Origin, Toronto

The culinary powerhouse that is Claudio Aprile’s Colborne Lane is a quality-driven restaurant with an organic complexity, utmost sincerity, and unmistakable groove, soulfully blurring the lines between restaurant and science lab. Whether treating diners to an intimate dinner for two in the bustling dining room or a whirlwind of off-the-cuff whims at the Chef’s Table, an evening at Colborne Lane is always impassioned and expressively earnest. With more than a touch of wanderlust, Aprile now unleashes his new Origin, just steps away from the mothership Colborne Lane.

After a year in the making, Origin, as you would imagine, has been closely watched, blogged, tweeted and buzzed about by local foodies. And here it is, (albeit, sans liquor license), ready to offer multiple levels of gastronomic originality.

And what a gem! The space – with the heavy use of rugged, distressed woods, roughed-up metals and high-design furnishings (take a close look at the plastic monster chandelier) – is inevitably reminiscent of Colborne Lane, but the sensation here is somewhat different. The room has an exaggerated SoHo quality to it in the way it plunges an efficiently-run dining room setting into one of Toronto’s oldest buildings. With a capacity of 200, which includes a 14 person private dining area (and additional 150 with the upcoming patio along Church Street) the restaurant space smacks as both designer slick and re-purposed rustic, flourishing from high-polish wood surfaces, designer tables and black banquettes.

For Origin’s look and feel, Aprile collaborated with Toronto’s StroudFoot Inc. to create an original-looking space that respects the building’s history. To do that, the designers used wood from a demolished Distillery District building and repurposed steel to build the bulk of furnishings. A padded banquette that runs the length of one wall is paired with scuffed steel tables (glass tabletops cover metal installations), while a hanging exhibit of antique wooden leg molds hangs from overhead.

The private dining area – dubbed, Andy Warhol room, boasts a chandelier made from hundreds of little plastic toys, but all of this is hopelessly outmatched by the scenery-munching kitchen, which has become the centerpiece of the room. Taking ‘open kitchen’ to new heights, the kitchen is plopped in the centre of the room, with the exposed chef quarters on one side and a cocktail lounge area on the other. The entire island was crafted from 120 year-old wood, and regardless of where you sit in Origin, the manic energy within this area owns your attention.

And Aprile’s famously fabulous cooking? Think local-sourced contemporary small plates, but less lab-influenced than at Colborne Lane, and the truncated portion sizes are graced with lower prices. The card is divided up nicely, with sections dubbed “Chilled” (A beet and goat cheese plate with pickled red onion; Smoked salmon with Russian potato salad; Bangkok beef salad, with peanut, mango and crispy noodles); “Hot” (Chinois duck wrap with pickled cucumber and hoisin; Chorizo with manchego rice and salsa verde; Shrimp and smoked tomato and black garlic butter), and an entire section devoted to Mozzarella (Bufala Mozzarella and pear with rosemary; Fior di latte with mushrooms and truffle oil; and Burrata with pesto and romesca). Would be a shame to pass on the “Sweet” section, as these high-octane desserts cannot be ignored: there is a cryptic Guinness float with soft serve. But more interesting is the spiced chocolate pudding with frozen aerated milk chocolate. And the hot chocolate cake with candied citrus! Who knew Mr. Molecular Gastronomy could get down and dirty with the chocolate?

Address: 107 King St, Toronto, ON
Contact: 416-603-8009
Cuisine: Fusion
Area: King East
Venue: Restaurant
Hours: Mon-Sat 6:00pm-12:00am
Price Range: $$$$ (Expensive)
Payment: Master Card, Visa, American Express

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