Archeo, in Toronto’s Distillery District, exudes the feel of an urban loft — high yellow-pine ceilings, concrete floors, exposed brick walls, Edison lightbulbs. Further enhancing its contemporary-style-meets-historic-tradition look are dining tables and bar fashioned from reclaimed timber, and artist Steven Evans’ oversized photographs of onsite heritage architecture.
For its part, the kitchen sends out first-rate, upscale comfort food. One night, there’s butternut squash soup, smooth and full of flavour. A novel take on caprese salad sees tomatoes, oven-cured to sweetness, partnered with silky buffalo ricotta and mizuna leaves moistened with Prosecco-sharpened vinaigrette.
Tender smoked chicken, oyster mushrooms, toasted corn and earthy mushroom broth garnish feathery ricotta gnocchi.
Vegetable lasagna sees al dente grilled eggplant, portobello mushrooms, zucchini and wilted spinach layered between pasta sheets, a thick and intensely flavoured tomato sauce bringing everything together. This is one of the better vegetable lasagnas I’ve had.
Braised short rib sits atop a polenta cake garnished with wilted dandelion greens and sweet tomato jam.
Continuing the high notes are a stellar lineup of desserts: Rich, not-too-sweet chocolate pudding; intensely flavoured mango sorbet served with moist, rich butter cake; and almond pear crostata featuring firm fruit atop perfect pastry.
Archeo is available for buyouts and seats about 120 people. In the good weather, an outdoor patio (with its own bar) can host cocktails in conjunction with any buyout and also seats 64.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 25 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,200 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.