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Jan 9, 2012 01:11 PM

Yours Truly - new restaurant on Ossington

Okay, I'm starting a new thread...

We walked by this new restaurant on Ossington over the weekend. They apparently opened a few weeks ago. They hadn't opened for the day yet but a friendly woman at the door saw us peeking in and handed us a card - looked cute. The menu looked interesting and the bits I read online about the owners, chef and menu format piqued my curiosity - would love to hear more. Aser, you've already got them in your top 10 - can you (and anyone else who's been) please share some details? Thanks.

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  1. Best value vs quality for "continental" restaurant in Toronto.

    BOH are staff from Scarpetta, left to start their own thing. Food is very different from that. The Noma influence is there w/ the soil usage, Asian ingredients play a part also.

    I had a perfectly cooked piece of trout. Extremely well composed plates, you won't find plates with the level of presentation at this price point in Toronto. Friendly welcoming staff for FOH, cooks also will run dishes to tables and give descriptions. A very relaxed but at the same time professional vibe. The staff know their food and will gladly explain to you. Also, best music I've heard in a restaurant by far. This is highly personal though, I heard some Nigerian afrobeat, Recloose, Liquid Liquid. it was just on point.

    Best comparison I can give to a Toronto restaurant? Acadia with more concise execution, bigger portions and cheaper prices.

    I like this place very much, a hearty co-sign. They deserve to succeed.

    9 Replies
    1. re: aser

      Agree on the value for sure. Shows great promise.

      But economic realities will surely intrude and prices inevitably rise as there seem to be a large number of staff for such a small place (maybe 30 seats plus another 8 at the Bar – I counted at least 7 people ‘working’ but not sure if I saw all of the kitchen staff).

      Menu concept is a little unusual – two prix fixe 4-course menus (one meat, one vegetarian), plus a couple of amuses thrown in – at an excellent price point. Plus some small plates that are presumably aimed mainly at bar patrons. Perhaps an attempt to compete with Winterlicious?

      The website implies a ‘daily menu’ but it’s probably seasonal as the protein in two of the three courses (fourth is dessert) were substituted when I visited. Fortunately the trout (mentioned by Aser) was the lone survivor, and it’s truly outstanding – already a candidate for ‘dish of the year’ for me.
      The other excellent dishes, for me, were the bread (extra charge, but well worth it) and the Pork Ssam (one of the small plates on offer).

      I really enjoyed my meal – but have a couple of concerns – essentially there’s only one menu ‘choice’. In theory a couple (say) could order the vegetarian menu also – but two of the four courses are mostly identical anyway. Just a single dessert option (also available as a ‘small plate’ option). If one doesn’t like Panna Cotta (or Meringue) then not sure what would happen as it’s included in the price.

      Wine list is very small – and unusual selections – but matched well with the food.

      Overall, though, I would certainly return – maybe just for the trout, but otherwise I’d wait until the menu changes a bit.

      1. re: estufarian

        Sounds really promising. Gorgeous presentation in your pics, Aser. Thank you both for the reports - you guys were fast to discover this place!

        1. re: estufarian

          That is my main worry as well, prices won't stay at this price point for long. I'm sure it was kept intentionally low to attract patrons. They did very little advertising with their place, relying solely on word of mouth/industry buzz. There is a lot of staff at the place, but I'm glad to see the cooks present plates. Tells me they get a well deserved cut of the tips, always happy about that. These guys are putting in 16 hour days to pull this food off, kudos to them.

          My friends ordered the vegetarian option, they thoroughly enjoyed their meal also. The smoked mash potatoes was a highlight, with these marinated celery strips.

          The prices again do not reflect the quality of the plates. The food is comparable if not better than restaurants charging 1.5 - 2x the prices, which is pretty much most continental restaurants in Toronto. Get it while the getting is good.

          If it's one thing I know estufarian, we tend to have similar tastes judging on our post history. Not surprised you liked it.

          1. re: aser

            what were the items for the vegetarian option?

            1. re: helenhelen


              Although this is called 'daily' it hasn't changed since I started monitoring.

              1. re: estufarian

                thanks! want to go there for my bday dinner on friday but they don't answer the phone or return phone calls. maybe they don't take reservations. anyone know?

                1. re: helenhelen

                  According to their twitter: "We only book half the room for each dinner sitting (6/9pm). Walk ins are very welcome."

