Pedro Quintanilla is now behind the stoves at Bloom.
Last night, I attended the launch (or, more accurately, re-launch) event for Bloom, a pleasant neighbourhood restaurant in Toronto’s Bloor/Runnymede area.
Cuban-born Quintanilla moved to Toronto in the early 90s, cooking at Xango and, after that, Latitude. Since 2004, he’s been behind the stoves at Focaccia, serving up a hybrid menu of Latin and Italian dishes.
In April, he joined Focaccia’s sister restaurant, Bloom, in Bloorwest Village.
So what’s coming out of his kitchen these days?
The press dinner starts off strong with fat frites made from cassava, a potato-like root vegetable. Crispy outside and fluffy within, these faultless frites were sided with a garlicky, creamy, mojo dipping sauce.
Ceviche, too, was a definite hit. To his credit, Quintanilla uses sustainable fish (in this case, B.C. halibut), which he marinates in lime juice for 15 minutes. The tender, ‘cooked’ halibut buzzes with citrus and gets extra flavour notes from raw onion, coriander leaves and habanero peppers. Underneath, a slice of soft sweet potato. An inspired combo.
Less successful is sesame-crusted ahi tuna. Though the fish is cooked properly rare, the sesame crust (and tofu-wasabi dressing) are curiously bland. Flavour-challenged, roasted veg and crisped baby potatoes don’t add much, either.
And then flan, in the sturdy, eggy style of Cuba. Personally, I prefer a creamier texture, but the accompanying thyme and dulce de leche add punch.
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