Restaurant Review: Alder – A culinary destination in the Ace Hotel Toronto with refined approachability￼
|51 Camden Street (inside
|Dinner for two with drinks
Hotel restaurants are an interesting breed. In many cases, the word “mediocrity” comes to mind because they have a steady flow of patrons from the hotel, and, can oftentimes fail to push the culinary envelope compared to standalone restaurants.
After dining at the Ace Hotel Toronto’s new restaurant, Alder, rest assured that it is the opposite of mediocre. The Ace Hotel Toronto made its splash in Canada in the summer of 2022, with its first location in the city’s Garment District. With a central location on Camden Street, yet tucked away from the hustle and bustle of Queen Street West, the hotel is housed in a shiny new building by Shim-Sutcliffe Architects and features a lobby suspended from massive concrete arches.
Like many of Ace Hotel’s other properties around the world, the boutique hotel strikes the perfect balance of industrial, artistic and metropolitan—and its very own restaurant, Alder, is no exception. At the helm of Alder is a talented culinary team: Patrick Kriss (chef/consultant), Devin Murphy (executive chef of Ace Hotel Toronto) and Matthew Betsch (Alo Food Group corporate chef). Like Kriss’ other restaurants, seasonality and sourcing are of utmost importance. Alder’s rotating menu gives patrons a reason to visit again and again—and admire the stunning architecture and ambiance as well.
Located on the lower level, Alder offers a Mediterranean menu with many items kissed by the kitchen’s wood-fired grill. Although it is a subterranean restaurant, it feels warm and inviting with its soaring ceilings and larger-than-life windows. While dining there for an early dinner, the golden hour light ricocheted off the windows, casting a warm glow on its patrons as well as the beautiful dishes.
Offerings are approachable for the hotel’s wide-ranging clientele, yet nuanced enough to make an impression. It’s not uncommon to see groups of business dinners as well as families with young children in high chairs (yes, the restaurant has plenty). Grilled chicken with harissa jus, sea bream crudo and a fat ice cream sandwich that would make anyone grin are just some of the items. Beverages highlight local wineries, distilleries and breweries, giving it the local touch tourists (and locals alike) appreciate. And the cocktails are just as thoughtful as one might expect of an Ace property. Take the Iceberg Fiction ($18), for example, a stunning ombré beverage—much like the spicier cousin of a margarita—with a tequila base and unexpected hits of jalapeño, almond and citrus with every sip.
As one might expect, Alder excels at dishes that are both protein heavy as well as meatless. An obvious crowd-pleaser from the “To Start” section of the menu was the Heirloom Tomato & Burrata ($20), which appeared on virtually every table in the vicinity. Juicy heirloom tomatoes and pillowy soft burrata were kissed with a fragrant basil pesto. Sourdough croutons added a satisfying crunch. It’s one of those dishes where simplicity sang.
At the recommendation of our server, we also ordered the Braised Short Rib ($46). Along with the Suckling Pig ($34), it was his top pick from the “Mains” section. Alder’s Beef Short Rib impressed with its multidimensionality—it was aromatic, succulent and deeply flavourful—a dish that Kriss has clearly honed at his other establishments. While the tender beef was clearly the star of the show, chantrelle mushrooms and confit tomato vied for attention. A side of French Fries ($12) was the perfect companion— whether using them as a vessel to sop up the extra jus on the plate or dunk them in the garlic aioli.
Every restaurant has a signature dish, and Alder’s is a luscious coconut cream pie ($16) that’s show stopping in both its looks and its taste. A crunchy rum-brushed macaroon cookie crust, a velvety smooth coconut pastry cream and a generous topping of caramelized white chocolate and toasted coconut are guaranteed to make anyone swoon. If you’re on the fence about coconut (or pie, for that matter), this dessert will definitely change your mind.
After dining at Alder, it’s hard to imagine anybody who will be disappointed by this new restaurant at the Ace Hotel Toronto. Not only is it pulsing with life, but the food and service have a refined approachability that suit all occasions. Alder truly is a culinary destination whether you’re popping in for a business dinner, out celebrating with friends, or visiting from elsewhere. Whatever your reason for dining at Alder, you’ll certainly experience exceptional and memorable hospitality in a spectacular setting.
Mme M. xoxo
La rubrique de Madame Marie
1 étoile – Run. Before you get the runs.
2 étoiles – Mediocre, but nothing you couldn’t make at home.
3 étoiles – C’est bon, with some standout qualities.
4 étoiles – Many memorable qualities and excellent execution. Compliments to the chef.
5 étoiles – Formidable! Michelin Star quality. Book a reservation immediately.