Joanne Kates re­views Yorkville’s lat­est culi­nary des­ti­na­tion, Brothers

Perched above Bay Sta­tion, this pint-sized Yorkville resto is home to a very clever kitchen

North York Post - - Contents - JOANNE KATES

How is it that a 28-seat wine bar with food, with the sub­way rum­bling un­der the floor at fre­quent in­ter­vals and a cur­mud­geon be­hind the bar has caught the fancy of so many Toronto food­ies?

It starts with get­ting a reser­va­tion: you have to phone be­cause they don’t do on­line reser­va­tions. Their out­go­ing voice mes­sage says: “Our menu changes at whim and is not avail­able on­line.”

OK. So I phone for a reser­va­tion. I ask for 7 p.m. The guy on the phone of­fers 6:30 or 9 p.m. I push, can’t I have 7 p.m?

“Never,” he says, “It’s not good for us.” I say it’s not great for me. To which he replies: “There will be a reser­va­tion af­ter you.”

This is a new def­i­ni­tion of hos­pi­tal­ity. Where are we, New York?

We show up and are seated at the bar. The cor­ner of the bar is very nice. There are six small ta­bles in the back, and I ask the bearded guy be­hind the bar (the cur­mud­geon) if we can get one of those next time.

“Two peo­ple never get a ta­ble. Al­ways at the bar,” he growls. Re­mind me why we’re here. Easy. Ev­ery sin­gle plate of food they put in front of us is … fab­u­lous. Glo­ri­ous in­gre­di­ents, sourced care­fully, f resh, pure, ex­cel­lent. All treated with ut­most re­spect and grace. Worth putting up with the guy.

Like they say in the voice mes­sage, you can’t eat what I ate be­cause the menu changes “at whim.” It was great. It will be great.

To start, we in­haled per­fect un­greasy mack­erel atop puck­ery pick­led egg­plant in vinai­grette tinged with mint. There were ethe­real sweet­breads with care­fully braised Bel­gian en­dive in a light purée of al­mond sauce.

Steak tartare, lighter than usual thanks to leav­ing out the egg yolk, knife-edge sea­son­ing with a lit­tle heat, to spread on mag­nif­i­cently crusty grilled Prairie Boy sour­dough.

You may meet lamb at Brothers, for chef clearly has a bah­hhd in­fat­u­a­tion. There were lit­tle lamb sausages, house-made, ten­der and juicy and wrapped in shal­lot skins (!!) atop cumin-scented creamy mus­tard sauce.

Chef ’s lamb neck is a ten­der melt­ing braise in del­i­cate gar­lic sauce, the sweet of the lamb in clever coun­ter­point to the but­ter of chicory.

Chef ’s steel­head trout is spe­cial for its crispy skin and melt­ing pink heart. It sits on lighter-than-air beurre blanc flavoured with fresh tar­ragon.

It doesn’t mat­ter if the en­tire menu has changed when you go to Brothers. The feel of the food will be the same. This is a very clever kitchen, with su­perb taste buds and a light touch.

As for the cur­mud­geon be­hind the bar, click your heels three times and imag­ine you’re in Man­hat­tan. It won’t hurt so much. Joanne Kates trained at the Ecole Cor­don Bleu de Cui­sine in Paris. She has writ­ten ar­ti­cles for nu­mer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, in­clud­ing the New York Times, Ma­clean’s and Chate­laine.

Clock­wise from left: beef carpac­cio with enoki mush­rooms; clams; cit­rus yo­gurt cake

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