I first encountered Gordon Goss’s superlative cooking at Cucci restaurant, in Bronte, Ont., west of Toronto, where his food wowed me with creativity and refinement backed up by rock-solid technique.
This fall, he became executive chef and assistant general manager at Radius restaurant, in downtown Hamilton, about an hour west of Toronto. After overhauling the menu, chef Goss, in late November, relaunched Radius, which has been open for more than four years.
The results are predictably impressive, and bring a procession of dishes that are both sophisticated and hearty, and packed with flavour.
We begin with chowder loaded with chunks of smoked Atlantic salmon, diced carrot and celery, in a broth kissed with cream. The daily soup, built on San Marzano tomatoes, boasted an uncommon depth of flavour — smoky, irresistible — complemented by an enormous puff-pastry cheese twist.
Black truffle fondue, shallots and parmesan kicked up the earthiness of mixed mushrooms in a rich and satisfying crostini.
A must-try cold starter is the roasted cauliflower flowerets perched atop richly flavoured coconut cashew rice lavished with ginger peanut sauce. It’s almost a meal in itself!
Mains show a kitchen in full command of its powers. Perfectly al dente side veg accessorized Portuguese heritage chicken, moist of flesh and crisp of skin.
Normally chewy to a fault, hanger steak was toothsome and carried deep mineral tang. Animating the marvelous meat were scallion mashed potatoes, garlic chile rapini and vermouth oxtail jus.
B.C. black cod boasted that melt-in-the-mouth, almost custardy texture that fab fish attains when properly cooked. A fricassee of cabbage, wild mushrooms and braised beluga lentils, elegant and earthy and homey all at once, amplified the cod’s many charms.
We finish with banoffee pie, a heavenly construction of torched bananas, toffee, mascarpone cream and milk and dark chocolate set on a pecan/graham crust. The kitchen also deconstructs a banana split into its delicious constituent parts: flourless chocolate cake, bruleed bananas, vanilla ice cream, bourbon caramel, peanut butter dust and cherries.
All of this unfolds in a multi-level space that takes full advantage of the superlative bones of its late-1800s heritage building. Outfitted in hardwood floors, exposed brick, pressed-tin ceiling, elegant chandeliers and walls festooned with locally made artwork, the main dining room, resplendent in understated earthtones, manages to be elegant and casual all at once. Further boosting the room’s charms are huge picture windows peering onto busy James Street South.
— 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.