DINE and Destinations - - EPICUREAN OSAKA -

Less the­o­ret­i­cal than Dar­win's no­tion of how fish leads to ape leads to Bowie is the rule of neigh­bour­hood evo­lu­tion: Cheap rent at­tracts artists, artists spawn gal­leries, and gallery go­ers like good food. It's what's made Park­dale a nat­u­ral ex­ten­sion of the Drake-in­spired West Queen West phe­nom­e­non a kilo­me­tre or so east along Queen.

Amid the laun­dro­mats and the bars with 11 a.m. reg­u­lars, there are now also places like Chante­cler (1320 Queen W.), the per­fect Park­dale spot, high-end food, low-end prices (peo­ple come for the moist and messy let­tuce-wrapped fish and pork), with a wal­let-safe tast­ing menu served to no more than 16 week­end pa­trons (Fri­days and Satur­days) at the back of the room that com­petes with any in the city.

Formerly of Cow­bell and chef de cui­sine at Side­car, Peter Ram­say's Geral­dine (1564 Queen W.) is a lit­tle fancier, with an eye on oys­ters, ab­sinthe (served à l'an­ci­enne with wa­ter spig­ots, slot­ted spoons and sugar cubes) and up­ping the city's cock­tail game with con­coc­tions like Hem­ing­way Goes Hunt­ing with Oax­a­can Leyenda mez­cal, cel­ery syrup, dan­de­lion bit­ter and cilantro.

It's Ian Mc­grenaghan and Colin Tooke, both Jen Agg alumni, who put this strip on the map with their stripped-down decor, cranked-up, high-en­ergy sound­tracks, and—most of all—their ta­cos at Grand Elec­tric (1330 Queen W.) and their South­ern-style smokes and sauces—like the shrimp and smoked ched­dar grits at Elec­tric Mud BBQ (5 Brock), named for Muddy Wa­ters' 1968 psy­che­delic blues al­bum, though the com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor to the spot's sound­track, which in­cludes rock, blues and metal, seems to be vol­ume. —Bert Archer

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