CLOSED: Core Restaurant (Toronto)

Some time ago, I've lost my desire to go out for Summerlicious and Winterlicious meals. Once an exciting time of pursuing menus, gathering groups of friends, and securing reservations, some later experiences were disappointing and seemed too commercial. Yet, after seeing Core show up on two "Summerlicious menus you have to try" lists and actually seeing the tasty sounding dishes the $43 dinner had to offer, I rounded up a group of girls to give Summerlicious another chance.

Walking into the restaurant, things felt different. Core is smaller, so it felt warm and intimate. Service was definitely not a problem as they even paid attention to my always there request on Open Table and tried to accommodate to the best of their ability. Everyone we encountered that evening - hostess, sommelier, and waiter – were warm, friendly, and inviting. They also didn't leave anything out of the experience, still providing diners a large slice of their very airy and crusty house made sourdough bread.

Within the appetizers, the pork belly certainly sounded enticing, and having had a taste of my friend's, did have crispy well-rendered skin and moist meat. But, it’s the B.C. Albacore tuna crudo I ultimately ordered. Interestingly, the fish was cut in thick chunks, rather than thin slices, which helped retain its flavours against the mildly tangy citrus ponzu. The tuna was tender and flavourful and when combined with the chunks of sweet baby radishes and crunchy cucumbers made for a satisfying summer starter.

The duck two ways included two delicious pieces from the fowl:

  • Roasted breast cooked to about medium with crispy skin. While it could have been done a touch less, it was nonetheless moist and easy to cut through.
  • A large chunk of braised duck leg terrine, which was a tad salty with the duck jus but oh so tender. It’s like having a cube of pulled duck confit, just as amazingly tasty as it sounds.

If you’re fond of duck, it’s definitely the dish to order. Even though the braised cherries and heirloom carrots accompanying the dish sounded like it'd be two sweet sides, the saltier duck jus kept everything savoury and the sides went well with the fowl.

Dinner ended with the espresso panna cotta served tiramisu style, a rich espresso jelly topping the creamy base so you really get a hit of the coffee flavour. I wasn’t a huge fan of the crumble used as a garnish, but it’d be nice for those who want a contrasting texture.

Thanks to Core, I have a renewed interest in the Summer/Winterlicious series. You just have to be selective and try the less known restaurants. The little guys sometimes does it best. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10
Is Summerlicious worth it (based on my meal selection)?
Summerlicious - $43
Regular menu - $56 - tuna ($16), duck duo ($30) and panna cotta ($10)
Savings - $13 or 23%
How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 896 Queen Street East

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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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