As Toronto’s luxurious and chic Yorkville neighbourhood, Hazelton Hotel’s ONE Restaurant stands as one of the dining centrepieces of it all under the direction of one of Toronto’s most renowned chefs and restaurateurs, Mark McEwan.
Now enter McEwan’s young talent who has been there since day one of ONE Restaurant: Chef Darby Piquette has been making waves in the McEwan Group since he took on the role of Chef de Cuisine with his first undertaking being the most recent Winterlicious 2015 menu. He was able to turn it into the most successful Winterlicious menu at ONE Restaurant.
And he’s only 25 years old.
With Chef Darby’s focus on North American shared plates in a family dining experience, here’s a round-up of some of the many delicious bites from his latest menu.
With high ceilings and large bay windows, comfortably dim ambiance with textured designs by award-winning firm, Yabu Pushelberg, the stage is set for hassle-free fine dining in a relaxed setting.
Showcasing a dazzling and refined array of contemporary dishes, Chef Darby Piquette and ONE Restaurant focus on the finest in fine cuisine. Naturally, Darby works with seasonal, high-quality ingredients that you’re familiar with and the technical skill required to be on the McEwan team.
Highlights of the night included the famous lobster spoons consisting of generous portions of lobster, butter braised with vermouth. Then there was also the grilled octopus chickpea, chorizo aioli, piquillo peppers and chili vinaigrette.
Ingredients take centre stage in humble but delicious side dishes such as kale with sliced chili peppers, garlic, lemon and gremolata; and roasted seasonal mushrooms garlic, thyme and aged balsamic.
One standout in the selection of mains is the roasted sea bream with the option of having it roasted whole, served complete with the fish head and tail, which I happily accept having grown up on this from Chinese restaurants. Not for everyone, but definitely an bold, interesting choice on the menu.
Chef Darby’s personal favourite is his venison dish: a cocoa rubbed venison short loin, with seared foie gras, heirloom squash ravioli, wilted spinach, agro dulce cippolini onions, dark chocolate, fried sage, and a black currant veal jus.
His girlfriend, Amy, happens to be the Head Pastry Chef at ONE Restaurant. Her desserts did not disappint either including the vanilla buttermilk panna cotta, citrus compote, candied mint, crisp meringues, poppy seed tuile and blood orange sorbet.
And then there was the presentation of the richly decadent Valrhona Chocolate Cake, a great centrepiece to put an exclamation point to the end of a great meal.
Chef Darby has been with ONE Restaurant since its inception so it’s great to see Mark McEwan promoting within his own ranks, no matter what age.
On his biggest lesson learned while under the wing of Mark McEwan, Chef Darby Piquette says,
“None of this really matters, the food cost, the labour, the office work. The most important thing in a restaurant is making sure that every single plate that leaves the kitchen is as close to perfection as we can possibly make it. Without clean plates and hot, tasty food, there is no satisfaction. And without satisfied guests, where would we be?”
Read the Q&A with Darby Piquette on the McEwan Group blog here.
One Restaurant is available for various private dining configurations with their intimate Neil Young Room and the elegant Yorkville Room. For details click here.
ONE Restaurant is located within the Hazelton Hotel in Yorkville at 116 Yorkville Ave.
Mon to Fri: 11:30am-4:30pm
Mon to Sun: Service from 4:30pm
Sat, Sun, Holidays: 10:30am-4:30pm
Mon to Fri: 6:30am–11:30am
Sat, Sun, Holidays: 6:30am-10:30am
Bar Menu available daily from 4:30pm to late
For more info about ONE Restaurant visit http://one.mcewangroup.ca
Lead photo by Nick Lee. Photos below by Brilynn Ferguson courtesy of McEwan Group except where indicated.