Restaurant 20 Victoria – The best thing to come from the death of Brothers Food & Wine
|Restaurant||Restaurant 20 Victoria|
|Location||20 Victoria Street|
|Tasting menu for two||$110 per person|
Restaurant 20 Victoria is an intimate space with a wide-open kitchen as a focal point—there’s no bad seat in the house. It also happens to be one of the most coveted restaurant reservations in Toronto since it opened in the summer of 2021—and for good reason. The restaurant marks the long-awaited return of Chris White and Jonathan Nicolaou, who closed their critically acclaimed restaurant, Brothers Food & Wine, amidst the pandemic.
Located at 20 Victoria Street in the heart of Toronto’s financial district, the restaurant strikes the right balance between elegant and cozy, with only 20 seats inside and a small outdoor patio. Due to its limited seating capacity, it’s not uncommon for reservations to be booked months in advance. After waiting what seemed like an eternity to score a reservation, I finally showed up at my allotted time.
Chef Julie Hyde, a new addition to the team, is at the helm of the open kitchen, where much of the space’s energy radiates. With true culinary prowess, she changes dishes on a whim—sometimes weekly, sometimes daily—to offer diners a unique and memorable experience. All dishes incorporate local and seasonal ingredients and offer nuanced flavour profiles. What’s perhaps most special about the multi-course sensory experience is that it’s a blind tasting menu. There were six courses the evening I was there, priced reasonably at $110 per person.
As my guest and I settled into our seats, we were welcomed by White, who walked us through the restaurant’s concept and placed a beverage menu on our table. There was a small selection of artisan cocktails and wines, many of which were from Ontario.
As our blind tasting menu journey began, my guest and I felt at right at home with White’s warm and attentive service. Not only was he eager to answer questions about the food, but he also engaged in genuine conversation as he effortlessly floated between tables.
A solitary Kusshi oyster from the waters of Deep Bay, British Columbia arrived as the first course. Topped with peppery watercress and citrus caramel, its briny freshness set the tone for what was to come.
The next few dishes followed the seafood-forward theme. First, paper-thin swordfish crudo, resting in the shallow pool of ginger cream and green garlic. The flavours danced on my tongue, and I thoroughly enjoyed how the ginger complemented the sweet-flavoured meat. The next dish was an all-around winner – Fogo Island crab and rutabaga. At first glance, this dish could be mistaken for ravioli. Hyde transformed the gently cooked rutabaga into thin, circular shapes, which were then stuffed with tender crab. A warm broth was poured over the whole dish table-side, which was a lovely finishing touch. Before our mains arrived, we also enjoyed a maitake mushroom dish with barley, black olive and grape must. Not only was it rich in umami, but it was plated beautifully.
For the mains, there were two options, and my guest and I ordered one of each: striped bass and lamb saddle. Often considered a premium cut of meat to its tender nature, the lamb saddle did not disappoint. It was served with savoy cabbage and seasoned with a magically correct ratio of cardamom, which balanced the mild sweetness of the meat. We also enjoyed the lighter dish of the two, the striped bass, which came from Miramichi River.A sutble accent of Fioretto, a brassica plant that is a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower, balanced the fish’s mild flavour and didn’t detract from it.
To round out the meal, we shared the two desserts on offer: a spiced cake with elderberry as well as a financier with sunchoke. If you’ve ever doubted whether sunchoke can be elegantly transformed into a dessert, let Restaurant 20 Victoria prove you wrong. Nothing was left on either of the plates, and we could have easily polished off two more.
Overall, the experience at Restaurant 20 Victoria was well worth the wait, and I’m already looking forward to dining there again. The food was unique and delicious. The service was attentive and I never felt rushed. Pretentious attitudes that can often exist at higher end establishments were non-existent. It was an absolute pleasure through and through. The best thing to come from the death of Brothers Food & Wine was the birth of Restaurant 20 Victoria. This is quite possibly the best restaurant to emerge from the pandemic, and I wish the team much success in their new venture.
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.