                  1. re: helenhelen

                    finally got through and we reserved for 7:30pm with no problems on a friday night (only hours before). the food was interesting and delicious! amazing value. they also brought out 3 different small sampling apps for us, free! my boyfriend also got a full dessert for free (even though he hadn't ordered it.. he ordered 5 items from the snack menu as his meal). i got the vegetarian prix fixe. we also had a bottle of the niagara house wine (white) which was good as well.

                    i like that it's a set menu, actually. it makes for an interesting surprise each time, and you're trusting the chef with curating your meal.

                    i look forward to my next visit! probably my new fave restaurant!

            2. re: estufarian

              I absolutely want to encourage a place that puts equal effort into the veg offerings, so YT is on my list.

              At the same time, I know the prix-fixe format will keep me from coming often, because it's still more expensive than my usual restaurant meal (I rarely order more than one course, just don't have the stomach space for it).

          2. Article appearing in tomorrow's GridTO.

            3 Replies
            1. re: sbug206

              Crap. I mean, good for them. But bad for me.

              1. re: sbug206

                It's a good article that clarifies the genesis of the restaurant. Apparently it was initially supposed to be a late night snack type place. However, the owners were blown away by the caliber of chef they managed to attract and gave him the freedom to express himself via the prix fixe menu. I can't wait to check this place out.


                1. re: littlelam

                  I think he might have the most impressive resume in the city. I'm looking forward to trying it once the rush dies down.

              2. We really wanted to like this place.

                We had walked by a couple of weeks ago after this spot had quietly opened. A woman came out as we were looking at the menu in the window and - without any effort to lure us in that night - gave us a business card and invited us to come back some time. We had a good feel from the menu and design of the room (although the name was a bit saccharine), so when we later read some very positive reviews online, we decided it was the next spot we had to check out.

                We arrived early and the place was quiet as we sat at the bar. Drinks came quickly and the cocktails were deftly prepared and balanced. After a brief discussion with our server, we decided to split a "meat tasting menu" and to order a few small dishes in order to try as many items as possible. The tasting menu included dishes simply named "turnips", "trout", "duck in violets" and "yogurt" as the headings, with brief lists of ingredients below. After we’d ordered, we were told, however, that the "duck" tonight was in fact chicken prepared in some different fashion. The small dishes we ordered were the salt cod, doubles, lobster roll and pork ssam. We told our server that we wanted things to come out slowly so we could take our time and asked that he recommend an order that made sense.

                The salt cod was the first to come out. Fried tofu pockets stuffed with salt cod, rice and nori. Delicious. Unfortunately, it turned out they were the highlight of the meal. The inconsistency followed immediately. Doubles were simply ok - nothing about them took the flavours beyond what one might find at your neighbourhood Caribbean joint. The lobster roll which followed was a hit, however, and briefly restored our hopes.

                The "turnips" dish from the tasting menu consisted of a puree with cucumber, spelt and whipped honey. We found it bland and unappealing until, as we neared the end of the plate, we came across a small spot of the promised honey which finally helped tie the flavours together. The "trout", with bok choy and toasted hazelnuts, was acceptable and well-presented, but was not the sensational dish that one online reviewer had described.

                Interspersed with the dishes above (which all came out rather quickly despite our request to take it slowly) were a few small tasting items. Salmon tartare (did our server tell us it tuna?) which didn't excite; a solid split pea soup with ham hock; then a plate on which were placed two spinach leafs, surrounded by what seemed to be a mild red salt with drop of a white cheesey substance in the middle. When we asked about the last somewhat puzzling one, we were simply told "it's a spinach leaf". We were left wishing someone could have explained the other components and help us in our appreciation of the kitchen's offerings.

                An extremely long wait followed before the next dish arrived. Without any further explanation, the "duck in violets" that we were told would be a chicken dish that night reverted back to being duck. Duck, that is, that appeared to have been sitting for a while, as it was served as a tepid slab of duck breast. In addition to being tough and cool, the flavours of this dish – the violet-ish coloured fixings - simply didn't come together for us. A comment to our server that the duck had been cold resulted in him apologizing, scurrying off to the kitchen and returning with no further explanation but with an offer to buy us each another drink. We declined.

