Toronto, ON M5V 3G7
TOCA, the headlining restaurant in the Ritz Carlton, is redefining luxury dining in the city and setting a new standard for restaurants to come. The name is a whimsical take on Toronto, Canada, and there’s nothing fussy about that. The chef, Tom Brodi, formerly of Canoe, could write a thesis on Canadian fare. The climb to the second floor room is via a grand staircase lit with red blown-glass chandeliers. The bread baskets resemble shiny, red, miniature '70s lounge chairs. All right, it’s more fun than understated, but these little accents add interest to an elegant and neutral room. It’s still sophisticated but not stiff. Then the food: The Canadiana experience begins on the West Coast with a B.C. spot prawn Caesar. The foie gras with maple cotton candy is crazy fun. The precision on the crust shows Brodi's patina, and the foie centre is sublime. Fluffy cotton candy orbs that melt on the tongue will leave you on the verge of ecstasy. Brodi’s take on traditional surf and turf has B.C. crab paired with marrow. The beef bone is hollowed out and used as a trough stuffed with crabmeat jazzed up with tarragon butter and marrow. Razor-thin fennel provides crisp contrast. TOCA feels special and that encapsulates Brodi’s creativity and precision. But wait! There's more! Go into the stunning cheese cave (one of only two in Toronto) in the middle of the dining room and be romanced by a passionate turophile who will give you a tour.