Earlier this year, Entice Lounge threw open its doors on downtown Toronto’s Queen Street West, near Ossington Avenue.
It’s an understated yet tastefully designed bistro space — black and grey palette, plenty of hard surfaces, clustered globe light fixtures, Edison bulbs, banquettes and, up front, a snazzy bar — that is casual yet chic, definitely in tune with its trendy neighbourhood.
Executive chef Ryan Wilson-Lall, who’d been on the launch team at Le Germain Maple Leaf Square and, most recently, worked at the AGO’s Frank restaurant, where he spent three years, uses seasonal, local ingredients filtered through a global sensibility backed up by assured technique. Working in a glassed-in kitchen, in full view of the dining room, Wilson-Lall and his team turn out a succession of stellar dishes.
For example, there’s a sumptuous raviolo, of about 6 inches, which incorporates runny egg, bacon, whipped porcini egg white and roasted garlic mascarpone into an extravagantly delicious dish. Not to be missed.
Meats excel, whether it’s marinated and grilled Korean-style beef ribs detonated with understated house-made kimchi, or grilled Ontario 10 oz prime striploin — tender, juicy, with a deep mineral tang — elevated by red wine veal jus. Sour cherries, compressed pear, roasted parsnips and baby turnips mediate the richness of generous duck breast.
But the evening’s highlight is sea bream, pan-seared to delicate moistness and adroitly paired with charred broccolini (for quietly bitter notes) and brilliant ‘spaghetti’ made from spiralized zucchini.
To finish, the kitchen sends out freshly made waffles, zapped with tres leches (literally “three milks,” traditionally evaporated, condensed and heavy cream), stacked and layered with strawberries, which are light and homey.
Buyouts will be considered for the restaurant, which seats 70 people. A private room seats up to 10.
— 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.