                Dessert came next. "Yogurt", as the menu named it, which was presented in an unappealing fashion. It looked like a big bowl of yogurt, within which a piece of cake was buried. As we fished through the bowl with our spoons, we discovered that the yogurt tasted off but that the cake below was tasty, particularly if you were lucky enough to find the muelsi and apple within the sea of dairy covering it. A comment to the server that the yogurt tasted off resulted in him again going to the kitchen, only to explain on returning that the "yogurt" was actually buttermilk and that the yogurt in the name of the dish referred to the yogurt in the cake. He apologized and conceded that they need to work on the naming of their dishes. Two points come to mind - first, explaining something like this to customers would likely improve their initial impression of the confusingly named dessert; second - are there people that want to eat a whole bowl of buttermilk for dessert? Really? In our view, this dish would have greatly benefitted from being deconstructed - a dollop of buttermilk on top or a side serving would have allowed us to balance the different components of this dessert.

                The careful reader will have noticed that we have not yet described the pork ssam we ordered. Upon the delivery of our dessert, we advised our server that we hadn't received the pork ssam. Presumably of the view that nothing goes with a bowl of buttermilk like slow cooked pork, his response was that he'd make sure it came out immediately. We had to suggest ourselves that it simply be cancelled at this point. No apology followed.

                After picking through the dessert, we asked for the bill. The undelivered ssam was not there but nothing had been taken off as a gesture for the several missteps over the evening. One might have thought that the offer to buy us a round of drinks could have been applied to the last round we had ordered. It wasn’t.

                A comment about the service - it was polite but very unengaged. Very little was said about the dishes as they were served; nor were we generally asked whether we had enjoyed them. This lack of attention to our experience was in contrast to the attention the staff paid to each other chatting it up behind the bar in small groups. Even as we were settling up, there was no meaningful effort acknowledge the several mix ups or our disappointment.

                Bottom line, dinner was disappointing and would have been even more of one if we'd each ordered the tasting menu. For a couple of snacks and drink (particularly late at night, as their snacks are available until 2 a.m.), it might be worth a stop - but otherwise we won't be back. I note that says the owners’ original plan was to make the place a late-night snack spot and that the tasting menu was added after they snagged their pedigreed chef off of craigslist. Perhaps the unplanned cobbling together of the two offerings is part of the reason behind the inconsistency and service issues we experienced.

                "Yours truly",

                the dine-amic duo.

                12 Replies
                  1. re: dineamicduo

                    I'm going to disagree with the past two posters here. My meal at Yours Truly over the weekend was a great experience, as six diners left very content with their meal. Not to put down anyone's taste, I feel like this restaurant will be more appreciated for those with a finer palette.

                    I found the spinach to be one of the freshest bites, and was a wonderful palette cleanser. Although it was not described to us either, I'm thinking the dollop was either a buttermilk or creme fraiche hit with a bit more acid, and that the "red salt" described above was actually crackling dust (YUM). Both of these components made the spinach itself taste spectacularly clean, like an injection of chlorophyll.

                    I'll say the "trout" dish was equally as simple and impressive. Pairing hazelnut and bok choy really worked for me, and I'll be using it in my own home cooking from now on. The trout had a perfectly crisp skin and was cooked to perfection, atop what seemed to be an affected brown butter sauce - This was divine.

                    Sure, the "salad" was my least favourite of the four main dishes, but I think all that was lacking was some punch. Perhaps a few drops of a spicy chili sauce, preferably orange scotch bonnet.

                    There's a lot more to be said about the experience, but I don't want to spoil the whole thing. Go with an open mind and palette, and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. I want to say that this restaurant compares most with what L.A.B. was doing when they first opened a few years back, except that Yours Truly is pushing similar boundaries while also following through on execution.

                    With an ever-changing menu, there are surely to be hits and misses along the way. That said, I'm definitely looking forward to what my next experience will bring at Yours Truly.

                    1. re: dlw88

                      Hahaahahaha "more appreciated for those with a finer palette"

                      I checked this place out a couple of weeks ago - admittedly only the snacks menu, which does not fully reflect what this place is all about.

                      The salt cod was fine, the ssam was pretty good but they had a dessert with panacotta and an applewood meringue which was maybe the single worst thing I have had in a decade.

                      It seemed like an homage to a similar dessert I had at Alinea two years ago, but the applewood smoked meringue was horribly oversmoked and tasted only of meat or hot dogs, which paired horribly with the panacotta. We hardly touched it, and they removed it from the bill.

                      None of the items on the snacks menu I tried were particularly revelatory, but all were well executed.

