Ore of And/Ore (Toronto)

Read mainstream articles written about And/Ore and their two-in-one concept and stunning décor are well cited characteristics. With that in mind, I’m not going to rehash these details and instead focus on Ore, the restaurant located on the bottom floor of the building.

As you descend by elevator into the cavernous dining room, it gives off a haunting tunnel-like ambiance. It’s here they serve their 8-course tasting menu ($150) with an optional wine pairing ($80) that’s begins with a glass of champagne and ends with a cocktail (in our case, a floral espresso martini).

The starting bites were a hit and a miss. The hit being a crispy and creamy arancini adorned with aioli and truffle shavings that made for an amazing first taste. This was followed by the biggest miss of the evening, a fishy tasting piece of fluke that couldn’t even be saved by the grapefruit segments. I quickly chased this down with the tuille wonton topped with caviar, which would seem inventive if it weren’t for the off-putting taste still lingering in my mouth.

At least the Timbit sized bread was as delicious as it looked: hot, soft, and buttery… three words that all milk bread should aspire to achieve.

Beautifully caramelized, the scallop was just cooked through and sat in a delicious lettuce and leek oil sauce. At first glance, the sheer number of hazelnuts and diced pear seemed excessive, but somehow worked. In fact, for someone who dislikes nuts and fruit on savoury things, I really enjoyed the dish.

Our table unanimously declared the maitake as our favourite item. The mushroom was cooked perfectly taking on a meaty feel. The celeriac base held a hint of curry, but the entire dish mellowed with a splash of vinegar. The only miss was the unfortunate wine pairing, which I can only describe as “salon-like” with its aroma of perming solution and soapy floral taste.

Chef Missy Hui should consider leaning more towards a “vegetable first” menu as she does meatless dishes beautifully. The roasted honeynut squash looked plain but was flavourful in a bright refreshing manner. Who would have known salsa verde could be a great compliment for root vegetables? And I love how she brushed the shiso leaf with egg white, rather than dipping it in tempura, to create a crispy but not oily bite.

The salmon was poached to a medium doneness, so it was juicy and tender. And while I enjoyed the cucumber and green tomato garnishes, I can’t help but feel it was missing something. A grain of some sort, whether it be couscous to keep it light or a risotto to make it hearty would be appreciated.

Generally, I find sorbet palette cleansers to be too sour or sweet. At Ore, their pear sorbet was fantastic with a hint of nuttiness and a cold pop from the semi-frozen green grape. Can I get another one of these with dessert?

Boy did the short rib smell amazing glazed in a lemongrass (?) and soy demi glace. And while the sauce was a tad salty, it did fully permeate the chunk of tender beef. Yet, it was the fluffy smoked potato dumpling that stole the show for me. You can’t go wrong with meat and potatoes.

When I heard their dessert was Black Forest cake, childhood memories of disappointing birthday celebrations flooded my mind. Luckily, Ore’s rendition was good, incorporating a moist chocolate cake and Amarena cherries that had its sweetness balanced with bourbon. Ultimately, it was the dark chocolate ganache that really helped bring it all together… maybe this cake has redeemed itself.

Ore’s petit fours were a welcomed ending. While the rum baba needed more liquor to not taste like a profiterole, I enjoyed the bite along with the soft chewy macaron and micro chocolate truffle.

Sitting in the cave-like environment, I couldn’t help but get sleepy, especially as our meal went past the 3-hour mark. Ore attempted to keep us awake by blasting music, which was too loud for the enclosed low ceiling environment. As much as I enjoyed the unique dining room, increasing the meal’s pace and decreasing the music’s volume are some small changes Ore could implement. 

In a nutshell... 
  • Must order (if given the choice): maitake and scallop
  • Just skip: fishy small bites

Overall mark - 7 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1040 Queen St West

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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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