Let the Four Seasons concierge tell you where to eat and drink in Toronto
Carolina Avaria is the Chef Concierge at the Four Seasons in Toronto, home of Café Boulud and d | bar, two of the city's finest spots for fine dining and fine drinks. Carolina knows this city better than anyone, so you’d be well advised to heed her advice when heading out on the town. We asked her to bestow some wisdom upon us. You can thanks us later.
What’s your take on Toronto’s food scene?
I think Japanese restaurants are notably more pronounced in the city at the moment. There are some phenomenal new Japanese sushi places along with the older and more respected spots like Sushi Kaji. Skippa is a wonderful new Japanese place with great food and equally great service. There’s a little place on the edge of Yorkville called Ichiriki, which has been around for a long time and is a local’s favourite. Chef Riki loves jazz so he’s always playing great music. In addition, I’m seeing some wonderful Latin restaurants like Argentinian, Peruvian, the works.
What’s your favourite cuisine?
My favourite cuisine will always remain French. Café Boulud in our hotel is phenomenal for French food, and especially the standout dishes cooked on the top-of-the-line Rotisol rotisserie. The restaurant is home to one of the few Michelin-starred chefs in Toronto. Chabrol is also fantastic and I love dining there al fresco in the summertime. Finally, I enjoy visiting Jacques Bistro du Parc — they’ve been at it 40 years. Their onion soup is delicious.
Where do you send someone who's visiting Toronto to enjoy a great meal?
In Yorkville, the recently opened Sofia serves excellent Italian food in an uber chic setting. Or Dailo on College Street, where Chef Nick Liu is creating some fantastic dishes with his take on modern Asian cuisine and delivering late night dining on their second floor until 2 a.m. Chef Rob Gentile has a great Chef’s counter at Buca Osteria, and I am a massive fan of Chef Patrick Kriss’ Alo, which made the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List.
Let talk about wines...
The wine lists that are most notable in the city continue to be Opus on Prince Arthur and Barberian’s Steak House on Elm at Yonge. But personally, I love visiting Bar Mercurio on Bloor Street to enjoy owner Giuseppe’s excellent selection of Bordeaux wines. It’s a beautiful restaurant and bar, full of locals who return time after time to enjoy the great atmosphere.
Can you suggest some spots for cocktails?
Definitely d|bar at the Four Seasons. Another place I love for cocktails is Lake Inez in the East End. Although they’re all about their beer, smart cocktails can be found there with hilarious names — for a laugh, ensure you read the entire cocktail menu.
As summer approaches, it’s time to relax with a cold beer. Where should we head for some great beer in the city?
Oh my, so many great places for a beer. I love The Oxley in Yorkville, they have a great bar and two patios. But of course, some of the best places would be the breweries in the city, many of which that host tours. You can start with the Amsterdam BrewHouse on the lake, or the hip and perfect new Eastbound Brewing Co. on Queen East (love the label). Further out in the east end I have frequented Godspeed Brewing company on several occasions and as previously mentioned Lake Inez which offers 24 taps of craft beer from local brewers. Finally, I need to mention the Wren on the Danforth, which is my great neighbourhood bar with 12 rotating Ontario craft beers on tap.
What are your suggestions for a pub hopping night in Toronto?
Can I change this to a bar hopping night? I would start off at the rooftop at The Broadview Hotel and watch the sun set across my beloved Toronto’s skyline. Then I would make a move to The Reservoir Lounge to enjoy great martinis and listen to some of Toronto’s best live music. I’m a massive fan of both these spots.
Where would you go for something sweet?
Mira’s El Huevo Malo is a crazy way to end a meal. Exceptionally decadent. Café Boulud hands down has the best soufflé in the city and the very Instagram-worthy profiteroles. For something completely different… try a killer delicious ice cream experience at Eva’s Original Chimneys on the Danforth, but remember they do not accept cash, only debit or credit.