Twitter: @antlerkitchen, @thehunterchef
Address: 1454 Dundas St West, Tor., ON
When I visited: March 2016, 4 people, dinner
Rating: $$$$, 4.5
I happen to eat at Antler Kitchen and Bar on a very snowy evening with about 20 cm of snow that accumulated while I was eating. The cold weather however did not deter eager customers like me from enjoying the delicious eats.
The restaurant owned by Chef Michael Hunter and Jody Shapiro showcases their love of foraged regional ingredients, Canadian cuisine and Chef Hunter’s love of hunting (can his last name be any more appropriate?!), although the meat served at the restaurant is farm-raised.
The restaurant aims to “define Canadian cuisine highlighting local seasonal and wild foods”. The simple menu highlights their vision well, with a few playful starters that celebrates the multiculturalism in Toronto including beef patties, gyoza and grilled Yakitori (Read the full menu).
The restaurant decor feels modern, yet rustic with scenic photographs of nature all taken by Chef Hunter. The photograph of the morel mushroom was a great example of Chef Hunter’s artistic abilities and attention to detail (you must see it for yourself!). Having had the chance to speak with Chef Hunter during our visit, I know that he is passionate about what he does. Not only is he talented and down-to-earth, he is incredibility good-looking…I mean hot!
Now onto the delicious eats. Here is what I ate (starters were shared amongst my friends):
Jamaican Venison Patty with spicy dipping sauce ($9)- The extra spicy and saucy center paired well with spicy dipping sauce.
Wild Boar Gyoza ($9) – Nicely pan fried with generous fillings.
Cold smoked salmon done in-house (special of the day)-The plating was a work of art! I enjoyed that the fish was slightly sweeter than the traditionally salty smoked salmon.
Venison tartare (special of the day)- This was the first time I tried venison tartare and it knocked me off of my feet. It was light with the right amount of seasoning. I hope they keep this on the regular menu in the future!
For my main, I had the Spice Ash Crusted Rack of Deer with parsnip purée and swiss chard ($39)- Not sure how to describe the crust but it tasted smokey and ashy. The deer was not gamey and super tender. I eventually used my hands and gnawed all the meat off the bone.
To accompany my meal, I had the Antler Caesar with a lime cedar dust. I enjoy my rim seasoning to be a bit bolder as I found the rim to be rather light. The cool part of their drink menu is that there are many ingredients that Chef Hunter had foraged himself, including foraged Sumac. I also had a glass of red wine, which paired well with my main.
The restaurant does an excellent job showcasing their vision of celebrating Canadian cuisine and regional ingredients. The food was comforting, delicious and beautifully plated. I look forward to my next return and having more game meat!
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