Alobar Yorkville (Toronto)

After opening the best restaurant in Canada and one of the fanciest diners in Toronto, what else can Chef Patrick Kriss do? He’s stepped out of their Queen West building and into Yorkville where the newest edition, Alo Bar, resides. Somewhere in between the tasting menu and casual eats spectrum, Alo Bar offers an a la carte menu with fancier dishes in a cozy dark environment.

As with all of their restaurants, you’ll be served fantastic bread. At Alo Bar, a cube of buttery brioche that’s so fluffy and aromatic that no condiments are needed. Even the hunks of sourdough that comes with the burrata ($16) is dangerously delicious, well grilled so it gives off a lovely smokiness amongst a liberal drizzle of olive oil. It’s so good that it almost steals the show. 

Nevertheless, the burrata is comforting, sitting in a pool of vibrant olive oil with figs done two ways – fresh and preserved in mustard oil, which is a delicious compliment with the neutral cheese and toasted bread.

For a dish that’s normally lighter, Alo Bar’s tuna tartare ($24) can hold up against beef any day. The delicate fish is chopped into small pieces and when mixed with the seasonings, copious amounts of grated truffle, and chanterelles becomes a rich spread against the thin rice chips. 

With a variety of sides, many could work as starters. I could barely make out the shishito peppers ($10) under the salty cotija cheese and creamy garlic sauce with a dash of tajin (a Mexican pepper seasoning)… there’s seriously more toppings than peppers. If you’re not a fan of vegetables, I can see this side being a great option. For me, it was too overpowering. 

The French fries ($10) were thin and crispy and would have been perfect if they weren’t SO salty. The only way to neutralize the flavours was to dip it in the aioli to form a barrier against the salt and my tongue. If only I could actually taste the potatoes. 

Even the cauliflower ($12) was heavy, despite the menu describing it as being accompanied with grape, mint, and almond. The combination was covered with a sweet syrup and the cauliflower cut into such small pieces and so well roasted with oil that it almost seemed deep fried. By the middle of the mains, I was seriously craving something fresh.

Something like the wedge salad ($18) that came at the beginning of the meal would be nice. The fourme d’ambert dressing brings a taste of blue cheese, but it’s sweeter and milder. Bits of bacon are mixed into nutty grains that goes surprisingly well with the crunchy iceberg lettuce. For a seemingly simple salad, it tastes surprisingly complex.

Maybe it was just our menu choices, but we ordered everything that’s sinfully opulent. By itself, the agnolotti ($28) is already a fairly flavourful pasta - stuffed with a sweet potato, parmesan, and piquillo pepper mixture so there’s a sweet, savoury, and spicy element. This is then covered with a cream sauce that’s undeniably rich, reminding you why the dish is more French than Italian.

It seems like the Muscovy duck ($42) is dry aged, so the meat is gamier than normal. Yet, you almost need a stronger flavour to hold up against the star anise flavour, which gives it an earthy licorice taste. Personally, I preferred the duck plain since the breast was cooked beautifully with a crispy skin. Save the bites of salty confit leg with poached plum for the end.

Be sure to save room for dessert. Alo Bar’s chocolate cake ($14) arrives as a slab with beautiful layers, each bite dense, creamy, and chocolatey. It would be nice if the caramel ice cream was replaced with something stronger ... a coffee based ice cream with a hint of bitterness would be great with the chocolate cake.

The menu’s description of the cheesecake ($14) doesn’t do the dessert justice… after all, does one get excited over cheesecake with cherries? Yet, when the Basque-style cheesecake arrived, the brûlée exterior was so dark that we thought it was chocolate. Upon cutting into the sizeable cake, we're greeted with a white creamy interior. It’s a luscious cake that’s sweet and cheesy, the caramelized sugar crust going nicely with the sour cherry jam. If you only have room for a single dessert, I highly recommend this one.

After experiencing the magic of Alo and Aloette, it’s difficult not to have high expectations. While Alo Bar is good, I didn’t leave with that same sense of excitement. Nonetheless, it’s a good option in Yorkville and Alo Bar’s lounge atmosphere is ideal for a night out. Consequently, if you’re looking for a quiet romantic meal, the loud music with bass vibrating through the banquette may not be the best option. Of course, it’s Yorkville and the neighbourhood parties. Now, with rich indulgent dishes, Alo-style.

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 162 Cumberland Street

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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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