Tucked away in the heart of the city at 90 Avenue Road, Chefs Ben Heaton and Brent Maxwell‘s authentic eatery is picking up steam. Close your eyes, take in the aromas and your first few bites and you’ll feel like you’re at an elegant dinner on a Greek hillside or a by the sea in Alicante.
Walking in, it’s easy to envision the garden patio abuzz until the late hours of a summer evening. From the valet’s greeting and our experienced and attentive waiter, to the chef who popped out of the kitchen to present our charcuterie plate, there is warmth present that is passionate and genuine. Only fitting, we’d say for a coastal inspired restaurant, named for the Greek goddess of the hearth.
Now back to the good stuff — our charcuterie plate, not officially on the menu, is a pleasant mix of Nduja and meats cured in their in-house charcuterie fridge. Crackers seasoned with sumac flowers from around the city are an excellent pairing. House halloumi, made with cow’s milk is served with warm truffle-infused honey and roasted grapes make a delightful sweet yet savoury, melt-in-the-mouth appetizer. Completed by an extensive selection of wine, the night is getting off to an excellent start.
Heaton’s team prepares us a fresh whole fish, killed Japanese Ikejime style – chef feel’s it’s not only more humane but a gentler way to preserve the texture, taste and colours. Seasonings range from olive oil, sea salt, and chermoula. And, yes…we’re back on the sunny Mediterranean coast from our mouthwatering first bite,
For a fabulous finish… it’s a toss-up between the Kataifi Tart that boasts a smooth semolina custard with pistachio, almonds, walnuts and cardamom and the Turkish Coffee Meringue. We go for one of each and who can resist a scoop or two of the Goats Milk and Salted Whey Caramel ice cream.
If you’re fortunate enough to get a jewel toned velvet booth as we did, near the back of the restaurant you can peek through the picture window into the kitchen and watch the chef’s brigade work it’s magic. There’s also the fun of watching the comings and goings at the wood-fired oven and charcoal grill which helps give most dishes their rustic smokiness.
At a glance:
Estia: 90 Avenue Road, Toronto. www.estiatoronto.com/
Definitely a crowd pleaser.
Food is tasty, dare I say healthy. Service is excellent. A great spot for date night, family dinner or catching up with friends.