Toronto, ON M5S 2K7
These days, Food Dudes Inc. is a booming business. The company caters around 1,000 events per year from its massive kitchen in Toronto’s east end, resulting in millions of dollars of revenue per year. So it may seem strange that the owners have spent the last eight months and nearly half a million dollars setting up a 50-seat restaurant near Harbord and Spadina called Rasa.
But for co-owner and creative director Brent McClenahan, it’s not surprising at all.
“This is our passion project,” he says. “It’s about creating. It’s about taking something imaginary and making it real. That’s what life is about.”
The new restaurant is called Rasa, which basically translates to “essence” in Sanskrit. The space, formerly occupied by Momo’s, was completely gutted, and a series of structural repairs nearly doubled the projected construction budget. Now that the grueling renovation is complete, the restaurant is set to officially open next week.
Décor, spearheaded by Damon Snider of Type-D Living, is a mishmash of modern and rustic, with reclaimed wood complementing polished concrete floors and a glossy black bar top. Furniture was hand-built by Metropolis Living.
As for Rasa's cuisine, there is a sizeable menu (21 items) of snacks, mains and desserts that find cultural inspiration from around the globe. Food is taken care of by Food Dudes founder/executive chef Adrian Niman and his kitchen team, which is full of George Brown grads (including head chef Tyson Porcellato and sous chef Davin Shearer).
A take on the lobster roll ($13) sees butter-braised lobster stuffed into a squid ink brioche, while a deep-fried soft-shell crab (market price) is served on a buttermilk bun and stabbed through with a knife (for effect, of course). Grilled octopus ($24) is served with pork belly and a parsnip puree.
Signature cocktails were developed by Chanel Wood (formerly of Cold Tea and Rodney’s Oyster House), and front-of-house-duties are helmed by operating manager and partner Adam Minster.
“We’re a Toronto based company, so everything we do we keep it real to the city. It’s so diverse,” McClenahan says.