This isn’t your father’s steakhouse. It’s STK Toronto, the first Canadian location of the upscale U.S. chain, and it opened last September, occupying an 8,800-square-foot space in the former Four Seasons Hotel, in the tony Yorkville area.
Gone are the dark wood, heavy paneling and intense brocade of yesterday’s steakhouses. In their place is a high-octane space, chic and utterly of-the-moment, conceived by Toronto-based DesignAgency.
Syncopated, gleaming white ribs lead the eye to the upper banquettes, bar and private dining rooms. Over the bar sits a ‘horn wall.’ Throughout the space, grand, sinuous architectural forms sweep across ceilings and down statuary walls. Punctuated with purple accent lighting, white painted brick walls and STK’s signature rosewood framed white rollback banquettes foster an airy, convivial ambience. In the dining room, a DJ booth rises, providing another clue that this is a thoroughly modern steakhouse.
Overseen by executive chef Tommy McHugh (ex-Nota Bene, Stock and Splendido restaurants), the menu reimagines classic recipes refracted through a modern prism.
Warm-from-the-oven, pull-apart sourdough bread, drizzled with blue-cheese butter, sets the stage. A strong set of apps features melt-in-the-mouth tuna tartare and avocado soy honey emulsion on crisp taro chips; tiniest, sweetest crispy rock shrimp on chile remoulade; and sliders fashioned from moist ’n’ rich wagyu beef.
The kitchen sends out an 18 oz., bone-in strip steak that carries the deep mineral tang of dry-aged beef. Chicken is brined, rolled, cooked sous-vide and then pan-seared until it’s fork tender. Accessorizing this beauteous bird are cauliflower puree and foraged mushrooms.
Sides are stellar, and include gooey mac ’n’ cheese and al dente broccolini. But best-in-show goes to the tater tot poutine. Exclusive to STK’s Toronto location, this super side features the World’s Fluffiest Hash Browns rolled into a kind of cake and topped with rich braised beef short ribs.
To finish, there’s delicate apple crumb cake paired with dulce de leche ice cream.
Main dining room accommodates 200, seated and 325, reception-style, and semi-private space The Bistro accommodates 48, seated. Candy Barr and Tempest Storm private rooms each accommodate 16, seated, and combined, accommodate 32, seated and 40, reception-style.
— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 25 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,300 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.