Restaurant review: MARBL

Come for the elevated American bistro-style cuisine, stay for a wine list you won't find anywhere else in Toronto, let alone King West.

What's the vibe:

Whether you've visited its predecessor, Fring's, or you've never set foot in this King West space, you won't recognize much at MARBL. "Normally, when you open a restaurant, you're looking for things you can save, but we stripped everything except the kitchen exhaust fan," says owner Peter Girges, who is back in his hometown after many years spent running restaurants in Vancouver (West Oak, Pierre’s Lounge).

The result is a beautiful banquette and chandelier-filled restaurant that brings two friends – Girges and chef Ryan Morrison have known each other for 13 years – together for their first project. Grab a spot in one of the booths or specify a chef's table seat when booking for some front-of-house cooking action.

While there are a few TV screens showing sport, the vibe here is fancier than your average spot. The eponymous marble tabletops, glass-encased wine cellar and high ceilings separate it from the rest of the restaurants on the strip. MARBL is still King West – but this is an older, (much) cooler version that knows her wines and isn't afraid to drink them.

The restaurant is open until late, but if you want a nightcap, head to the downstairs champagne lounge, Mademoiselle (don't miss the Moët vending machine).

What to drink:

Mik Piltz, MARBL's sommelier, "took a risk with this wine programme," but the payoff is clear to see. Not a single bottle on the menu can be purchased at the LCBO, making the restaurant a wine destination in its own right. Piltz has curated a list of natural, organic and biodynamic wines that were all "made in the old way" with minimal intervention. The result is an imported selection of small-batch (the smallest being the Timaeus from Australia, which yielded only 1320 bottles) and often unfiltered wine; try the cloudy Luna and Gaia 2016 which looks more like cider than the vino we're used to drinking.

If you're not an oenophile, bar manager Cassaundra Inder is on hand to serve up a small but mighty selection of cocktails. The Kōjin alum has created a Bogota Old Fashioned which infuses the bourbon with Colombian corn that's been cooked in the oven for an earthy, toasty twist on the classic. "Just Friends" is another not to be missed; sake cocktails may be a rarity outside of Japanese restaurants, but this grapefruit, cucumber and absinthe blend is a very lateral move for gin-drinkers looking for a bevvy with some bite. The cocktail menu will stay until spring when Inder will curate a new set of drinks.

What to eat:

New York's loss is Toronto's gain, as Ryan Morrison (Scarpetta) makes his Canadian homecoming at MARBL. The chef confesses to using his American cuisine background as a jumping off point for the food here; broccoli and cheese made with aged cheddar is the elevated childhood favourite you didn't know you needed (but, oh, how you needed it).

For a fairly meat-forward menu, our favourite dish was actually the beets starter, a refreshingly light dish made with whipped goats cheese, pistachio, and pomegranate molasses. Although, the beef tartar – seasoned to perfection – was a very close second on the hors d'oeuvre front.

Bring your appetite; we ordered a truly enormous plate of the veal "chop" parm, a bone-in veal cutlet, and the 12 oz pork chop, which comes with pork belly attached and charred beans in a mustard seed crust. If that's still not enough meat for you, MARBL serves a sharing platter which includes a 48 oz tomahawk steak, rack of lamb, prawns, seared scallops and veggies ($325).

Dinner and drinks for two; around $140.

455 King St. W, 416-979-2660;