Showing posts with label arrabiata. Show all posts
Showing posts with label arrabiata. Show all posts

12 Tables (Toronto)

Google classifies 12 Tables as an Italian restaurant, which to be fair makes up the majority of the dishes on their menu. However, in speaking to the owner, she noted the restaurant is actually European; in fact, they chose to use a generic name (12 Tables) so they can showcase many nationalities. The husband and wife duo has experience with the culinary industry - back in Poland they owned six restaurants, each offering a different type of cuisine. After arriving in Canada, they decided to focus on one restaurant but still prepare an array of dishes.

Despite 12 Tables’ informal atmosphere, dinners start with an amuse bouche and end with a lemon sorbet to cleanse the palette between the mains and dessert. The amuse bouche changes, on one visit a tasty bite of roasted beet with a creamy avocado mascarpone dressing and another a piece of seared beef. Both arrive with warm soft bread that they bake daily in-house. All this makes for a labour intensive day, no wonder they’re only opened for dinner!

Save some bread if you order the beef tartare ($19) as it doesn’t arrive with crostini. Even with the bread, the dish takes getting used to as the soft tartare against soft bread isn’t the greatest combination (even with a slight crunch from the raw onions). Aside from having something crunchy to spread it on, I’d also prefer the beef cut into bigger pieces so it doesn’t resemble pulverized meat. Regardless, the flavours were spot on and the onions a great addition.

For a crowd, the signature antipasto for two ($27) is a good option with a changing assortment of cured meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The salty cured meat and cheeses are good, but what really stood out were the hunks of grilled eggplant slathered in a garlic dill sauce, juicy sticks of marinated beets, and the large pieces of pickled artichoke. In fact, I wish they offered a vegetarian version of the antipasto platter as the vegetables were definitely the highlight.

12 Tables calls out on their menu, the fact the carbonara ($19) contains no cream. I can understand why, with all the aged cheese, bacon, and parmesan, it tastes like a really rich creamy pasta. Personally, I would have liked more black pepper to help balance the flavours and a splash of stock to thin out the sauce. But, I guess most people who order carbonara craves a dish that’s sinful and hearty, this definitely fits the bill. 

On the other hand, the arrabiata ($19) is the complete opposite. The dish is filled with al dente penne tossed with a thick tomato sauce that has such a delicious angry bite. Given it’s a smaller portion and lighter, you’ll want to add on a heartier appetizer if you get this as a main. The baked eggplant ($16) is a great choice. Two big thick slices of grilled eggplant sandwiching gorgonzola cheese studded with grape tomatoes and smothered with tomato sauce. All together it’s a creamy combination and the lighter blue cheese, which normally isn’t an ingredient I enjoy, pairs well with the earthy eggplant and tangy sauce. Although, if I had the option to substitute the gorgonzola for mozzarella or ricotta, I’d still make the switch.

Yet, my favourite pasta has got to be the frutti di mare ($27) and will be my go-to order during weekends. The linguine is done perfectly and tossed in a chunky tomato and onion sauce filled with seafood: three large prawns, a plump scallop, a passable section of crab leg, calamari rings, clams, and tons of mussels! Best yet the seafood was not overdone and cooked with the sauce to really infuse it with the seafood essence. 

Most of the starters and mains we tried still leaned heavily towards an Italian heritage. Their desserts is where it expands into different European territories, with a small but varied selection: strawberry pavlova, chocolate soufflé, a tart, and gelato. Excited for the soufflé ($12) what actually arrives would generally be considered a molten lava cake. While it was a very good rendition of the dessert – hot, rich, and filled with chocolate flavour without being sugary – the molten centre isn’t the same as an airy soufflé.

They’re a great neighbourhood restaurant, the service outstandingly friendly. My husband, who worked in Europe for a couple of years, noted it did remind him of the restaurants he visited while travelling around. At the end of the meal, they even offered us a shot of lemoncello or Zoladkowa Gorzka (an herby orange liqueur), a digestive to start the digestion process.

I urge the chef to expand the menu to include more non-Italian dishes, something from Poland would be great! Until then, I’ll be returning to enjoy the seafood pasta, with a shot of Zoladkowa Gorzka, which ends the meal with a warm fuzzy feeling.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1552 Avenue Road

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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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