Earth, Toronto

After the wickedly popular Cibo closed its doors in the 80’s, it became a sport to try to guess how long each subsequent restaurant would last in the troubled restaurant space at 1055 Yonge. Myriad restaurants have come and gone within the past two decades, with very few of them lasting more than a year (I myself lost fifty bucks on the sub-par 1055, which lasted almost a year past my wager of two months). The last restaurant in this space was Plakutta (a pic to trigger your memory), which was largely ignored from day one. ‘

Never again would the intensity of Cibo – which had a long-running battle-for-the-A-listers catfight with the infamous West Side Grill across the street – be repeated. Since those illustrious days, area dwellers would witness a constant rotation of restaurants come and go, referring to the space at Yonge and Roxborough as “the cursed space on the wrong side of the road”.

Today, Ed Ho (owner of Globe Bistro) opens the doors to said space, re-finished, re-thought and, in the end, re-branded as Earth. Well-known for whipping the Café Brussel space on the Danforth into his beloved Globe, can Ho really bring some magic to this address? Can anyone, at this point, lure the fickle foodies who’ve long written off Rosedale as a dining destination? It’s a task too horrifying for words.

Substantially more casual than Globe Bistro, the space still looks as it always has, but it features a new rustic look and feel: Unadorned solid maple butcher-block tables fill the dining room while an open-kitchen with a wood oven takes over the entire back. A large lounge area for cocktails and Champagne occupy the front. Little latticed globe chandeliers hang throughout the dining room.

The journey to take over the problematic space began mid October when Ho was shown the vacant 1055 Yonge space. He knew the sordid history, as did everyone in town, but with the memory of a visit to Montreal’s Au Pied du Cochon still lingering in his head, the restaurateur knew that if anyone can make this room tick, it would be him.

“It is more the bistro that I always wanted to build originally,” says Ho, which is purely admirable. But if anything can break that death curse, it would be Globe’s Executive Chef Kevin McKenna ‘s well-edited card of the most unpretentious fare these walls have ever seen. The menu is seasonal, using exclusively local ingredients to create simple, rustic dishes that combine culinary creativity with comfort food simplicity. Local produce is used whenever possible, from the little plate of John’s elk tartare with quail’s egg ($12.) and the Cumbrae pork belly with smoked walnuts ($9.) to the Crispy Trillium Farms speckled trout ($10.) and elk onion soup with brie crostini ($8.).

Mains include a Creemore braised beef cheek ($22) over a mound of Benedictine blue mash, an elk venison shepherd’s pie with roasted root vegetables and tyme, and the Lake Huron walleye , plated with squash, spinach and red pepper butter. It gets better; come here on a Sunday night and you’re offered a special that reflects whatever’s just been dragged in from the farm – and they give you plenty of it. Think Muscovy Duck one Sunday, while a Perth County rack of lamb is on tap the next. Anything goes. But that anything will be high end.

Chef McKenna’s menu of rustic fare might be the key to unlocking Earth’s ‘s considerable potential. It’s already a solid bet to improve this location’s luck. It all begins tonight, and the stress is on. All restaurateurs – including Michael Stadtländer – are watching how this thing plays out.

Address: 1055 Yonge St, Toronto, ON
Contact: 416-551-9890
Cuisine: Comfort Food
Area: Rosedale
Venue: Restaurant, Lounge
Hours: Daily from 5:00 – 11:00pm
Price Range: $$$ (Comfort Food)
Payment: Master Card, Visa, American Express

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