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Opinion

Don Appetit! Figures — Comic-Book Décor, Serious Kitchen


Don Douloff, Food WriterOutfitted with a comic book-themed décor, Figures resto-lounge opened in early spring, 2017, in Toronto’s Yorkville neighbourhood.

From the moment you enter the small, comic-covered lobby and press a big red button that opens the doors leading to the snazzy split-level restaurant, Figures announces that it’s not a typical restaurant experience.

Figures’ dining room.

Indeed, the intimate and sleek split-level space is bedecked in black tones and gleaming metallic surfaces, and sports a large, superhero-themed wall mural. On the ceiling, there’s a Pac-Man light installation.

But don’t let the comic book-themed décor fool you. Figures has a serious kitchen firmly rooted in a globally inspired philosophy.

Salmon belly on Chinese pancakes.

For example, there’s a terrific dish of velvety salmon belly, daikon, red pepper strips, coriander and sambal-zapped aioli layered onto Chinese pancakes. A clever take on a Pogo hot-dog-on-a-stick substitutes lamb merguez sausage and partners it with two dips — grain mustard and spiced honey.

Soft, roasted rainbow carrots are partnered with shaved raw carrots, the dish brought together by pureed avocado and vin cotto (a thick paste made by reducing unfermented grape must).

Fried chicken TV Dinner.

Mains are similarly excellent. Creamy sweet-potato gratin accessorizes moist and delicate poached organic salmon afloat in a pool of brightly flavoured white-miso beurre blanc.

The whimsically named, and cleverly plated, TV Dinner features fried chicken, silky whipped potatoes zapped with Taleggio cheese, roasted garlic creamed corn and Brussels sprouts, along with a smooth dip made with butter and Frank’s hot sauce. It’s presented in an orange plastic tray, with each item nestled in its own compartment, just like TV dinners. A terrifically fun dish!

Mini ice cream cones.

Ending off the evening is a trio of excellent desserts. There’s a quartet of house-made ice creams (rum raison; and coconut) and sorbets (berry; and mango) scooped into tiny ice cream cones. There’s a crumble built on generous amounts of apple and pear, and garnished with aged-cheddar ice cream. And there’s a large and elaborate candy bar made with Callebaut chocolate, salted caramel and razor-thin flakes of feuilletine. On the side, there’s a ramekin of passion fruit custard sauce, for dipping.

 

Figures’ front area.

For private group events, Figures offers full buyouts, and hosts 90 people for seated meals and 150 people, cocktail-style. Three- and four-course prix fixe group menus are available.

— Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 30 years and, during that time, has critiqued more than 1,500 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.