We all want to support Toronto restaurants, heading into another hard winter, amid staffing shortages, Covid-19 variants, supply chain challenges. These are trying times for small businesses, in general.
That said, for many people, while that’s wonderful in theory, they will need reasons to make the trip outside, and walk or Uber it over for a meal out. Last week we had dinner at the new 1 Kitchen, at the corner of Bathurst St. and Wellington St. W.
1 Kitchen is the main restaurant in the new 1 Hotel Toronto – which we’ve written about before – dedicated to “sustainable, luxury hospitality,” a nature-focused hotel brand founded by Barry Sternlicht, CEO and chairman of Starwood Capital Group. Mohari Hospitality acquired the King Street West property and re-developed it as a luxury lifestyle destination.
There are three other restaurants in the hotel – Harriet’s Rooftop (sushi bar), Flora Lounge (cocktails in the lobby lounge, finger foods), and the soon-to-opened Casa Madera (Mexico and the Mediterranean).
1 Kitchen – Image by Brandon Barre
Toronto restaurants: 1 Kitchen brings a feeling of outdoors inside
I know there are a lot of people who will roll their eyes when they hear about a hotel dedicated to sustainability, generating zero waste, energy efficiency, limiting a carbon footprint, breaking down beer bottles into silica to aerate the soil in tree and plants. Everywhere you look there are plants (over 3,200 plants in the hotel, total), reclaimed and re-purposed wood furniture and beams from Just Be Woodsy, located on Tecumseth St. But put your politics aside. Sitting down at 1 Kitchen, on a really cold, blustery Toronto Wednesday, the interior feels like a farmhouse cabin, just not as stuffy.
The marketing for 1 Hotel pushes the “urban oasis” theme and I can honestly say that’s what we felt. It’s a warm, comfortable place, in the heart of the big city. During dinner, I looked out onto the traffic scene on Bathurst, the wind blowing, the blank look on motorists as they inched forward, just trying to get home. 1 Kitchen is a restaurant you could drop right into Manhattan.
Being a long-time Toronto resident and condo owner, I Kitchen once again shows off Toronto’s evolution as a world dining capital, in a city that still has a Hooters at a main intersection (John St. and Adelaide St.). Hey, they can’t all be winners.
Most ingredient are locally sourced
So what about the menu? I started with a Purple Rain cocktail – Grey Goose Pear, St. Germain, Lychee + Hibiscus, Prosecco. We were told at 90 per cent of the restaurant’s ingredients are locally sourced, from like-minded vendors. Pasta comes from Queen’s Pasta. Breads from Forno Cultura. That means a huge quality difference when you’re not shipping veggies, meats, fruits long distances.
That was translated in the rich flavours on every bite of my 16 oz Grass Fed Nolan Farms Angus Ribeye, with charred carrot pureé, pickled blackberries, au poivre jus, with roasted fingerling potatoes on the side (pictured up top). The caesar salad, with bacon cured in-house, was the best I have had in the city. A burger here is $28, the Roasted Fogo Island Cod $35, my 16 oz grass fed ribeye $72. So prices aren’t outlandish, when you factor in the quality.
There’s a garden on site, where they get veggies and herbs, and everything is made in-house, in one kitchen (hence the name).
Harvest Apple & Pear Crumble, image by Hector Vasquez
1 Kitchen Juice bar, image by Brandon Barre
Our service was impeccable – including a guy training to be a pilot, and super passionate about his job. Everyone was very knowledgable about the 1 Hotel story, and loved telling us as we got settled with our drinks.
Is there a critique? The digital menu experience was a little convoluted, trying to find the dinner menu for 1 Kitchen. But that’s grasping at straws (not the plastic ones!). We’re already planning a return visit for brunch in the coming weeks. When talking Toronto restaurants, we can’t think of a better dining destination amidst a cold weather December walk.