                      I have since talked to other people who have also eaten there and they were similarly unimpressed. I am going to try the tasting menu out because apparently that's where the talent lies but it was not an auspicious beginning.

                      1. re: dlw88

                        Do you think that "those with a finer palette" (sic) are expecting scotch bonnet flavour in a salad? I wouldn't think so.

                        1. re: foodyDudey

                          Agreed. I'm trying to say more refined. It's nice to appreciate an entire dish as a whole, as well as the individual components on their own, along with their inter-connectedness and contrasts in flavour, texture, and temperature. Not everyone tastes food in the same way, which is why I could see some appreciating or detesting this food for different reasons than others.

                          FD, have you had the salad? If not, try it, and choose to agree or disagree with me then.

                          1. re: dlw88

                            I haven't eaten there yet but hope to do that in the next month or two. I'll let you know how it is if it's served to me. From the reviews here, people seem to either love it or not like it much. I'm not sure what to think, but that yogurt soup cake desert seems like something I'm not interested in.

                            1. re: foodyDudey

                              Like I said...reminds me of L.A.B., except this really works for me.

                              Our desert was like a super dense coffee cake with roasted apple and candied muesli on top. The whole thing was covered with about 3 inches of whipped buttermilk, which I thought really worked. There were a few at our table who weren't as into it , but every bowl turned up empty.

                            2. re: dlw88

                              Finer/more refined pallette, you say? I assure that both of our palettes are sufficiently refined, thank you very much.

                              As you state: "It's nice to appreciate an entire dish as a whole, as well as the individual components on their own, along with their inter-connectedness and contrasts in flavour, texture, and temperature." Hence our review commented on the overall experience in detail, including the fact that the chiducken was cold and tough and that the flavours on the plate didn't tie together. We also noted that the honey with the "turnips" (a concern for another poster) was necessary to tie the dish together but was elusive to the diner.

                              I actually agree that the spinach leaf was a refreshing palette cleanser. But, even after asking what we'd been served, we knew nothing more than for certain than that there had been a spinach leaf on the plate. The salt/crackle dust could have been the ground horn of the elusive red unicorn and we would have been none the wiser. Knowing what one is eating adds to the experience - at least for those like us with a "finer palette" - hence the need for better explanation as a dish is being served and most certainly when there is a specific question about a dish. A tasting menu shouldn't be a guessing game.

                              You'll also note that at least half of our concerns related to failings in service and the lack of concern for our disappointment at their mistakes, something you didn't comment on at all. There is clearly some talent in the ktichen, but if the tasting menu is going to show off the strength of the kitchen, the front house has to be up for its side of the experience. This place needs to figure out what it wants to be and run with it.

                              1. re: dineamicduo

                                seeing as the menu was meant to be a late night menu only and only expanded to more unexpectedly (as per the article posted above from the grid), i wouldn't expect the fine dining type service that you seem to expect.. not to mention the place seems more like a bar really (also as explained by the original intent of having a late night menu only), and the fact that it's only $35 (veg) or $45 (meat) for the 4 course prix fixe tasting menu (not exactly fine dining prices).

                                my server was very friendly and i thought service was perfectly fine. i appreciated that the chefs came out to serve the menu items, and knowing they probably cook because they love to cook and that not everyone who loves to cook enjoy customer service or are suited to that role, i didn't expect them to be the perfect gracious hosts that you expected. as long as they cook a decent meal for me, i am happy. i also appreciated the free little apps that came out (i'm not going to complain about the spinach leaf - it was FREE and a nice surprise that i was happy to gobble up).

                                since the focus has switched a bit more to the food (i assume this was unexpected, based on the original plans for the place), i would expect it to be a little rough around the edges right now.

                                if i wanted fine dining service, i would go to a place where one would expect that (with mains costing $20+). why expect that here?

                                1. re: helenhelen

                                  I don't think fine dining service is necessary. Just slightly more attentive. In my own experience here I found the service to be very disorganized, if not disinterested. Casual service can still be held to a high standard. And should be.

                                  1. re: haggisdragon

                                    Sounds about right. I agree wholeheartedly with the statement by a previous poster that they don't know what they want to be. I won't be returning.

                        2. re: dineamicduo

                          Ate there on Friday and had a similar so-so experience.

