Marked: What's the deal
For some time, downtown dwellers have been dangled the carrot of a new restaurant in the vacant spot next to Michael's on John Street. But finally, ForthSpace Hospitality Group (Coffee Oysters Champagne) has revitalized a strip that boasts, ahem, Hooters and formerly the Office Pub (R.I.P.) with Marked, a South American restaurant that's firing things up with a wood charcoal grill.
The name refers to the grill marks left on 75 per cent of the menu, and with everything from a whole branzino to flank steak and veggies licked by fire, it's sure to make a mark. Take a peek through the glass at the churrasqueira in action on your way down the runway – we mean corridor – en route to the washrooms.
Spread over four spaces, including the Pan Am Lounge, a sports bar and lounge dedicated to the Pan American spirit of the 1950s, and the moody Corsair cocktail bar in the back that acts as a laboratory for more inventive libations, there are plenty of reasons to check-in to Marked.
Marked: What to drink
The cocktail game is strong at Marked, so we recommend ordering one as soon as you've fastened your seat belts. There are over 20 signature cocktails on offer in the Pan Am Lounge, many of which are inventive (and delicious) twists on a classic. The Yucatán Slam, with prickly pear and jalapeno, is the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. If you want something refreshing (and a little out there), their homemade sodas, which imitate classic flavours like the Paloma or Pina Colada, are clarified with goat and coconut milk for a crystal clear cocktail.
If you're looking for more bells and whistles to wet your, um, whistle, head to Corsair for a nightcap. Their seasonal cocktail series (which serves two) packs a glass vessel full of herbs, botanicals, fruits and spices. Our autumnal offering, packed with cloves, orange and ginger, continued to steep and change in flavour until our last sip. Larger parties looking to imbibe in style can order the Fifth Element, which filters Tanqueray Gin, El Gobernador Pisco, Agua Santa Espadin Mezcal, Lillet Blanc and more fun stuff through a literal science experiment.
Marked: What to eat
Sharing is caring so order a couple of dishes from the pequeño, medio or (if you're famished) grande section of the menu. The octopus tostadas are a two-bite flavour punch while the dates, wrapped lovingly in house bacon, manchego and pickled peppers, were a small but mighty tasty introduction to our meal.
Marked mixes up its ceviche options daily, with a fresh selection of fish, avocado, sweet potato, Peruvian corn and tiger’s milk. The spicy tuna was generously portioned and served with crispy, fried crackers to scoop up all that fresh, zesty goodness.
As you might imagine from a South American spot with a churrasco, there's plenty of meat on offer here. We made light work of the flank steak, which came on a bed of beefsteak tomatoes, drizzled in pistachio chimichurri (order the churrasco oyster mushrooms as a side – you won't regret it). Burgers, empanadas, charcoal-grilled cornish hen and flame-grilled boneless branzino round out the sizeable menu, but robust salads are also available alongside unreal Brussels sprouts cooked in coconut milk for the omnivorous.
Before you depart, fill out one of Marked's retro postcards – the restaurant will mail it anywhere in the world so you can brag about the best thing you ate this summer in lieu of this year's vacation.