The Victorian-era cottage that housed Carmen’s had been a landmark on the block for decades. The Carmen’s of old, with its storied celebrity clientele had long gone and the house had stood lonely and empty for years. Jason Huang, an employee from decades past, on his return to Canada, made a sentimental journey for a good steak and saw a For Sale sign. He snapped it up and after years of renovation, has breathed new life into the dusty rooms, creating a new Carmen’s. The beautiful stainedglass windows once again gleam from the interior. Just for the record, I like it a lot. Executive Chef Forrest Liu earned his chops working for Jean-georges in Shanghai and is delighted to be in Toronto. With his wife Karan at the front of the house, they have a determined work ethic. The menu will make you smile. An amuse bouche of steak tartar comes on a crisp fried bun. Scallops are cloaked with jasmine sea salt emulsion with a kick of togarishi, quinoa and sweet snow peas for contrast. Miso black cod has a lovely sear and caramelization and is partnered with spinach risotto with katsuoboshi flakes. Not all is exotic and even the steak house purist will find joys on the menu: Caesar salad, baked potato, asparagus with hollandaise, and more. But let’s get to the main event. From the steak menu, I like the U.S. Snake River Farms Wagyu 8 oz. strip loin. This is a beautiful fusion of east meets west as we can taste the textural qualities of the revered marbled Wagyu beef, but with the robust juiciness preferred by our Western palates. This is not your granddad’s or your dad’s steak house. Carmen’s is the ultimate steak house for the times.