                          First, when we got there at about 6:10 or so we were the only ones there (even though it opens at 5:30), and after seating us at the bar (which was somewhat inconvenient, since the only place to hang your coat was on hooks under the bar, meaning that long coats drag on the floor) and taking our drink orders (only two beers on tap, Steigl and some sort of Bock...not my favourites), the wait staff basically just hung out in a group in the back of the restaurant chatting. We finally managed to flag someone down and put in our orders (two of the meat tasting menus).

                          The meal started with a ridiculous number of amuses...the aforementioned spinach leaf on a plate (which I thought was pretty tasty, mainly because of the red salt which had an interesting sweet/roasted sort of taste), some other cheese on a cracker (also good), a small cup of (I think) parsnip (or turnip?) soup (quite good), and something else on a small carrot round (meh). They ranged from just okay to quite good, so we were off to a good start.

                          The next course was the turnip, and as mentioned above it was quite bland without the honey to tie it together. As I was eating it I mentioned that fact to my wife, and her response was: "what honey?". They had forgotten to add the honey to her dish. When we pointed that out they took the dish away and squirted some on which was fine, but it was just somewhat amusing that the ingredient that tied the whole thing together was missing. Even my dish could have used more of the honey.

                          The next dish was the trout, which I really enjoyed. The hazelnuts went really well with the bok choy and the crispy skin. Definitely the highlight of the night for me.

                          The next dish was the violet chicken (identified as such on the menu - no confusing chicken/duck issues), which, while nicely cooked, was really fairly one-note. The chicken was moist and the skin wrapper was nice, but I couldn't taste anything violet-y (or anything other than chicken) other than perhaps some pickled spears of something like carrot. It was my wife's favourite dish, though, so it gets points for that.

                          The dessert was the real let down. As described, it was a large bowl of off-tasting yogurt (buttermilk, apparently) over some dense cake and muesli. The buttermilk overwhelmed the rest of the dish...not appetizing. Agreed that there should be far less buttermilk and perhaps served on the side. Too big, also (to her credit the waitress did ask if I'd liked it when I only ate a few bites).

                          All in all, I was disappointed after the rave reviews I read on here. I'll probably give it another chance because I think the food had style and the price point was good, but if it continues to be hit and miss (with a bit more miss than hit), my second visit will be my last.

