For years, Dundas West was up and coming. It's now officially arrived, managing to achieve the hipness of West Queen West with the action of College on a ’90s Friday night, all while serving food that's better than either ever was. New chefs are staking their claim in old spaces. The facades are the same, but what's going on inside is anything but.
Hudson Kitchen's Robbie Hojilla has brought some long overdue and ever-changing tributes to the Asian-spanish fusion that is Filipino cuisine—like the Filipino fried chicken on brioche with adobo mayonnaise —tucked in amid his vegetable-focused “leaf-to-root” menu (800 Dundas W.). Eminence grise Susur Lee is giving it his imprimatur with his latest joint production, Bent, designed by wife Brenda Bent (777 Dundas W.), co-run with sons Kai and Levi. This time, the famous Lee fusion focuses on fish, and opens wide enough to include Peruvian-style ceviche, which has to be tasted to be believed.
Cafe Bar Pasta (1588 Dundas W.) sounds like a simple place— espresso by day, pasta by evening, drinks at night—but dishes like milk-poached sweetbread saltimbocca and the garlic consommébased aqua cotta belie the impression. It's owned by Tom Bielecki and run by chef Jay Scaife, the winter-time chef of one of the Caribbean's best resorts, Young Island in St. Vincent.
More than anyone else, Jen Agg and husband Roland Jean have made this strip west of Bathurst the centre of culinary progressiveness it now is, and they've recently added a third, the Rhum Corner (926 Dundas W.), where Torontonians can finally get a taste of some good Haitian Barbancourt rum and the hot pepperspiked coleslaw side dish known as pickliz. Weekends are mad, but unlike many neighbourhoods, there are no mid-week crickets on Dundas West. —Bert Archer