DINE and Destinations - - EPICUREAN OSAKA -

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


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