CLOSED: Boralia (Toronto)

Boralia, wine

Boralia features Canadian cuisine without being kitschy - there's no wooden log or beaver in sight.  Instead, the Canadian theme is focused on the menu which is composed of dishes from the 18th and 19th centuries. From delicious wild game that the Aboriginal enjoyed to the pigeon pie of early settlers, the dishes are different but still approachable. Boralia also celebrates Canada’s diversity by featuring Chinese chopsuey croquettes, Polish pierogies and the Austrian linzer torte; reminding us of all the cultures that contributes to the Canadian landscape.

Their l’eclade ($15) is probably the most photographed given the impressive presentation of being brought tableside in a cloche of smoke. As the lid is lifted, the pine needle smoke slowly escapes permeating the table with a forest smelling smoke.

Boralia e'clade or mussels

When the smoke dissipates what remains is a delicious bowl of mussels. Its meat is tender and silky, while the broth has a hint of creaminess from the butter but is relatively light and tangy. Despite being encapsulated in smoke, there’s no char taste in the mussels so its natural sweetness comes through.

Boralia e'clade or mussels

On the side, they suggest ordering some of the red fife levain bread with cultured butter ($3). The slightly warm spongy dense bread is perfect for soaking up the cooking liquid.

Boralia bread

One of my favourite dishes of the night was the pan roasted elk ($15). The lean meat was prepared rare to allow it to retain its tenderness. There was no gaminess to it, yet doesn’t remind you of beef … after all, its elk and should taste different.

Boralia elk

In the centre sits a wild rice crusted egg, which when cut through oozes onto the plate and mixes in with the cranberry gastrique and burnt onion puree. The crust goes quite nicely with the liquid yolk and has a sweet nuttiness to it. Crunchy paper thin radish slices and a pieces of tender braised turnip round out the dish.

Boralia elk

Their pan roasted trout ($17) was moist with a thin crispy skin. Being a milder and less fatty fish it went well with the sweet Iroquois popcorn grits. The salad of thinly sliced heirloom carrots and parsnips dressed in birch syrup vinaigrette was also light and refreshing. This is a wonderful dish for the warmer weather.

Boralia trout

Thankfully, the lighter trout came before the rich pigeon pie ($23). The golden brown crust was so flaky yet rolled thinly enough that it didn’t become too heavy. Chunky pieces of tender pigeon, potatoes, carrots and other vegetables were packed into the pie within a light gravy.

Boralia pigeon pie

But what stole my tastebuds were the succulent pieces of lean roasted squad breast on the side. Boralia seriously does meat well with a quick sear and light seasoning so that the meat's flavour profile shines through. In all, dishes are artfully presented and constructed to offer different tastes and textures while relying on natural ingredients.

Boralia pigeon pie

The caramelized onion and potato pierogies ($13) were large and a great combination of thin outer crispy crust and a generous filling. The crispy onions topping it went so well with it that I wish there was more of it to balance out the smooth stuffing. After the heavier pigeon pie and pierogie the crispy sauerkraut on the bottom contained just the right amount of sourness to provide a refreshing quality to everything.

Boralia pierogies

At Boralia, there’s no maple syrup with snow desserts. But, their Louisbourg hot chocolate beignets ($9) sure did hit the spot. Unlike other beignets that tend to serve the sauce on the side, at Boralia the ganache is piped into the centre and oozes out like a molten lava cake. The darker chocolate, paired with the beer batter dough and lemon sugar ensures the dessert isn’t overly sweet.

Boralia beignets

But, it could have been flipped in the fryer more liberally as I found for a couple of pieces, although mostly golden and crispy, contained spots which were pale and doughy.  

Boralia beignets

So, what will I say next time someone asks what Canadian cuisine is all about? It’s about the abundance of delicious proteins we have from the elk and squab found on land or the fish and mussels of the sea. Or the wonderful dishes that gets invented when different cultures collide. And although our climate doesn’t provide any tropical fruits, there are many delicious root vegetables and corn which is just a juicy and sweet.

Boralia is a place you should bring out-of-country visitors who appreciate good food. Although they won’t be eating in the former tallest free standing building, they will learn that Canadian cuisine is filled with delicious fresh ingredients and goes beyond beaver tails and poutine. After all, isn’t the diverse offerings and approachable nature of our cuisine which really represents the Canadian culture so well?
As an aside, you may notice in the title photo that their name is spelt “Borealia” and on various sites such as Urbanspoon and Instagram that’s also how it’s found. There’s no confusion amongst the community. Originally, the restaurant was opened as “Borealia”, which happened to be the name of another restaurant. So, to avoid trademark issues they have had to drop the “e” and the name morphed to “Boralia”. So, if you’re searching “Boralia” and there are no results, try the first spelling and you may find what you’re looking for. 
Overall mark - 9 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 59 Ossington Avenue

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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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