Restaurant Review: And/Ore – The Tasting Menu That Redefines Dining

Address1040 Queen Street West
Dinner for 4 with beverages and wine:$800

In the heart of Toronto’s West Queen West, a district known for its vibrant culture and artistic flair, And/Ore emerges as a landmark of culinary innovation. This establishment, the brainchild of Jaimie Donovan, an Australian expatriate with a background in mining engineering, is a testament to the transformative power of passion and vision. Donovan’s ambition was to create a dining experience that transcended the conventional, a space where the extraordinary becomes the norm. With the collaboration of a team of talented women, including Chef Missy Hui (Fabbrica), And/Ore has indeed become a shining star in Toronto’s dining scene since it opened in December 2023.

The Below Ground tasting menu experience is the highlight of And/Ore’s offerings. As you descend into the restaurant’s cavernous depths, the ambiance immediately captivates. The space, framed by hand-poured concrete walls and punctuated with golden accents, evokes a feeling of being in a modern-day grotto—a perfect blend of elegance and mystery. Soft, ambient lighting washes over each table, casting a warm, romantic glow that invites intimacy. The carefully orchestrated dimness, complemented by the warm glow of table lamps, enhances the golden tones of the decor, creating a secluded, almost secretive atmosphere. This setting doesn’t just host a meal–it hosts an experience, encouraging diners to disconnect from the world above and immerse themselves in the culinary narrative crafted by Chef Missy Hui.

Chef Missy Hui has crafted a culinary narrative that is both enigmatic and exhilarating. The 8-course tasting menu, priced at $150 per person, offers a parade of dishes that tell a story of innovation and delight. For those wishing to enhance their experience, optional wine pairings are available for an additional $80, carefully selected to complement each course with exquisite harmony. The menu, a closely guarded secret, unfolds as a series of surprises, each course a revelation in flavour and technique. Hui’s approach is playful yet refined, with a focus on seasonal ingredients and bold combinations that challenge the palate while providing a sense of comfort and familiarity.

The journey begins with homemade milk bread and butter and an array of small bites, each a miniature work of art. First, a whimsical reinterpretation of the fortune cookie—a nod to nostalgia with a contemporary twist. Next, an arancini ball deep fried in tempura, is a study in texture, with its crispy exterior giving way to a velvety interior, and fluke crudo paired with refreshing grapefruit segments.

The East coast scallop is a masterpiece of the sea, seared to perfection and nestled on a bed of delicate lettuce sauce. The addition of toasted hazelnut and pear with a drizzle of leek oil brings a crunchy, sweet contrast that elevates the scallop’s inherent sweetness and showcases the kitchen’s mastery over technique and ingredient synergy. As the meal progresses, the dishes become more intricate, showcasing Hui’s deft touch and creative vision.

A forest floor comes to life on the plate with the maitake and celeriac dish. Here, the earthy tones of maitake mushrooms are paired with the subtle nuttiness of celeriac. A dusting of tonka and a splash of Moscatel vinegar cut through the richness, while a cloud-like celery root foam and charred onion and garlic add depth and smokiness.

In a playful dance of flavours, squash, raspberry, feta, onion, and shiso come together in a symphony of sweet and savoury. The pan-fried squash, drizzled in squash butter and topped with whipped feta and raspberry gel, makes for a velvety mouthfeel, while the chermoula sauce offers a fresh herbal kick.

The salmon dish is poetically composed and exemplifies Hui’s commitment to culinary innovation and sustainability. Poached in luxurious Spanish olive oil and accompanied by a silky parsnip purée, the salmon is topped with cucumber delicately reduced in Ever gin. This innovative treatment enhances the cucumber’s crispness and infuses subtle botanical flavours. Additionally, a vibrant sauce crafted from cucumber peel and green tomato provides a tangy contrast that complements the salmon’s richness. This thoughtful use of every part of the cucumber not only adds depth but also demonstrates a zero-waste approach, enriching the dish’s overall flavour and integrity.

A palate-cleansing pear sorbet accompanied by green grape and a splash of housemade basmati rice milk offers a refreshing interlude, preparing the palate for the hearty courses to follow.

The short rib with charred broccolini and smoked potato dumpling is a testament to Chef Hui’s prowess in balancing robust flavours. The meat, tender and rich, pairs exquisitely with the light smokiness of the dumpling and the fresh bite of broccolini, all brought together by a natural sauce that sings with depth and warmth.

The finale of the Below Ground experience is a dessert that encapsulates Hui’s ability to transform the familiar into the extraordinary. A decadent chocolate dessert infused with Amarena cherry and a hint of bourbon, garnished with gold leaf, serves not just as a dessert, but as a grand finale. This creation is both a feast for the eyes and a celebration of indulgence. My guests and I are simply speechless.

Complementing the culinary journey is a meticulously curated selection of beverages. The champagne list, with its generous by-the-glass options, and the natural wine selection, designed by Grape Witches, offer perfect pairings for each course. The cocktail menu, featuring creative twists on classic drinks, adds an element of whimsy to the evening. The signature negroni, with its blend of white vermouth, Aperol, grapefruit, and Empress gin, is a standout, served over hand-chipped stamped ice and garnished with rosemary. And there are some thoughtful zero-proof options as well, such as the Noa cocktail, which whispers of exotic locales and leisurely afternoons. A blend of vibrant orange, refreshing mint tea, spicy ginger beer, with whispers of lavender, chamomile, and jasmine, it is as complex as it is refreshing.

From the vineyards to the glass, our table also shares a bottle of 2018 Barbaresco. Graceful and approachable, it reflects the meticulous care of its selection. This wine, with its robust body and notes of ripe cherry and blackberry accented by a subtle earthiness, perfectly complements the rich, bold flavours of the meal.

The experience concludes with a selection of petits fours—an earl grey heavenly cream macaron, a single chocolate truffle, and a rum baba pastry—each a delicate bite-size piece of heaven that perfectly rounds off an unforgettable dining experience.

Amidst the mesmerizing backdrop, the service at And/Ore rises to the occasion, with our server, Nathan, embodying the pinnacle of hospitality. His approach is a seamless blend of attentiveness and discretion, ensuring that every need is met without ever crossing into the realm of intrusiveness. Nathan’s presence is like that of a conductor—silent yet impactful, orchestrating the evening’s flow with an expert touch. His knowledge of the menu and pairings is impressive, delivered with a passion that enhances the dining experience. Each interaction with him is thoughtful and timed to perfection, ensuring that the pace of the meal aligns with the relaxed, enchanting atmosphere.

And/Ore’s Below Ground tasting menu experience is nothing short of a masterclass in creativity, craftsmanship, and collaboration. This journey transcends mere dining to become a profound immersion in a world where wonder meets flavour, and the ordinary is transformed into the extraordinary. Here, passion, vision, and talent do not just converge; they synergize to create an unparalleled culinary adventure, setting And/Ore apart in Toronto’s food scene. The fact that this dynamic team is led by talented women adds a remarkable dimension to the restaurant’s success, underscoring the powerful impact of diversity and leadership in shaping the future of gastronomy. Bravo!


Mme. M.


La rubrique de Madame Marie

1 étoile – Run. Before you get the runs.
 étoiles – Mediocre, but nothing you couldn’t make at home.
 étoiles – C’est bon, with some standout qualities.
 étoiles – Many memorable qualities and excellent execution. Compliments to the chef.
 étoiles – Formidable! Michelin Star quality. Book a reservation immediately.