The city’s dining scene is slowly growing, according to the longtime guide.
(Bloomberg) — Toronto’s fine dining scene just got a little starrier, courtesy of Michelin Guide.
On Sept. 27, two additional restaurants were awarded stars in a glitzy ceremony at the Drake-designed club and concert venue History, a year after it launched in Toronto. That brought the total number of starred dining rooms in the city to 15.
The new additions are the Japanese spot Kappo Sato and the shoebox-sized Restaurant 20 Victoria.
Kappo Sato, which opened its doors in 2022, is run by chef Takeshi Sato, who came to Toronto from Japan to become chef for the Consulate General of Japan. His 12-course omakase, priced at C$360 ($266), includes wagyu beef, sashimi and rice cooked in a copper Hagama pot.
Restaurant 20 Victoria, located on a tiny downtown Toronto street that’s best known as a place to renew your government ID, emphasizes local produce and seafood. Chef Julie Hyde might serve such dishes as smoked beets with oyster cream and grilled fish with beurre blanc and eel crumble.
No new dining rooms were awarded more than one star on the 2023 list, leaving Sushi Masaki Saito as the only restaurant in Canada holding the distinction of two stars. That could change soon, however: Vancouver, the second Canadian city with a Michelin guide, will announce new rankings on Oct. 5. Currently, the West Coast city has eight one-starred restaurants.
“It’s super exciting,” says Chef Julie Hyde of her Restaurant 20 Victoria winning its first star. “But the focus is always on the people who come in and dine with us, and on the day-to-day to do the best that we can everyday.” As to what’s next: “I’m going back to the restaurant now to get back to work. There’s still orders to be placed tonight.”
Also making news this year was the announcement of two Green stars in Toronto. The Green award, which recognizes a dining team’s leadership in sustainable gastronomy, was given to Frilu, which already has a conventional star. At Frilu, chef John-Vincent Troiano sources produce from Willowolf Farm, which employs a no-till method (reducing soil disturbance). He has also installed a composting program that cycles the kitchen waste back to the farm.
White Lily Diner was given a Green star for using its organic, no-till farm and greenhouses to supply produce. It was also added to the Bib Gourmand value-for-money list.
Once again, popular spots such as chef Ron McKinlay’s Canoe and Prime Seafood Palace—run by chef Matty Matheson, co-star in The Bear—missed out on star ranking.
Who is and who isn’t recognized is always a hot-button topic with Michelin, especially when it comes to questions of diverse representation, be it culturally, regionally, or gastronomically.
“Who is guiding these inspectors?” says prominent local food writer Suresh Doss, questioning how only two new stars were awarded. “There were some names that were amazing like Puerto Bravo, a small Mexican Tampico style restaurant, that got a [Bib Gourmand] nod and probably benefited the most out of all the restaurants named. Somehow an inspector found that. Can we multiply that by at least five times?”
“Toronto isn’t just one pocket. And Michelin needs to understand that,” he adds referring to areas of the city that make up the Greater Toronto Area, GTA as it’s locally known as.
Chef Eric Robertson of the prominent Restaurant Pearl Morissette, which is based in the Niagara region of Ontario and listed as one of Canada’s top five on most such lists, hopes Michelin will expand its radius soon. “I was not expecting it this year. You kind of feel like you’re on the sidelines a little bit, but that being said, we know the workings of it and that we won’t be included. But we come here to support our fellow chefs.”
To produce the guide, Michelin partnered with Destination Toronto, Destination Ontario and Destination Canada for “promotional, marketing, and communication strategies,” with monetary considerations surrounding the partnership undisclosed. The organizations have revealed that they started working together two years before the pandemic.
“Since the inaugural selection in Toronto last year, we have seen and felt the momentum grow in this culinary community,” said the guide’s international director, Gwendal Poullennec, in a statement.
The addition of freshly starred dining rooms is good news for Toronto. According to data from the restaurant platform OpenTable, in-person dining in the city has been declining since June, compared to the same period in 2022.
A list of Toronto’s Michelin-starred restaurants follows. An asterisk (*) denotes a new entry.
Sushi Masaki Saito
Aburi HanaAloAlobar YorkvilleDon Alfonso 1890 TorontoEdulisEnigma YorkvilleFriluKaiseki Yu-zen Hashimoto*Kappo SatoOsteria GiuliaQuetzal*Restaurant 20 VictoriaShoushinYukashi
The AceAlmaBar Raval*BB’sCampechanoCherry Street Bar-B-QueChica’s ChickenEnoteca SocialeFat PashaFavorites ThaiFonda BalamGrey GardensIndian Street Food CompanyLa BartolaPuerto BravoR&DSumiLicious Smoked Meat Deli*Sunnys Chinese*Tiflisi*White Lily DinerWynona
*Frilu*White Lily Diner
(Updates with interviews from the ceremony throughout.)
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