hospitality (Toronto Beach Club, Byblos, Shook, Lapinou, Pink Sky), and the expertise that went into creating this venture sure shows.
Set on the 51st floor of the Manulife Centre, the atmosphere alone could draw crowds. The sultry space is outfitted with black marble tables and cushy, floral-patterned chairs and banquettes, while parasols float overhead, decorating the ceiling. The dim lighting allows guests to fully appreciate the large windows lining both sides of the restaurant, providing a sparkling view of the city’s twinkling lights from high above.
It’s romantic, intimate and comfortable, while still feeling like a big night out. If you’re in need of a very special date night, this is the place.
AP restaurant, Toronto: What's on the menu
The menu here is a reflection of chef Park’s international background and his culinary training. Some of the dishes may skew pan-Asian and you’ll catch Park’s signature Latin influence, but it’s not fusion — it’s Japanese cuisine done with exceptional creativity and exceeding complexity. Dishes range from familiar favourites like gyoza and maki rolls to show-stopping mains like lemongrass lamb chops and wagyu steak.
One stand-out dish from the evening was the delicate bluefin tuna tataki that came swimming in a ginger emulsion so delicious, I had to hold myself back from using my finger like a squeegee to scoop up every last drop.
Full of flavour, yet not overpowering, the sauces at AP are the real showstoppers. Fresh raw seafood and meat appear on many Toronto menus, but here they’re married with sauces to create truly swoon-worthy and unparalleled flavour combinations.
The tender wagyu tataki gets the star treatment with a savoury truffle ponzu. Meanwhile plump and tender scallops glisten in brown butter and tom yum sauce.
If you’ve ever wanted to try an omakase menu, you can get a small taste of it here with the omakase nigiri. The daily chef selection features eight beautifully sliced pieces of fish, which might include deliciously fatty tuna belly, hamachi and salmon, all laid over rice. A few of the pieces are enhanced with AP’s delectable sauces, either drizzled on top or tucked between the fish and rice, adding tangy and savoury flavours while still honouring the freshness of the fish.
The "exotic pavlova," a tapioca coconut pudding topped with white chocolate chantilly, mango sorbet, pineapple and passionfruit was a sweet and delicious exploration into texture and layered flavours. It was the perfect way to end the night.
AP restaurant, Toronto: What's on the drink menu
Wine and beer make an appearance, but you’d be remiss not to try some sake from their delightfully extensive list. For those who know exactly what they like, or for the uninitiated who need some guidance, the sake menu is conveniently sectioned by flavour profile: delicate and refreshing, fruity and floral, savoury and complex. There’s even a whole section of sparkling sake if you’re feeling fancy.
Cocktails here are as complex as the dishes, full of layers and intricacy. The Kemuri comes garnished with a skewered cherry that drips flavour into the cocktail. For a fruitier, more refreshing serve, the Wasaga Swizzle is full of the bright flavours of watermelon, apricot and chai. Each one is unique and inimitable, and pairs well with Park's drool-worthy menu.
Dinner and drinks for two: around $200 before tax and tip
AP, 55 Bloor St. W., 51st Floor; aprestaurants.com