Edulis Restaurant

169 Niagara St,
Toronto, ON M5V 1C9
About the Restaurant

Taking over the former Niagara Street Café space is Edulis, a charming new bistro from Tobey Nemeth and Michael Caballo. After a veritable tour of the world saw the married duo working and living in Italy, Spain, Panama and Vancouver, it was time to find a place to call home. Last year, when they caught wind that Anton Potvin was selling the Niagara space, they figured it was just what life had in store.

Caballo helmed the Café’s kitchen for three years under Potvin’s ownership (from 2005 to 2008), while Nemeth had been popping in for brunch with her best friend as long as 10 years ago.

“It’s a place that’s been woven throughout our lives,” Nemeth says.

Remnants of the former café have been incorporated into the new décor scheme, alongside finds reminiscent of their travels. Hand-me-downs include the gently scooped wooden stools as well as vintage chairs and leather banquettes. Hand-painted Mexican talavera tiles front the tiny bar, and the couple opted to splurge on the tabletops, wishing to do away with table linens.

“We wanted something evocative of the classic European bistro, so we went with Italian Carrara marble,” Nemeth says. Blue-and-white gingham napkins add colour to the table settings, while antique botanical artwork — including the namesake boletus edulis mushroom — lines the walls.

With regard to the food, an à la carte menu changes daily, but the carte blanche ($50 per person) — wherein Caballo sends out five to six courses of whatever he’s fancying that day — is most representative of the restaurant’s crux.

“We want people to give in to enjoyment, and leave the rest to us,” Nemeth tells us.

For vegetarians, a meat-free carte blanche is available, though advance warning is recommended. Caballo is an ingredients-driven chef, which shapes the course of the daily menu. Some favourites — like the Chantecler chicken baked in hay — will likely make repeat appearances.

When we stopped by, offerings included octopus fideuà ($20 per person), a classic dish from the southern region of Spain known for its paella. Rather than using rice, fideuà features short egg noodles; this version includes B.C. octopus, wild leeks and hazelnuts.

Other picks included a lightly smoked herring à l’huile ($14), paired with dijon potatoes, and a spring salad ($11) starring lots of foraged wild greens (much of it done by Caballo) drizzled with a wild leek vinaigrette and topped with pecorino fresco.

To complement the food, the pair has put together a wine list featuring versatile bistro wines — they’re huge fans of Norman Hardie’s Cab Franc.

“We love simple and beautiful,” Nemeth notes.

Published on: May 11, 2012