What's the draw?
Alright, so it's not exactly new, but we were across the Atlantic when Patrick Kriss opened the doors to Alo this summer and we've been dying to try it ever since. Expect fine-dining in a non-stuffy environment (think minimal table settings, soft hip hop sounds and incredibly friendly staff). Alo's (derived from the Latin term meaning to nourish) whole ethos is to 'make every guest feel at home' and they do this while serving up a classic (but fun) French menu in a modern third-floor space at the corner of Queen and Spadina. It's an meal where every detail seems to be thought out, and if Toronto were covered by the Michelin Guide, we have a feeling these guys would be one of the first in line.
What to drink:
Bar Manager, John Bunner (of Byblos) mixes up classic cocktails (including the Vodka Fix - a mix of vodka, bramble, lemon and cilantro) along with some of his own bottled mixes behind the long brass bar. There's a special snacks menu designed for the bar, a great option for guests short on time to experience the restaurant without forking over the two plus hours on the tasting menu. As you'd expect, the small but carefully selected wine list, focuses on old world options designed to be paired with the tasting menu (although there are many available by the glass).
What to eat:
While tasting menus can sometimes be rigid and limiting, you don't feel this here. They offer guests two options per course along with bountiful surprises along the way. You'll definitely need some serious time to get through it all (it ends up essentially being seven-courses) but we weren't complaining. The Burgundy Snails and Quebec Foie Gras kick things off followed by a flurry of tuna, Madai (Japanese Sea Bream) and veal sweetbreads. Desserts are changed constantly but we were treated to a dark chocolate, Tonka bean and pear tart, a lovely mix of sweet and tart. Dishes are thoughtfully explained, and the dedicated Sommelier Anjana Viswanatha is on hand to guide you through the wine pairings (available for an extra $65). Alo is an investment, both in your time and wallet, but in our opinion, worth both.
163 Spadina Ave, 416-260-2222, alorestaurant.com