Big changes afoot at TOCA restaurant, in the Ritz-Carlton Toronto, with a new-concept lunch and dinner menu launched Oct. 24 by Gihen Zitouni, who joined the restaurant in July as executive chef, replacing Tom Brodi.
A 10-year veteran of kitchens in Ritz-Carlton properties in Barcelona, Miami, St. Thomas and, most recently, Sintra, Portugal, Zitouni has conjured a dinner menu highlighted by a 15-item appetizer list of globally inflected sharing plates.
And what plates they are!
Fresh-tasting steak tartare given sweetness by razor-thin fried onions. Greaseless, shatteringly crisp croquettes with a creamy filling of two cheeses (goat and Danish blue) in subtle harmony. Bite-sized cubes of fluffy baked potato crowned with braised veal, tomato sauce and aioli. And, the best of a strong lot, a warm ‘terrine’ of Nova Scotia smoked trout, compacted into a puck beribboned with filaments of sweetly caramelized onion and topped with a thin layer of potato spread with creamy aioli.
Clearly, these shared apps – well conceived and carefully executed – are a labour of love for Zitouni and her kitchen brigade.
Best of all for meeting and event planners, the small-plates menu is tailor-made for group sharing.
From a short list of mains, there are rosy slices of filet mignon, tender and cooked exactly as ordered, adroitly complemented by al dente spaghetti tossed with an earthy mushroom fricassee.
End notes come courtesy of a goat-cheese panna cotta studded with berries and chunks of cookie, a refreshing end to a deeply satisfying meal.
To Zitouni’s credit, she builds her menu on domestic ingredients, with fully 80 per cent of her raw materials originating from Canada.
Enhancing the experience is a decor refresh – new pendant lighting and seating – that has given the dining room’s front area a warm, bistro feel.
A glass-enclosed private dining room seats 12, while a chef’s table, in the kitchen, seats eight.
Visit TOCA’s site