Ortolan - A welcomed addition to Bloordale
Ortolan is a small, bar-like resto on Bloor between Dufferin and Lansdowne, conveniently located next to the House of Lancaster. It quietly opened this past Thursday following a complete makeover, making it nearly unrecognizable from its humble Kathy's Kitchen roots. Like a lot of folks in the neighborhood, I had been waiting for this place to open for the past few months. We have essentially no
The menu is short, and I assume ever-changing since it's up on a blackboard. The menu is split in four - apps, pastas, mains and sides. There were eight wines in total, six of which were available by the glass. Homemade cordials are served with club soda in lieu of name brand sodas. There are maybe 20 seats in all, with two bars.
From the apps, we had the grilled green onion with some kind of tomato/garlic sauce for dipping (it was Spanish, similar to Romesco). The charred flavour of the green onions was quite nice, but perhaps there was too much onion/garlic going on in that dish as we were all tasting it hours later. We also had guanciale with leek vinaigrette and a hard-boiled egg, which was fantastic. The leek vinaigrette was more like a pile of sauteed leeks with a bit of acidity, a perfect complement to the salty pork.
From the pastas, we had the gnocchi with wild mushrooms, which were probably the best gnocchis I have ever had. They were so incredibly light! And the sauce was earthy and creamy, filled with yellowfoot mushrooms. I normally don't even like mushrooms, but this was just fantastic.
I had the sardines with saffron broth as my main. The sardines came with pine nuts and raisins, as well as a thick slice of fennel that had been poached in the broth. I'm a sardine fan, and these did not disappoint. My dining companion had the the pirate's chicken, which had an East African spice + coffee crust. Also delicious.
For the sides, we had the beets with tahini and the honeyed turnips. The beets were particularly good, and almost tasted like borsht.
All in all, I very much enjoyed my dinner at Ortolan. The menu had good variety, the atmostphere was relaxed, the service was very competent (you couldn't even tell that it was only their second night). A welcomed addition to the neighborhood!
I went, it was so so, nothing terrible but nothing screamed at me to return either. The gnocchi meat sauce was seasoned well, problem is that the gnocchi was mushy, very lacking in mouthfeel.
Other plate was a fish dish, probably whitefish, w/ very little ramps on top. It was ok, nothing wrong w/ it. I know it's trend du jour to put ramps on a menu, but having that little on top of a fish doesn't change its flavour much. Yes I know ramps are expensive, but I didn't feel it added much to the dish in that quantity.
Prices aren't steep but as expected w/ these places, portions are very small. If you want to get really full, you're looking at $45ish per person w/o booze. For that $, I rather just spend it at a Chinese restaurant ordering multiple seafood dishes.
I just don't find much value or taste in the mid-range restaurants of Toronto, not singling these guys out, it's a recurring theme. I went because it's my area, so it's worth one shot. Won't be returning. Again, this is my personal preference, I rather save my whitey dining for out of town.
Service was good btw.
Excellent meal at Ortolan last night.
We ate a socca (chickpea crepe, stuffed with squash, chard and an assertive aged goat's cheese), ravioli with chanterelles stuffed with spinach and ricotta, gnocchi with sausage ragu, kefte (like perfect medium rare Mediterranean bunless little burgers, served with a parsley salad and some spiced yogurt), and a side of vegetable marrow (in actuality a zucchini with a soft centre, served with more spiced yogurt---this is the kind of place where you probably shouldn't mind meeting an ingredient more than once---they're good ingredients, though), vanilla panna cotta with strawberries, a dense, brownie-like burnt almond and chocolate cake.
I was particularly impressed by the skilfully made pastas (which I would put up against anything I had in my single visit to Campagnolo), but it was all very tasty (not a loser in the bunch) and remarkably reasonably priced. Around$110 (after tax) for all that food, a campari and soda, a bourbon, 3 glasses of wine.
Service was very friendly.
After a number of disappointing meals at new and hyped places (how many times have you heard a variant on that opener in this town?) I was so happy to have such good food at what is for now, a little neighbourhood place that has gone mostly under the radar.
832 Dundas St. W, Toronto, ON , CA