360 Restaurant Towering Above Toronto
Getting there is half the fun. I could ride up and down the glass-fronted elevator for an hour; awestruck by the view during the 58-second interval it takes to reach the top. The Lookout, Glass Floor and Skypod make this the top destination for families, visitors to Toronto—and dates! But, today I plan to conquer my fears and do the Edgewalk. There is no better view of Toronto than hanging out, 356 dizzying metres above the ground, from the edge of the Tower. It’s an exercise in trust, and a popular spot for wedding proposals. They’ll be too scared to say no.
Circumnavigating the Tower deserves a 360° Canadian feast. What is Canadian cuisine you ask? The answer lies in the menu at 360, Canada’s dining room. Alberta prime rib aged 45 days; Newfoundland hand-line cod; Saskatchewan wild rice; B.C. wild mushrooms; Niagara squash and a wide selection of Canadian cheese enlivens the menu. This icon of our city is also the flagship restaurant of our country. Their motto is “Canadian ingredients, Canadian wine, Canadian view.” Towering seafood platters display Canada’s oceanic bounty, while the grill showcases Canadian beef, bison, lamb and pork.
We begin the culinary tour of our country from Signal Hill to Parliament Hill to Beacon Hill, and what a delicious trip it is. A platter of roasted beets, heirloom carrots, Niagara charcuterie, Pine Meadow Farm’s beef tartar with a kick of charred habanero aioli, shrimp and house-cured, beautifully smoked, candy-red Atlantic salmon arrive as a dazzling palette of appetizers. They smoke their own salmon and trout, and make their own sausages. Their own butcher cuts all the steaks; and they make their own jus from veal. It’s a large production, but it’s all made from scratch.
Decorators have made some changes in the colour scheme: white paint with navy trim and new navy leather upholstery draws our attention outwards, and there’s not a bad seat in the house. To get the “Full Monty” come before sunset and stay to watch the sparkling nightscape. High above the cacophony of city traffic, we are entranced as our city unfolds in 360 degrees. The temptation to press my nose against the glass is strong, but it’s a bad idea, considering that this restaurant is revolving. Oh look, there are airplanes taking off and landing at the island’s Billy Bishop airport, and Lake Ontario is filled with boats on this summer’s day.
Servers are engaging, polite and well-versed in hospitality. They’ve also learned to be photographers, since they’re often asked to take pictures of guests. Step into the world’s highest wine cellar with 9,000 bottles and a tasting table, and read labels from boutique Ontario wineries to the most exclusive bottles in the world. The Sommelier is eager to discuss vintages and recommend pairings.
Ontario lamb is cut into thick meaty chops, grilled and served sizzling and glissed with rosemary jus, the scent of fresh rosemary and the chef’s own blend of herbs rise to entice me to dig right in. The pairing with Niagara’s Kew Vineyards Soldier’s Grant blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc is lovely. This is a true and delicious taste of Ontario’s terroir: meat, herbs and wine all from the same piece of ground. A nod to autumn in the Prairies, bouncy little pillows of barley and toasted almond gnocchi are enlivened with braised red cabbage, chanterelles and a coriander infused squash pureé. The spot-on suggested pairing is a Chardonnay from Niagara’s Flat Rock Cellars. Bison tenderloin is a rich, succulent and robust cut crowned with west coast black trumpet mushrooms, and elevated to savoury heights with black currant and chili jus, and a decorative presentation of beets, sprouts and black walnuts. Grown in Canada, cooked in Canada, and eaten in Canada—that’s Canadian cuisine. We know where it comes from and how it gets to our plate.
At night, we almost feel like we can reach out and touch the stars. There are more marriage proposals made here than anywhere else in the country. The late dinner sitting attracts young, unabashedly romantic couples. On this clear night, as we slowly circle in space between the stars and the bright lights of the big city, everything seems possible.