Set in Toronto’s vibrant entertainment and financial districts, the world-class Ritz- Carlton Toronto counts celebrities and performers, business leaders and global travelers among its diverse clientele. To meet the special culinary needs of their guests, the luxury hotel offers a variety of unique venues designed to elevate everyday dining into exceptional experiences.
Exceptional experiences begin and end with impeccable, personal service, and The Ritz-Carlton’s legendary reputation of such does not disappoint, earning the hotel a Five-Star rating for the fifth consecutive year by Forbes Travel Guide 2020.
At the stylish Ritz Bar, our Peruvian bartender, Francisco, demonstrates his wizardry at making the bar’s signature liquid nitrogen cocktail. Patrons have their choice among several appealing selections, like Love Potion #9 or Pisco Pasión. I opt for classic simplicity with a flash of drama, the Ritz Bar Nitro Martini, with my vote for Hendrick’s Gin, a dash of Dolin Dry Vermouth, and Citrus Twist, “Elegantly stirred, served chilled to perfection in a frozen cocktail glass.” Perfection indeed.
Adding to his stellar hospitality, Francisco sends us off with his recipes for a classic Pisco Sour (“Shake until your poor arm hurts!” he says), and accompanying Peruvian cancha snack, more familiar to us as toasted corn nuts. He also gifted us with a handwritten note for the ingredients of two cocktails — the Pretty Bird, “inspired by the notion and element of air,” and Deep Cove, “inspired by the amalgamation and unity of flora, fauna, land and ocean.” Just the names evoke images of the pristine beauty and captivating wildlife that grace the vast Ontario wilderness.
Not in the mood for a cocktail? No worries. By day, Ritz Bar features a sweet and savory signature afternoon tea, complete with delectable tastes like Lobster and Crab Salad Sandwich, Smoked Salmon and Egg on Charcoal Bread, Vanilla Mousse Tian, and Caramel Ganache Cake. For a rare treat, ask for a serving of Black Ivory Coffee, with a flavor profile of chocolate and spice (“and everything nice”), together with hints of grass and cherry. Sold primarily to select luxury hotels around the world such as The Ritz-Carlton, the coffee is “naturally refined by Thai elephants.” Purchases of the distinctive coffee support the Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation.
Italian cuisine partnered with locally-sourced, seasonal ingredients define the food fare at The Ritz-Carlton Toronto’s Toca Restaurant. In collaboration with the chef de cuisine and restaurant manager, renowned Rome-based Executive Chef Oliver Glowig oversees the menu featuring handcrafted pastas, like the restaurant’s signature dish Ravioli Caprese, along with fresh seafood and over-the-moon desserts.
Beyond the main dining room and Bistro, Toca offers a variety of singular dining experiences.
Begin your extraordinary dining experience at the Cheese Cave, a 65-square-foot, entirely glass-walled structure set within the restaurant. The only one of its kind in Canada, the Cheese Cave was created to reflect the different kinds of cheeses available in Ontario and other Canadian Provinces, along with those of international origins (France, Spain, UK) that complement Toca’s menu. Temperature-controlled at 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), the Cave generally holds a selection of 20-25 hard cheeses at any one time.
Always on hand among the aromatic, flavorful cheese selections are Parmesan, Pecorino, Manchego, Barolo, and Avonlea Clothbound Cheddar. The latter is characterized by its salty, potato taste, evocative of the Prince Edward Island seaside from which it hails.
For your own Cheese Cave experience, sign up for a tour, offered daily at 5:30 p.m.
Toca guests seeking a more intimate, interactive experience will love dining at the Chef’s Table, set within the restaurant’s bustling kitchen where the chef de cuisine can personalize the experience for charity events and special celebrations, such as wedding tastings, anniversaries, and other milestone moments. Resident artist, Jacqueline Poirier, aka “The Crazy Plate Lady,” creates magical memories from the outset with her fun, hand-painted charger plates featuring scenes of animals, celebrities, food and drink, and local landscapes.
Our evening tasting experience revealed several wondrous surprises, beginning with Baccala (potato chips, olive oil), paired with “Saint Martin” Domaine Laroche Chablis 2016, followed by three more delectable courses and wine pairings. Each dish was exquisitely prepared and presented, though the fresh taste of Scallop (red pepper pesto and fresh herbs) and tender Lamb Loin & Braised Shoulder (creamy polenta, rapini puree) were standouts.
For dessert? Here the “Novalia” Recioto Della Valpolicella Classico paired perfectly with a spectacular Chocolate mousse crémeux se gianduja chocolate, hazelnut crémeux and sauce.
Capping off the evening’s festivities, we added our names to the restaurant wall tiles, a fitting finale to an unforgettable Toca dining experience, thanks to chef de cuisine, Daniele Trivero, his kitchen crew, and our sommelier, Penny, who sent us off with these wise parting words: “Always enjoy wine!”
For more information, visit The Ritz-Carlton Toronto website.
Many thanks to hosts The Ritz-Carlton Toronto and Tourism Toronto for the opportunity to experience your warm hospitality!