Foodservice Friday: Alo

Friday, March 25, 2016
Aged beef ribeye, bone marrow, watercress, shallots
Sometimes a restaurant gets such a great review that you have to go, just to see if it could possibly be that good. And occasionally a restaurant gets three such reviews. That was the case with Alo.

Toronto Life called it the best new restaurant in Toronto. Canada's 100 Best magazine called it the best new restaurant in Canada. The restaurant critic for the Globe and Mail described his experience of eating the stew as "probably the best five minutes of my year."

How could I stay away?

But such acclaim comes with popularity, and I tried making reservations a few times with no luck. Finally, I must have timed it perfectly, because just before Christmas I scored a reservation three months out - on a Saturday night!
Pinenuts, yellowfoot chanterelles, celery root, delice de bourgogne
Alo is tucked away on the second floor of a nondescript building on busy Spadina Avenue, just above a tattoo parlour. If you didn't know it existed, you'd never find it; even though we knew it was there, we were happy the greeter on the main floor reassured us we were in the right place.

The menu is different every night, with two choices per course. The presentations were gorgeous: even if I wasn't taking pictures for my blog I'd have taken them anyhow, out of admiration and respect. Technically there were five courses, but actually there were probably closer to ten (including three tiny desserts). Everything is prepared with the utmost of care. Even the butter that's served with the bread is made in-house.

And how did it taste? I adored everything I ate, with the chanterelle mushroom dish being an early contender for the best five minutes of my year.

Kampachi, rice pearls, fennel, cured egg yolk
Chef Patrick Kriss graciously answered the questions I asked him. He said his greatest influences were the people he worked for at New York's Daniel restaurant - Jean-Francois Bruel, Eddy Leroux, and of course Daniel Boulud, all of whom he described as being extremely hard-working and dedicated people. And charmingly, when I asked him what his most memorable cooking moments were, he answered, "Cooking with my grandmother when I was a child. Pies and simple roasts on Sunday."

A note to my Toronto friends: Alo is now taking reservations only two months in advance. In the name of blog research, I went on Open Table this morning to see what reservations were available, and got the message "No availability for Alo restaurant ... in next 8 weeks." But don't give up - this is a restaurant that's more than worth the wait. And when you get that reservation, be sure to tell me which course was the best five minutes of your year.

163 Spadina Avenue
Toronto ON

(All opinions are my own, and I received no compensation for this post.)


Angie's Recipes said...

Sounds like a really popular restaurant. The ribeye looks really delicious.
Have a wonderful holiday weekend, Beth!

Unknown said...

This sounds like a restaurant worth the wait. Also, sometimes I think it's better to call the restaurant instead of using Open Table. I find sometimes they have cancellations or can squeeze you in.

That Girl said...

Sounds like a real experience.

That Girl said...

Sounds like a real experience.

Liz That Skinny Chick Can Bake said...

Don't you love when you score a table at a new hot spot?! Sounds like it was worth the wait :) Happy Easter, Beth!

handmade by amalia said...

Very elegant plating.

Monica said...

So glad it lived up to expectations! Sounds like a great place.

Cakelaw said...

The food looks fabulous - glad you enjoyed it.

Tricia Buice said...

Happy Easter Beth! so nice to have good local restaurants - we often wish there were more to try in our little town. We could drive 50 miles north with the hoards of traffic and visit the Washington D.C. scene - but dogs need to be watered and we seem to stay too busy. The food sounds wonderful!

Jemi Fraser said...

Next time I'm in TO, I'm going to spend all my time eating at these fabulous restaurants you keep showcasing!!!! :)

Inger @ Art of Natural Living said...

Wow, sounds like an amazing experience! I wish I had known you for recommendations back when we were in Toronto (though I guess with the wait, it wouldn't have helped with this spot)

grace said...

i'm always dazzled by dishes that are presented so artistically! looks like some delicious fare. :)

Pam said...

The food looks beautiful, almost too pretty to eat. Wish the restaurant were closer to the Chicago area!

Kitchen Riffs said...

Lucky you! Sounds like a terrific place. I want to go! :-)

Andrea_TheKitchenLioness said...

Beth, that sounds like such a wonderful place to go for dinner and have an amazing time. Beautiful plating!

Katerina said...

I am sure the dishes you tried were close to perfection! If I ever visit there I will keep this restaurant in mind!

Unknown said...

Wow! They look perfect! Wish I could try them as well!

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