Aloette (Toronto)

Aloette Toronto

If dining at Alo, Canada’s top restaurant for 2017, is unattainable (either financially or due to lack of reservations), their more affordable counterpart has opened on the first floor of the building. While Aloette looks like a diner, you’ll still experience luxurious touches such as the never-ending water glass, plush triple-ply toilet paper, and cloth towels in the washrooms. It’s a diner… with Chef Kriss’s touch.

You can’t visit a diner and not expect them to serve burgers. Aloette’s version ($18) is probably the most reviewed item from the menu. Post City informs us about the months of testing the team used to come up with the main, Amy Pataki lets us in on the aged beef fat added to the patty, and BlogTO raves about the soft toasted bun. Indeed, the bun is good: well toasted, even on the outside, and that soft sweet version that doesn’t have a grain in sight.

During our dinner, the beef patty was not the typical medium, but still tender, juicy, and so flavourful on account of the beef fat. The fixings were of course refined: a thick layer of buttery Beaufort cheese, finely shredded lettuce, stringy onion, and a thick Russian mayonnaise. I only wish it came with tomatoes to balance out the salty richness of the burger.

For a real treat, upgrade to the Aloette fries ($6 with the burger or $9 on its own), which is smothered with smoked Gouda, hot sauce, and jus. There aren’t many fries that can compete with poutine in my books, but I love the spicy smoky kick of these.  

Despite all the press for their burgers, it’s the roasted pork ($20) that really impressed. The pork belly is cooked so beautifully that with every bite the creamy fat and juices covers the month, while the meat has a nicely grilled crust without being hard. While other restaurants tend to pair pork belly with a sweet glaze, I loved the stronger savoury flavours used at Aloette: spicy ‘nduja, briny olives, and grilled lemon to help cut the fattiness.

With a side of Brussels sprouts ($9), you could really make a complete meal of the roasted pork. Here there is the sweet element from the maple syrup, and the added walnut pieces and mustard kick makes for interesting touches to the side. They were a bit soft for my taste and since all the other dishes are already so well-seasoned, it would have been nice to have a dish that’s plainer to balance the heaviness. Even if it weren’t the Brussels sprouts, a simple tossed olive oil and balsamic spring mix salad would be nice.

Not surprisingly, their mac & cheese ($14) is delicious. Within the hot skillet are long tubes of pasta that holds the creamy cheddar sauce and is covered with melted parmesan. If you can hold off on devouring the complimentary toasted cheese brioche, you can use the bread to wipe up any of the remaining heavenly béchamel sauce.

The menu contains plenty to munch on including a cone of fried smelts ($11). If you’re afraid they’ll be fishy, at Aloette they’re well-cleaned, headless, and deboned. The light flour batter is relatively well-seasoned on its own and for extra flavour there’s a jalapeno, artichoke, and lemon aioli dip that could use a bit more heat.

Dessert includes two options with the lemon meringue pie ($10) having a take-home version as well. The height of the pie is certainly impressive, but with the larger size you really need to make sure every bite contains both elements. Together it makes for a decent dessert, but on its own the super sugary meringue and tart lemon curd can be a bit jarring.

Unlike most diners, the portion sizes at Aloette is fairly small. However, since everything is rich you’ll feel full and it’s best to share dishes to avoid having too much of a good thing. Just don’t think about going with more than four people, with their no reservation policy and limited seating arrangements (diner booths and bar stools), it’d be difficult to find a table.

Even if there’s a wait, tables turn over fairly quickly – our “three-course meal” still had us out of there in just over an hour. Plus, with a glass of wine, my portion of the tab was just over $50 (inclusive of taxes and gratuities); Aloette is affordable enough that I can keep returning to, for more roasted pork, of course.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 163 Spadina Avenue

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!

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