                        3. Went to YT on St Pattys day. When we arrived at 8:30 on Sat, the place was 100% packed, even the bar was buckling at the seams, and the hostess told us that this is pretty normal for them. The room was very loud, but I was at least happy that the tables weren't too close to one another which I dislike even MORE than loud restaurants.
                          Service was very friendly. Our server (and the food runners) were very knowledgeable about the food, giving me lots of in depth details as I asked. Getting drinks was a little bit slow though, probably because of the load at the bar, but other than that, the service ran fairly smoothly and efficiently.
                          With regards to drinks, we tried the Rare Earth (Bourbon, Fernet, Rhubarb Bitters, Honey) and the Cibelle (Cachaca, Sencha, Lemongrass, Lime, House Bitters). Both of us preferred the smooth, brightness of the Cibelle and found the Rare Earth a little too strong. Though, I am not a fan of bourbon in general, so maybe others would feel differently.
                          Now, the way it works at YT is that they offer a pre-fix menu (meat=45$, veg=35$), and also a snack menu which can be ordered alone or to supplement the tasting menus. We were both really blown away by the low prices, so we splurged and got ourselves a "small plate" of
                          Thuet bread with whipped duck fat and crispy shallots. This was a warm, generous portion of fresh bread, with a slightly smokey and salty spread. As the evening went on, the candle light semi-melted the duck fat so that it too was warm and I could just dip the bread into it. Yum.
                          Next came a variety of amuse bouches including:
                          Carrot soup and Lobster Bisque, both in tiny jam jars- Loved both of them and wished they were offered as full courses. The carrot soup was slightly sweet and creamy, and the bisque had a really rich smoky tomato flavour.
                          Potato chips with Sour Cream Dill dip- Chips were a little over done for me, but I liked the dip ( ha, it tasted like that store bought ruffles chip dip).
                          Trout tartar with fried shallots on a (I forget which type of) edible leaf- Nice flavour on the trout and the shallots gave a nice crunch to counter the very soft tartar. Wasn't crazy about the leaf though. It just wasn't as delicate as I would have liked for a single bite (required too much chewing to break through it).
                          Then we got our first course which (for both of us was) described as:
                          Pumpkin: eggplant, quinoa, yogurt and buckwheat- This was probably my favourite course of the night. It was a pumpkin layer and yogurt layer bavois (like a panna cotta type terrine), with a creamy eggplant sauce, quinoa and a buckwheat strusel, garnished with cilantro and nistertion leafs. Light and flavourful, and I really loved the smoothness of the bavois against the crunchy buckwheat and the semi-chewy quinoa.
                          Next, each of us got a different dish because we ordered one veg and one meat menu, so we tried:
                          Trout: sawtooth, onion, a choy, mussel curry- The trout here was cooked perfectly with a super crispy skin, and I loved the rich curry sauce that it sat on. The accompanying a choy (like a lettuce), sawtooth (an herb, kind of like cilantro), and pea eggplants (baby eggplants that look like pea) were all interesting accompaniments, and I applaud the chef for using ingredients that you don't see very often, however, I don't know that I really liked their flavour. Those eggplants specifically were very bitter and hard- just not for me.
                          Onsen Tamago: grilled rice, spinach, mushroom, potato dashi- This was a beautifully poached egg, with delicious mushrooms, spinach and crispy rice that was served in a very aromatic dashi stock. I think this was a more interesting course than mine, and I especially loved that crispy grilled rice.
                          Pork: romaine, beet, gnocchi, horseradish, anchovy- The pork here was cooked perfectly, and nearly melted in my mouth. The blanched romaine and the roasted beet were fine, but nothing spectacular, but the star of this dish for me were the super light ricotta gnocchi which were made with dill, horseradish and anchovy. They were incredibly airy and had a really interesting herbacious flavour that added an interesting savoury note to this dish in contrast with the sweet beet.
                          Root Vegetables: raw, pickled, wheat berry, brown butter- This was a dish of sous vide carrots with a sunchoke garlic puree and a coriander parsley puree, with apple, and toasted wheat berries. This was another interesting vegetarian dish, that yet again used that delicious technique of getting grains nice and crispy. I normally don't love coriander but this puree was really delicious, and was so thick and concentrated, it looked almost like paint. My only complaint here would be that if I were a vegetarian and I chose the veg meal, I probably wouldn't have felt very satisfied as there weren't any proteins (beans, lentils etc) offered on the veg menu. Just veg and grains.
                          Almond: panna cotta, meringue, tapioca, sichuan pepper, lychee- Now, I can't say I'm a huge panna cotta fan. Honestly, I just don't like desserts set with gelatin, so this dish wasn't that exciting to me. It was a slice of panna cotta garnished with lychees and tapioca balls and garnished with a very light almond meringue cookie. If the sichuan pepper was in there, I didn't taste it, as the dish kind of tasted very one note to me. Sweet and watery, unfortunately.

                          Now, I would probably say that tonight's menu wasn't 100% my style, and that is the reason for my criticism. Despite this, my dining partner absolutely loved his meal, and we both left feeling like it was a light, refreshing meal (probably because we didn't have any heavy caramel laden cakes or foie gras). The quality here really is amazing considering the low price, and for that reason, I would return again when the menu caught my eye.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: hungryabbey

                            Was the whipped duck fat you dipped your bread in as light as caramel laden cakes or foie gras? ;)

                            1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                              Ha. But my dipping was so dainty... it didn't count! :)

                            2. re: hungryabbey

                              thanks for the review!

                              as a vegetarian, i don't feel like i need proteins at every meal and don't eat that way in general, even when cooking for myself. as long as you have some during the day (not necessarily the same meal), you're okay. i'd rather just have delicious food. also, grains have protein as well (though not as much as pulses, of course).

                              i love that yours truly offers vegetarians a real menu of creative food.. not just the usual boring pasta or uninteresting veggies or salad we get way too often at other places.

                              1. re: helenhelen

                                Then this would be a good spot for you. I do agree, that while light, the vegetarian items were at least very interesting (more so than the meat, in my opinion)

                            3. Just had dinner at Yours Truly for the first time. Considering the pedigree of the chef, I was very excited that I was finally going to get to try his food. Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to love the food, I didn't love my meal.

