Toronto’s heatwave doesn’t look like it will subside any time soon – on the contrary each day seems to pick up where the last left off. So in an effort to save our central air from working overtime, we’ve been putting in extra hours scouring the city’s newest eats.
Yesterday night’s opening of Acadia Restaurant couldn’t have come at a better time considering the blistering and humid air. Acadia is a quaint, Southern-chic spot just off of College Street on Clinton. Boasting a small but well-curated menu of New American/New Orleans dishes, this 40-seat resto is sure to become a faved locale for Toronto’s young professionals.
Acadia Restaurant – a venture between proprietor Scott Selland and Chef Matt Blondin; the pair worked together at Colborne Lane a couple years ago – is a modest and humble Southern States-inspired restaurant that’s at once unassuming yet at the same time fully aware of the void it fills in Toronto’s scene. Showcasing classic Louisiana cookin’ – like grits and shrimp, collard greens, cornbread, and sideribs – Acadia answers the call of Toronto’s food enthusiasts who are looking for traditional North American fare with gourmet and modern twists.
The main area seats 30, and is minimalist, with little decoration save for vintage-looking wall sconce lights and a caged wine storage unit. The black and white checkered napkins are a sweet touch, as is the heather grey wood paneling along the wall beneath the windows. On the other side of the restaurant, you’ll find 10 more seats and a stainless steel bar with exposed brick running behind fussily placed liquor bottles. Here, classic cocktail culture comes to life. With a selection of nine traditional drinks, carefully crafted and updated with contemporary flair, the beverages at Acadia set the tone for the dining experience.
Try the Ramos Gin Fizz 1888, an interesting mix of gin, cream, egg white, and orange blossom water that comes frothy and light, mild in orange flavour. The State Lines is akin to a “Southern Manhattan,” with bourbon, aperol, sweet vermouth, and luxardo maraschino. It’s a boozy cocktail definitely, but expertly balanced so it doesn’t kick you in the teeth. Coming soon will be the Punch, which will vary from time to time and serve as an aperitif to your meal.
Acadia’s menu is minimal, but it’s clear that each dish has been extensively thought-out. It’s part of a slow-growth trend in Toronto where less is most certainly more. Your meal will begin with a small plate of pickled excellence, like okra and quail’s egg and Virginia peanuts. Look for dishes that reflect Louisiana styling fused with present-day sensibilities, like Red Grouper with gulf prawn etoufee and andouille sausage, or Chesapeake Bay Crab with squash blossom and whipped buttermilk. Where most new Toronto restaurants go completely local with their suppliers, Scott and Matt source some key ingredients, like the grits, from Stateside suppliers offering the most authentic products.
Acadia Restaurant is poised to become a hot locale for classy but affordable cuisine and before-show drinks and apps. With dinner service beginning at 5:30pm six days per week (the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays), Acadia is a need-to-know spot on College West. Acadia Restaurant, 50C Clinton Street (at College), Toronto.