Before the pandemic forced businesses across Canada to close their doors, Sushi Masaki Saito and Alo, two high-end restaurants in Toronto, were virtually impossible to get into. Known for their impeccable food, presentation and service, they had waiting lists averaging two to six months.
Now, Masaki Saito and Alo have joined the growing list of five-star restaurants that are offering customers a chance to sample their award-winning cuisine at a fraction of the cost through takeout or delivery. It’s a win for food lovers and a lifeline for independent restaurateurs and their staff.
From Halifax to Vancouver, here is a list of first-rate hot meals and gourmet meal kits to-go.
Sushi Masaki Saito
Two Michelin-starred chef Masaki Saito opened his eponymous restaurant in Yorkville last year. Normally, dinner is a minimum of $500 person (before drinks), but the chef now offers a four-item takeout menu that ranges from $58 (tekka-don, a tuna rice bowl) to $198 for edomae morikomi, a selection of premium seafood including slow-cooked octopus, abalone, and firefly squid. Preorder by phone (416-924-0888) at least one day in advance.
A couple weeks ago, a customer picked up dinner for two in his tuxedo. It was his wife’s birthday and the Alo To Go meal was his gift. Chef Patrick Kriss, whose restaurant was ranked No. 1 of Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants in 2018 and 2019, changes his menu, which feeds two to four, each week. An upcoming Mother’s Day lunch (for two to six people) includes Norwegian salmon and big-eye tuna tartare. Order through exploretock.com.
Owned by the wife-and-husband team of Annie Brace-Lavoie, who honed her skills at Toronto’s Bar Isabel and Buca, and award-winning bartender Jenner Cormier, the restaurant offers handmade pasta kits such as potato gnocchi con gorgonzola or sorprese con pesto calabrese ($15), side dishes of specialty Quebec cheese or marinated Spanish olives ($5) and desserts such as chocolate cugino or citrus tart amaretti ($5). Order online at barkismet.com.
Top Table 2U
This high-end B.C.-based restaurant group offers a curated takeout menu with favourite dishes from its Vancouver restaurants: Elisa, Blue Water Café, CinCin and Thierry. It has a different takeout menu through ABC Eats Whistler, culled from Arai, Bar Oso and Il Caminetto. Top Table 2U’s menu is extensive and includes miso sake glazed sablefish ($18) or Elisa’s whole truffle roasted chicken ($25). Order through toptable.ca.
Voted No. 2 on enRoute magazine’s best new restaurants list in 2019, Como Taperia’s takeaway menu consists primarily of Spanish wines and conservas, premium tinned fish such as sardines, tuna, razor clams, octopus and squid. The wines are 30 to 50 per cent off listed menu pricing. Conservas are 25 per cent off and range from $12 to $50 a can. Order 24 hours ahead at comotaperia.com/wineandconservas
Since opening in Outremont in 1995, La Chronique has maintained consistent fine-dining standards, and its takeaway options are no exception. Its takeout menu offers three-course ($65 a person) or four-course dinners ($85 a person), with mains such as fois gras terrine, salmon and snow crab, as well as desserts such as tiramisu or crème à chocolat. Order at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cabane à Sucre – Au Pied de Cochon
Cabane à sucre is one of Quebec’s most famous institutions and two decades ago classically trained chef Martin Picard decided to reinvent people’s notions of the humble sugar shack by offering signature meat pies and pea soup fattened with foie gras. The takeout menu include offers a wide selection of tartes (including foie gras and whole-beast pie, $28) as well as a spring menu for two ($56) with cold celery root soup, beluga lentil salad with duck heart and lettuce, duck breast confit on the bone with brandy sauce and homemade pasta. Order at aupieddecochon.ca/qc/la-boutique.
Known for their inventive interpretation of pan-Asian cuisine, chef Duncan Ly and executive chef Jinhee Lee have created a take-out menu that also includes a weekend special – most recently, sherry lemongrass glazed duck breast ($27). Appetizers include soy garlic caramel brussels sprouts ($11) and bowls such as chili prawn rice ($18). Traditional sake also available. Order by phone at 403-719-7288.
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