                              While the individual components were expertly prepared, I felt no connection between them. As Top Chef Canada judge Mark McEwan would say, the dishes were disjointed. There were some good flavours and excellent execution but I was ultimately disappointed. Having dined at Per Se, Alinea, wd-50 and the like, I was expecting a wow experience. What I got was perfectly prepared, not-so-wow food. I thought the fish was so perfectly cooked but the foam on top tasteless. i thought the duck was delicious and the brown butter yogurt sauce fantastic but not necessarily together. And so on.

                              I've had dinner at both Buca and Beast within the last month or so and I found the dishes at both restaurants to be more enjoyable. The execution was not as perfect but the dishes were more delicious and satisfying. Yours Truly has all the skill behind it to be a great restaurant but it isn't yet.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: chefhound

                                I agree.

                                The food was smart (someone in back was really using their noggin) and very well executed- a very competent meal. It wasn't excellent, though, with none of those "you have to come here and try this!" moments.

                                Wouldn't run to go back, but I would go back.

                                1. re: chefhound

                                  Try the under $50 multi-course menus at Alinea, Per Se and wd-50 and compare them directly with Yours Truly!
                                  Does the chef have a pedigree? - I heard he left his last place 'by mutual consent' - and I wasn't aware of him before that.
                                  Fair enough to compare with Buca and Beast - glad you enjoyed them - at both I pay around 50% more for a meal than at Yours Truly.
                                  I find the cooking more accomplished at Buca - just hate the noise there. Beast is probably comparable in terms of size and sense of intimacy - but the menu is less creative - probably because they have one! At Yours Truly I find wild inconsistencies but a more cohesive philosophy - food is patchy - but what exactly do you expect from a 4-course meal priced at $45 ($35 for veggie)?

                                  1. re: estufarian

                                    I don't quibble the price - it's a very good price for a 4-course meal in a restaurant of that calibre. And I don't have a problem with the quality of ingredients or the skill of preparation. For $45, the quality, quantity and preparation of the food is amazing. It's just the combination of flavours.

                                    And I don't mention Per Se and Alinea because I'm comparing them to Yours Truly - I mention them because the chef has worked at those restaurants, along with a host of other extremely well-respected places. That is a very high pedigree in the chef world - he worked at Noma for god's sake! For a chef with that lineage, I guess I was expecting magic. For me the skill was there but the flavours didn't work for me.

                                    I just mention Buca and Beast because those are the restaurants where I've most recently enjoyed really great meals - where the flavours really worked. I'm don't mean to compare them based on value/price range.

                                    1. re: chefhound

                                      I believe he may have done unpaid stages(or claims to have done) at some of those three ( he's not mentioned on chef database at ANY of those three places) - yet also fails to mention his previous stint at Scarpetta. But hey - that's marketing - if I've eaten at Per Se, Alinea and Noma does that make my reviews better than someone else's?
                                      And most of the staging is done through 'contacts' rather than auditions - the ex-lunch chef de cuisine from Per Se has been at Noma for two years now.

                                      In Toronto, it would be harder to find a more respected chef than Jamie Kennedy - how many people must have worked for him over the years? And how many of those have gone on to run successful restaurants? OK the question was rhetorical.

                                      Maybe I just got out of bed the wrong side this morning - I have a beef(!) about so many good neighbourhood places in Toronto being raved about as culinary revelations; combined with unrealistic expectations for these same neighbourhood places. Toronto Life did a disservice with its review (and ratings) for Yours Truly - I probably should have taken it up with them.

                                      It's a good place with a few problems - both Beast and Buca are also good (not great!). Regardless of where the chefs worked! I wish them all well - Toronto needs these mid-level places where value is (generally) received.

                                      The fish (trout) I had at Yours Truly was perhaps the best piece of fish I've had in a year (in Toronto). I failed to finish two separate desserts there! Flavours at Buca have been really good (I agree) - at Beast somewhat muddled (two visits in last 6 months). But, as always, the menu choice can result in wildly different opinions - even on the same night.

                                      1. re: estufarian

                                        I think I agree with you estufarian. Expectations for this place soared wildly. As I wrote above have only eaten there once, and then only from the bar/snack menu. I thought the savory dishes well executed but nothing incredible, and the dessert was simply a horrid misstep. Perhaps the single worst dish I had eaten at a restaurant in years.

                                        1. re: estufarian

                                          Another couple has recommended we try this place. The menu reminds me of EMP with the 4 x 4 single item grid. We also found EMP underpriced and that was at $125 for a four course with many amuse bouche.

                                          How flexible are they with the tasting, as my wife has some food issues.