Posted: By: Karen Stevens
People have been traveling north of Steeles in search of top-tier Chinese and Korean food for ages. But with Frilu, a tasting menu restaurant founded by Chef John-Vincent Troiano (formerly Acadia, Tutti Matti, Hashimoto), there's a new reason to go uptown.
The name Frilu comes from the Norwegian word “Friluftsliv” which means “open-air-living.” A Scandinavian philosophy that embraces being in harmony with nature. Trioano’s use of seasonal, fresh and local ingredients embodies this philosophy. “95-98 per cent of everything comes from Ontario,” Troiano says. “Sometimes we use things like soy sauce or bonito flakes, but mostly everything is from Ontario.”
The $95 10-course menu showcases contemporary Canadian cuisine made with Asian flavours and techniques. There’s also an a la carte menu of small snacks like scallops, fresh bread and katsu if you’re feeling peckish.
As for the location, Troiano saw an opportunity to open up something unique. “I spent all my career working downtown and I was fed up with the hustle and bustle and the commute,” he recalls. “I grew up in Richmond Hill so we decided to give the locals (and everyone else) a downtown experience without making them travel downtown.”
A welcome snack of fresh, lightly steamed Malpeque oysters from PEI are bathed in subtly-flavoured pumpkin kombucha.
The first course is Frilu’s take on the Oreo cookie, the Lar-Eo. The savoury take on the beloved cookie is composed of two blueberry and black quinoa flour “cookies” that sandwich a whipped pork fat filling.
For the Great Lake Trout course, Ontario rainbow trout is aged in between slices of prosciutto. It’s served in a sake broth with fermented ground cherries and finished with a yeast oil.
Ground and Sea is a course built around braised and then deep fried burdock root, a treatment that is meant to mimic a traditional Japanese silken tofu dish called agedashi tofu. It is then topped with buttery-smooth sea urchin, with the entire dish resting in a pool of roast chicken jus.
The highlight of the meal is the Pumpkin Patch. This festively plated dish features a hollowed out pumpkin filled with bone marrow soufflé resting on a bed of hay. House-baked pumpkin seed bread is for dipping.
Instead of a traditional Surf and Turf, this version is lobster cooked in butter with light beef floss and a dollop of horseradish cream.
The Waterfowl Marsh dish features roasted duck finished on Japanese charcoal paired wit dehydrated kale, turnip and bonito flakes. A with a burnt onion broth poured over top.
The first of the two dessert courses, called Earth Apple, is comprised of ice cream and chips made of the Jerusalem artichoke paired with roast apple puree and topped with coffee crumble.
To finish of the meal, chef Troiano sends out the Dora Cake. This take on the traditional Dorayaki cake from Japan is filled with mascarpone, fermented pear and sake paste instead of the traditional red bean paste.