I did not have high hopes for Actinolite, #4 on Toronto Life’s Top 100 Restaurants of 2018. I looked up the menu online and thought rutabaga?! ugh! Boy was I in for a surprise. It was a small unassuming restaurant on a corner, we almost walked right by it.
Apparently the amount of food between the full tasting menu and the truncated version was about the same, you just got to try less. We went with the full option. Dinner came with information: all about the restaurant and the concept, and then little bits of info about each dish. From the get-go it seemed we were in for a culinary adventure. The first dish was a broth with BC mussels and wild foraged greens. They lost Brent at the first part and me at the second. That is, until I had a spoonful of broth. My hatred of veggies and greens is slowly being chipped away. My worry came back when the dish was rutabaga with walnuts. Once again, we were both pleasantly surprised. The bread with miso butter was another standout, who knew you could improve on butter. BUTTER! Come on! Another dish featured wild mushrooms and broth, I was all for it and it tasted like Christmas.
Another dish was just a potato, with some sauce and fried kale (with flower sprouts). As the chef, yes the chef was there all night, talked about it we both felt like dinner was losing its zeal. One bite and again we were wrong. It was incredible. Seeing how passionate the chef/owner was about the food as he talked, it really came through in the dishes. Towards the end we strongly debated if Actinolite was better than Yasu and Alo, two of our top eating experiences. The debate has not been formally settled. But the fish with a fried young onion sprout and bulb dish really made us question the ranking. With our bill we were given mini-desserts of sponge toffee lightly tossed in mushroom powder (not a typo)… they were so freakin good. As was the regular dessert (berries and tart cream). Well that part, the mini do’ughnuts fell a little flat compared to everything else.
Man was I ever wrong to judge a restaurant based on it’s menu and options.