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Restaurant review: Frilu, Thornhill

Frilu challenges the idea that fine dining only works downtown – we find out what makes it worth the trip to Thornhill.

In a nutshell

Thornhill might not seem like the perfect home for a Norwegian-concept, contemporary Canadian restaurant with Japanese influences, but that’s exactly what you’ll get if you head to an unassuming retail strip just north of Finch station. Laid-back decor complete with Henrik Ibsen quotes, and a poetic menu with courses entitled “brisk afternoon walk” and “when the hen dances with the salmon,” marry perfectly with Frilu’s Scandinavian ethos.

What’s on the menu

While a few bar snacks are available, the tasting menu ($95) is what makes this trek worth the multiple Presto taps. Seasonality is king, and at the time of our visit the fall menu was in full swing. Two of Tutti Matti’s alumni have graduated north, diversifying from Tuscan fare to Asian inspiration with ingredients like shima aji and maitake mushrooms. Chef John-Vincent Troiano puts his Noma training to good use while front-of-house manager Kelli Ewing has curated a delightful alcoholic pairing flight ($65), which provides a great introduction to sake in addition to wine. Designated drivers can opt for non-alcoholic pairings ($35) of elixirs and tea.

Why it’s worth the trip

Few places in Toronto serve an eight to 10-course tasting menu for under $100, let alone one as skillfully selected as this seasonal ode to fine dining. Factor in the warm atmosphere and some deliciously curveball pairings like Portuguese Madeira wine, and Frilu might need to consider a shuttle for downtowners.

Dinner and drinks for two: around $320

7713 Yonge St., Thornhill, (289) 597-8867; frilurestaurant.com

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