We jumped at the opportunity during the TIFF madness to eat at a restaurant down the street that I’ve been eyeing up since I moved here. Ricarda’s, located in the super pretty Entertainment One building on the corner of Peter and Richmond streets, might be the prettiest place in the neighborhood. The dinner itself was delish and I’ll get into more detail in a moment, but first I’d like to mention the neat story of how Ricarda’s came to be. What is a true project of passion, Ricarda’s is named after the owner’s wife and business partner. With the dream of creating a dining and lifestyle experience that’s perfect from morning to night, the couple embarked on a journey to fulfill their vision in a restaurant rich part of Toronto, the entertainment district. Although it has undoubtedly been hard, their passion and devotion to this venture has resulted in a truly wonderful dining experience only one year after opening.
Ricarda’s is more than just a restaurant. Ian and I have stopped by on many occasions to enjoy their instagram-worthy morning coffee and the delicious baked goods at the café next to their open concept kitchen. If you’ve ever stepped inside the EOne atrium you’ll know that it is seriously beautiful, and we were excited to learn that Ricarda’s actually operates the entire space themselves, so you can actually book it for events (hello dream birthday party!). In addition to the restaurant and bakery, there’s Attico, a cocktail bar nestled on a balcony overlooking the atrium surrounded by glass and light. Although I haven’t actually been there in the evening when it’s open for drinks, you’d better believe that we’ve been up there for photo ops on more than one occasion lols. Ultimately, Ricarda’s is perfectly set up to entertain guests from sunup till late night, so once you go in you really don’t need to leave.
Our culinary guide for the evening was General Manager Michael, whose passion for the restaurant was inspiring. Although he surely had other work to attend to, we didn’t want him to leave the table. A successful restauranteur himself, Michael moved from Singapore last fall after seeing the restaurant and falling in love with the project. His enthusiastic, but unassuming love for food and wine not only helped us through the menu, but was contagious. I felt so much love for every bit. The Ricarda’s staff are all incredibly warm, knowledgable, and so happy to share the wonderful restaurant experience they’re all proud of.
We started off, as you do, with an aperitif. You can probably guess, I went straight for the French 75, Monica the Old Fashioned, and Ian the Manhattan. They were all seriously beautiful (took way too many photos) and tasted yummy too. We went all out for the the starters, and each made my tastebuds do a happy dance. The Veal Carpaccio was light and delicate. Served with feta (nom) and an incredibly delicious truffle honey, the dish was made even better with a glass of rose from the Loire valley. Next was the Candied Walnut Salad, the perfect summer dish. With walnuts aplenty, creamy gorgonzola, sweet figs, crunchy apple slices, and tomatoes adding a bit of acid, it was legit the best salad I’ve had all summer. Although I couldn’t bring myself to try the Foie Gras, Ian says that it was wonderfully rich without being an overpowering flavour.
Now it’s time for the main course. I still can’t believe we managed to eat it all (I mean, I sort of can #fatty). First up, Ricarda’s Pappardelle. What I loved about this dish was the flavour of the mushrooms in the sauce alongside the incredible cheese, which is really saying something because I don’t even like mushrooms. With beautiful homemade pasta, this is the kind of dish you just want to curl up with because it’s like a warm hug for your tummy. We also shared the Crispy Baby Red Snapper, served on a bed of the most incredible sautéed spinach, garlic, tomato, and parsnip. Although Snapper can be quite light in flavour, the chef managed to make even the strong flavours of spinach light and complimentary. We were blown away by this and have no idea how they did! Rounding out the mains was the Grilled Duck Breast, the highlight of which was the delicious brussels sprouts when mixed in the artichoke and orange sauces. I could have eaten it forever.
At this point we would have eaten anything Michael recommended, so although we were seriously full, we welcomed a sweet finale. As a Milk Chocolate Pavlova, a Warm Brioche Pudding, a Pistachio & White Chocolate Gift Box, and a Beet Goat Cheescake made their way to the table, I sipped on a cocktail named after Michael’s “laissez faire” attitude in which he is often caught saying “never mind” in a moment of stress. The Nevermind cocktail was a perfect gin drink with St. Germain, camomile, lavender, and lemon AKA my form of beverage heaven. Alongside this drink, each dessert was a dream and I honestly couldn’t pick a favourite. I essentially went around the plate taking a bite from each and continuing this process until the cycle was complete. I think Ian had to half carry me home. It was the most delightful evening and I went to sleep with a smile on my face.
We seriously can’t wait to go back on Sunday morning for Ricarda’s Jazz brunch, where $30 gets you access to the beverage buffet including caesars and bubbles and live music. I mean, best Sunday ever!!!