Ortolan is a small, bar-like resto on Bloor between Dufferin and Lansdowne, conveniently located next to the House of Lancaster. It quietly opened this past Thursday following a complete makeover, making it nearly unrecognizable from its humble Kathy's Kitchen roots. Like a lot of folks in the neighborhood, I had been waiting for this place to open for the past few months. We have essentially no
The menu is short, and I assume ever-changing since it's up on a blackboard. The menu is split in four - apps, pastas, mains and sides. There were eight wines in total, six of which were available by the glass. Homemade cordials are served with club soda in lieu of name brand sodas. There are maybe 20 seats in all, with two bars.
From the apps, we had the grilled green onion with some kind of tomato/garlic sauce for dipping (it was Spanish, similar to Romesco). The charred flavour of the green onions was quite nice, but perhaps there was too much onion/garlic going on in that dish as we were all tasting it hours later. We also had guanciale with leek vinaigrette and a hard-boiled egg, which was fantastic. The leek vinaigrette was more like a pile of sauteed leeks with a bit of acidity, a perfect complement to the salty pork.
From the pastas, we had the gnocchi with wild mushrooms, which were probably the best gnocchis I have ever had. They were so incredibly light! And the sauce was earthy and creamy, filled with yellowfoot mushrooms. I normally don't even like mushrooms, but this was just fantastic.
I had the sardines with saffron broth as my main. The sardines came with pine nuts and raisins, as well as a thick slice of fennel that had been poached in the broth. I'm a sardine fan, and these did not disappoint. My dining companion had the the pirate's chicken, which had an East African spice + coffee crust. Also delicious.
For the sides, we had the beets with tahini and the honeyed turnips. The beets were particularly good, and almost tasted like borsht.
All in all, I very much enjoyed my dinner at Ortolan. The menu had good variety, the atmostphere was relaxed, the service was very competent (you couldn't even tell that it was only their second night). A welcomed addition to the neighborhood!