East Thirty-Six is a terrific addition to downtown Toronto’s dining scene. Located in the space formerly housing an oyster bar and, before that, Lucien, East Thirty-Six has operated for three years, but feels like it’s been around forever thanks to an inviting upscale-tavern decor that’s timeless and contemporary all at once: hardwood floors, black-padded banquettes, granite-topped bar, wrought-iron ceiling details, and wall-mounted light fixtures that echo the eatery’s historic Corktown neighbourhood.
Plates are sized for sharing. Quality is high, thanks to sophisticated, cleverly conceived dishes anchored by first-rate ingredients and rock-solid technique.
Seasonal mixed pickles bring crunchy, puckery yellow beans, slivered carrots, mushrooms and shishito peppers. Perfectly tender cauliflower florets are bathed in brown butter and hazelnuts, preserved lemon’s citrus tang balancing the nutty richness.
Also superb are scallops, sparklingly fresh and sliced paper thin, tangy from lime and olive oil and given crunch from celery and rich accents from shaved lardo.
Sublimely tender after being cooked sous vide for three days, beef short rib is partnered with pureed eggplant brightened with tart pomegranate juice. On top, there’s a hillock of shatteringly crisp matchstick potatoes.
Ending the evening is warm, oatmeal-topped crumble of firm, bourboun-spiced apples crowned with melted Monforte cheddar, for brilliantly contrasting savoury notes.
Buyouts will be considered for the restaurant, which accommodates 65 people for seated dinners and 120, cocktail style. Semi-private Purple Room seats 14.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 25 years and, during that time, has critiqued almost 1,000 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.