Reverie at the Park celebrated its one year anniversary this month with Executive Chef Jef Edwards, Chef de Cuisine James Knox, and Sous Chef Raul D’Souza, and Torontonicity was invited to join in the celebration! The evening’s dinner kept with the whimsical décor of the restaurant as the theme was Down the Rabbit Hole. The menu stayed true to the sustainable, locally sourced, and almost zero-waste philosophy practiced by the entire Reverie team, with some beautifully plated dishes throughout the night!
Reverie is located in Little Italy at 569 College Street. Upon entering the intimate space, one is immediately struck by the decor: a collection of beautifully misfit vintage chairs, dried flower arrangements, and birch bark accents. The 100-year-old taxidermy pieces found throughout the bar and small performance area were brought back from the Niagara museum by Reverie’s owners.
Not only does the restaurant’s décor imply a profound admiration for nature and the environment, but so too does the kitchen: Reverie has no walk-in freezer meaning that all left over ingredients from dinner are later used for cocktails at the bar. I started my evening with one such drink, a Chaga mushroom tea shot with cocoa air foam sprinkled with chili flakes.
We started our evening with house made focaccia, dandelion pesto, and a bone marrow butter, paired with venison croquettes. All were very light in flavour, ensuring a clean palette for the rest of the meal!
Then came a smoked beef tartare and enoki mushrooms on a bed of dehydrated greens right from the kitchen’s micro garden. This dish really introduced the beautiful plating from the Reverie team, but also the real dedication to using every ingredient without waste. The green dust contributed a mild dill flavour, which cut through the stronger onion in the tartare. The combination resulted in a very earthy quality to the entire dish.
Next was Chef Edwards’s take on the classic surf and turf: scallops, mushrooms (to replace the red meat), and grilled Brussels sprouts. The mushroom substitute was fantastic as it still had the meatiness of a red meat, but offered a much healthier option. The flavours were brought closer to the familiar by a thinly sliced round of cured prosciutto. Fantastic dish, enjoyed by our entire table!
Our next dish was a cured mackerel in an artichoke broth with olives and pickled blueberries. This dish had very delicate flavours, with the blueberries having the strongest burst in each bite – but not acidic, as was expected. The mackerel itself was warmed slightly, but not poached, inspired by techniques used to prepare sashimi.
I was delighted to see we were trying the signature gnocchi fritti: edamame, charred palm, house ricotta, and spinach cream. This dish has been on the menu since day one, as it’s a Reverie team favourite. The ricotta is mild, and well made, allowing the flavours of the charred palm to really come through. My only criticism was that the gnocchi was quite chewy in the centre, and I personally would have preferred it to be cooked a bit longer.
The evening ended on a sweet note, with shaved truffle and fresh mushroom, atop a honey and thyme chocolate tart, with a spoonful of white truffle ice cream. The ice cream alone was absolutely wonderful, and felt incredibly rich, comparable to an earthy white chocolate note without the intense sweetness. Lovely!
The back dining area of Reverie is nicely lit, making it perfect for an intimate dinner. Please keep in mind though that the restaurant hosts live music regularly, at which time the entire space feels more like a lounge best suited for dancing or cocktails. They also have Sous Chef takeovers featuring some of Toronto’s best and freshest culinary talent. The most recent takeover featured Zachary Barnes, former sous chef at Alo and now at La Palma on Dundas West. Make sure to also check out their online calendar to see what the Reverie at the Park team is planning, as I’m sure there are more exciting events in this quaint space!
Reverie at the Park, 569 College Street, Toronto, 416-533-8841