June 15: Ursa ★★★★
The website is a mono-chromatic page that leads nowhere and there is no ursa (major or minor) on the menu. Walking in, the Queen west-west location looks like the exposed light-bulb kitsch of yester-year with the same bar-dominated formulation as Hopgoods, Yours Truly, and so on. This critically acclaimed spot has made it to Toronto Life, The Globe and enRoute (after Edulis), which is what draw the bankers out to the banlieues with their girlfriends. But the foodies will come from the banlieues for the complexities, like the vials of soy milk and whey with enough tart to balance out the clean home-made tofu. The other deconstructions are visually popping and, in extraordinary mixings, can be hard to palate. But it’s an excellent appetizer worthy of gastronomy. The duck is beautifully pink but, by itself, not outstanding. The black rice is a weighty winner, brought to the fore by the perky rhubarb. The rhubarb and leek-like vegetable make a reprise in the dessert as a glorified granola-yogurt mix. It can be too forward at times, when the goal should be equilibrium. Ursa employs brightly lit ingredients and often connects the dots even when it is difficult to envision.
~$70 for three courses