Montecito: Fresh California Eating in Downtown Toronto

What a difference a couple of months make.

At the beginning of June, when we gave you a first look of Montecito (299 Adelaide St. W.), the Ivan Reitman backed restaurant – that is not coincidentally steps from TIFF Bell Lightbox – you needed to use your imagination.

You needed vision. And patience. And scope.

Well, actually, you didn’t. It turns out Reitman and Chef Jonathan Waxman had enough for all of us.

The beautiful new space features everything from a video wall (quietly playing picturesque scenes from Montecito, California) to no less than three chef’s tables, a completely private, closed off dining room, and a Hollywood walk of fame on the way to the washrooms (think: behind the scenes photos from Reitman’s most memorable films).

Despite all the glamour, however, it’s Montecito’s food that steals the show.

As we told you in our first article, Waxman has made his name as a pioneer of California cuisine. That means fresh, local, and clean dishes that can change almost daily.

When we’re touring the kitchen we’re a shown a fresh bowl of four types of wild mushrooms. There’s a brief conversation between GM Jimson Bienenstock and executive sous chef Gaetano Ferrara and it’s decided that a mushroom pizza will be on the menu that night.

Despite its nearly 400-seat capacity, this is how Montecito works.

The goat cheese polenta we have is full of flavour – and fully vegetarian to boot. But if you want to get your taste buds on it, you’d better order it in the next few weeks before its ingredients are out of season and the minds and palettes behind Montecito move on to fresher things.

Same goes for the duck confit, as well as the heirloom tomato and buffalo mozzarella salad we have. They’re both delicious, but the clock is ticking on their spot on the menu too.

And perhaps that’s what’s so exciting about heading to Montecito. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for lunch, brunch, dinner, or late night snacks, the menu is constantly changing to suit the season.

Of course, an extensive collection of alcohol doesn’t hurt much either.

Whether it’s wine by the glass (more than 20), craft beer (four on tap – more in bottles), or spirits (over 75 different options), we promise Montecito has everything you could ever want to go with your meal – including several specialty cocktails comprised of ingredients just as fresh as those you’ll find in the kitchen.

California has finally come to Toronto. And we couldn’t be happier.


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