Open a little more than a month, in First Canadian Place office tower in Toronto’s downtown banking core, King Taps is a huge hit, right out of the box.
Early on a mid-week night, the two-level, 450-seat sports bar throbs from the collective energy of an after-work crowd eager to cut loose.
Being a sports bar, King Taps offers a wide selection of beer, with 60 to 65 labels on draught. But make no mistake: The food is anything but an afterthought.
I was impressed with the Sierra salad, an ultra-fresh (and generous!) mound of greens tossed in an understated apple cider vinaigrette. Offering textural crunch are sunflower and pumpkin seeds; offering tang are grapefruit sections and pickled red onion. Half a grilled avocado, at the peak of ripeness, adds luxury.
Poke, the trendy raw-tuna dish, gets a sophisticated makeover, layered with mango and avocado, and sparked with miso and sesame-ginger vinaigrette.
And don’t pass up the pizza. The King Taps team worked for more than two years perfecting the pie, taste-testing about 30 recipes. The result is chewy-crispy crust slathered, in the case of the Margherita, with ultra-sweet San Marzano tomato sauce, bocconcini and fragrant basil.
Oven-roasted chicken breast is uncommonly juicy, and served with orecchiette pasta bolstered with an intensely flavoured caramelized jus, roasted cauliflower and broccoli.
A generous side of frites, and a side Caesar, accompanies two steaks, a 7 oz. filet (sided with a sumptuous brown-butter hollandaise) and a 12 oz. ribeye (accessorized by peppercorn demi glace).
Perfect for summer, desserts favour soft-serve ice cream, sourced from Calgary’s Foothills Creamery, that’s higher-fat than the norm, boasting a rich, velvety texture. King Taps offers Foothills’ vanilla, chocolate and vanilla-chocolate swirl on their own, served in tiny Dixie Cups, and also uses the vanilla to anchor a sundae built on strawberry compote, strawberries and graham cracker crumbs.
Outfitted with acres of hard surfaces and clever, eye-catching modern art, the airy space is sleek and contemporary.
The upper level’s West Bar hosts groups of 18 to 25 for seated meals, and North Bar accommodates up to 40, cocktail-style. The lower level’s ‘full centre’ configuration hosts up to 42, seated. The restaurant is also available for full buyouts.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,400 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.