Spotlight on Citizen, plus reviews of Erling’s Variety, OCCO Kitchen, and Sutherland
Citizen 207 Gilmour St., 613-422-6505 Citizen is the second project for the formidable chef-restaurateur team of Marc Doiron and Lori Wojcik. Their first is the seven-year-old Elgin Street restaurant called Town. This sibling has slipped in around the corner from Town, on Gilmour Street, with a configuration that allows for the Town kitchen to be lengthened and shared. The room is bright, whitewashed, with design touches that are rustic, refined, quirky, and charming.
As is the modern way, the menu has a snacky sensibility. If you know the food served at Town, you’ll recognize the same focus on big flavours, eccentric-sounding combinations (that work), and pretty plates. Doiron trained as a pastry chef, and his pleasure in detail, colour, and form is clear. But unlike the cuisine at Town — mod-Italian with some liberties — the influences on the menu at Citizen are more global, with a delicious focus on vegetables.
Start with a cocktail — they’re done well here. And maybe with a plate of sweet dates stuffed with smoked blue cheese, sashed with bacon, brushed with cayenned honey, and smothered with almonds. Or you could start with broccoli: the kitchen sets the charred spears, showered with manchego cheese and scattered with pickled grapes, in a shallow pool of Ajo Blanco. Think broccoli isn’t your thing? Try this version. Or go for roasted heirloom carrots, which are set in a puddle of goat-cheese sauce and ringed with an Oz-green swirl of slurried pesto; they are curiously (and winningly) paired with tobiko, candied mandarin, and shards of black sesame brittle.
While there’s a bit of meat in a roasted-eggplant dish, it’s the veg that is the star. Dredged in punchy spices, it’s accompanied by a couscous salad studded with pomegranate, pickled jalapeno, and braised lamb. Yogurt cools it down, and gremolata — with preserved lemon — gives it a big finish. What else? Falafel with beet hummus and a pickled beet salad, heady with cloves. And scallops crudo “cooked” in lime and apple, anointed with brown butter, and covered with a brunoise of green apple and hazelnuts.
Go for pudding chomeur with spiced apples for dessert. Or more of those good cheesy dates.
Citizen might have a casual feel, but service has a fine-dining sensibility. Servers know the food inside out, offer solid wine knowledge, and seem a happy crew.
Small plates $6–$16. Open from 6 p.m. Thursday to Monday.