Most influential restaurant: Three Small Rooms. It was Toronto’s first sophisticated restaurant, both in the luxe simplicity of its décor and the ambitions of its cooking.
Worst trend: Everything was flambeéd tableside – so silly!
Most influential restaurant: Lotus. Susur Lee burst on the scene like a firecracker, incinerating our preconceptions of haute cuisine.
Worst trend: Far too much butter and cream in wannabe French food.
Most influential restaurant: Thai Shan Inn (still in business, but now at 2404 Dufferin St.) was important because it taught Toronto that Asia was more – so much more! – than Chinese food.
Worst trend: Chefs took fusion too far. They crossed Cal with Ital and Thai with French for some regrettable results.
Most influential restaurant: Adriatico (now defunct) was important in general because it prefigured the turn to pure fresh ingredients with a minimum of adornment, and in particular because it majored in fresh fish – something Toronto discovered in the ’90s.
Worst trend: Wolfgang Puck opened an outpost in Toronto. It was awful and it didn’t last, but it symbolized corporate chefs pollinating us with their mediocre franchises.
2010s (so far)
Most influential restaurant: Grand Electric, for the big sparkling flavours of its every dish.
Worst trend: No reservations, no comforts, no ambience.
Editor's note: Thai Shan Inn remains open. Incorrect information appeared in the original version of this article.
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