What's the vibe:
If you headed to Bayview Village (at Sheppard and Bayview) a few years ago you were probably looking for new sneakers and not a memorable dinner. But Goa Indian Farm Kitchen is the latest in a succession of great restaurants outfitting the retail space and making North York a hub for foodies and locals alike.
Joining Parcheggio and Pusateri's, Hemant Bhagwani (the Kolkata Club, Amanya Express) brings Indian fine dining with a spicy Goan angle to this casual spot just inside the doors of the shopping centre.
With striking red walls and chandeliers dotted above the tables and booths, the mood certainly isn't mall inside Goa Indian Farm Kitchen. Bhagwani admits that he had reservations about opening a spot here – but one look at the busy restaurant and the diversity of colourful dishes being happily devoured by customers indicates a smart move for the Indian chef and cookbook author.
What to drink:
The cocktail selection includes the usual suspects but plenty also feature a Goan twist. Their mojito comes with the addition of green mango while the Goan Mule mixes turmeric infused vodka, ginger juice, kumquat and murabba, a sweet preserve native to South Asia. The vegan lassi, with coconut yoghurt, mango, cardamom powder and pistachios, is a great option for non-drinkers (and downright delicious even if you do imbibe.)
Beer is present here (because what curry isn't vastly improved after being washed down with a cold one?) too – choose from Goa Blonde Lager or local options like Muskoka "Mad Tom". Red, white and sparkling wine is available by the glass with Niagara, France, New Zealand and California represented.
What to eat:
Despite the complex flavours of Goan cuisine, Toronto has a fairly small roster to offer diners within the downtown core. While visiting Goa in western India for his cookbook, Bhagwani noticed how the flavours not only reflected its Portuguese colonial roots, but also those of the tourists frequenting the area. With influence from unusual cuisines like Russia, the chef saw that he had an opportunity to do something exciting back in Canada.
The completely addictive sriracha chili cauliflower is reminiscent of spicy Korean chicken wings, glazed in sambal and sprinkled with scallions and sesame seeds. Once your appetite is piqued, move onto the Goan seafood curry with shrimp, tilapia and mussels, or the 72-hour grass-fed beef short ribs.
Don't forget to save room for one of the many great desserts, like "Chef Anwar's Tiramisu" with dark chocolate and caramelized grape nuts, or the corn pavlova with pickled blackberries, bay-leaf meringue and buttered popcorn kulfi (a frozen dairy dessert).
Dinner and drinks for two; around $120
2901 Bayview Ave, North York, 647-352-1661; goatoronto.ca