In Toronto with my parents visiting family and my Mom has the keen ability to sniff out the hottest places in town before we even arrive. Where do we head straight from the airport? Origin. From the minute I walk in, I am intoxicated by the décor, the energy radiating from each table and the warmth of the waiters, dark wood and exposed kitchen. It beckons me. I am home.
Where do I even begin? No reservation on a Saturday night = a place at the bar = Best. Night. Ever. The décor is dark, elusive and creatively authentic. Painted barbed wire mangled around a light, wisps of white netting ensconced around hanging lights. I love it here and never want to leave.
Reading the menu made me feel like a kid in a candy store. I wanted it all. We put our trust in our phenomenal bartender/waiter, Waseem, who was exceptional and never led us astray. Per his recommendation we started out with tostones (huge, fried plantains) + homemade guacamole. This was a flavor adventure in my mouth. The lemon essence in the guacamole was so pungent, so complementary of the flavorful plantains. Could it get any better? Oh yes, it could.
We dove into deviled eggs + gemolata + smoked bacon next. The crisp saltiness of the bacon coupled with commanding deviled eggs danced in my mouth as if they were two lovers having an affair.
Our adventure continued with the Bangkok beef salad + peanut + mint + mango + fried shallot + nam jim dressing. The flavors and textures of this dish put me in a trance. I pondered whether it would have been rude if I sipped the remainder of the dressing in the bowl and opted not to. I now regret it.
Our tongues danced around the Buffalo mozzarella + herbs +olive oil + toasted seeds and spices. The combination of flavors were so fresh, so stark, so seductive.
We then dove head first into the wokked & fried calamari + caramelized peanut sauce + pineapple. The thick strips of fresh calamari were drenched in batter, fried to perfection and then drowned in an Asian-inspired sauce bath and paired with succulent pineapple; the perfect partners in an elusive tango.
Clearly in heaven at this point, my tastebuds were sky rocketed to whatever is better than heavean when I bit into the Chinois duck wrap + pickled cucumber + hoison + Sriracha + sour cream. The spiciness of the Sriracha hits you like a ball out of left field and before you can scream, wow, you are struck with the cool pickled cucumber and sour cream that melts away the kick and the duck remains at the forefront of every bite.
We had read about the miso glazed black cod + soba noodle salad + ginger vinaigrette + miso broth. We were steered elsewhere on the menu, but the Chef sent over an order on the house. This pushed me over the edge into a blissful foodie coma.
I felt as if I were vacationing in Spain when I bit into the chorizo + manchego rice + poached egg + salsa verde + dried black olive. Truth be told, my least favorite dish of them all, but still fantastic. The poached egg and dried black olives made the dish.
We capped the evening off with caramelized brioche + walnut praline + honey yogurt sorbet. I'm not a dessert person but wow, wow, wow. While delicious on its own, I don't think the honey yogurt sorbet was completely complementary of the brioche. I would have been more happy with vanilla bean.
Each dish was showcased like a masterpiece on a complementary white dish. We never saw the same shaped dish twice.
As if the décor and exquisite food weren't enough. Our bartender/waiter kept us entertained and shared some house specialty shots with us throughout our food journey. Infused vodka, fresh fruits and tequila whipped cream. Yes, please! Amuse bouche has nothing on these shots.
I could never capture how fantastic this evening was. I am left speechless and craving more. We left with spoiled bellies, huge grins and a list of Toronto restaurant recommendations from the bartenders, although I kind of wish I could eat here every night.
Chef de Cuisine Steve Gonzalez, you have outdone yourself. Executive Chef + Owner, Claudio Aprile, let's open an Origin in Los Angeles. I can't live without it.
Origin. Toronto, Canada.