Impact! Sizzling and gleaming from the grill, a 34 oz. bone in ribeye steak, with fingerling and marrow mash, chili garlic rice, scintillating butter poached lobster and a generosity of foie gras. This extravaganza will leave you delirious with satisfaction, vowing to return to share with your best friends. Such is the daydream turned reality, and listed on the menu as Chef’s Last Meal.
The Chef is Richard Andino. Remember his name, because his new Toronto restaurant, DYNE, will soon be on everyone’s lips. No stranger to Toronto’s top kitchens, the time came for Richard to strike out on his own and, with his chef de cuisine Julie Marteleira, installed himself into a charming century house in a great location: Avenue Road and Bernard.
Up a few steps beside the cozy front patio will bring you into a room that speaks of warmth and care. A sense of humour is obvious in Richard’s choice of art. Take note of the huge painting of his favourite chopping knife. The neighbourhood foodies like to sit at the cozy bar, interact with the chef, and enjoy dinner with wines carefully chosen to match Richard’s distinct flavour profiles.
Reading through the one-page menu, I see that there is not a cliché in the lot. Start with smoky, roasted eggplant, mixed with molasses yogurt and topped with tomato jam. Scoop up a mouthful with crisp flatbread, and you will involuntarily smile. Do not miss pan de sal, fresh from the oven bread rolls the size of golf balls, and add some whipped butter. Some people have been known to order three and four servings of these scrumptious morsels.
Staying true to his Spanish-Asian roots, as well as Julie’s Portuguese heritage, the kitchen offers crudo hamachi tuna, pickled onion, pea shoots tangy with black vinegar, and a half-dozen perfectly executed cod fritters with romesco sauce. If grilled calamari is on the menu, order it if only to enjoy black calamansi aioli and pepper chili that lift this oceanic critter to a new level.
Still, with all these intriguing flavours and colours, my favourite item on the menu is cross cut ribs. They languish for days in a marinade of about a dozen ingredients that include pineapple, soy and Worcestershire, before they are grilled and served glistening and redolent with exotic flavors. Cornish hen is given royal treatment. This lovely bird is roasted with fermented pepper, lemon and garlic.
Sweets, too, are an adventure. I am torn. There is the intriguing Pastel de Chocolate with its bittersweet ganache, salted caramel and pineapple, and/or cassava cake with coconut and kaffir lime sorbet. I chose the latter, and without batting an eye, happily devoured three scoops of the luscious sorbet and cake.
Indulge in the rare and exciting flavor profile that is Andino’s personal statement. It will leave you wanting to return for more, more, more.
DYNE, 120 Avenue Road, 416-962-5655, Monday to Saturday, 4:30 p.m. to 11:00