Bestellen: the wonder beast of College Street. It’s where Toronto’s in-the-know diners graze, carnivores indulge; a feast for the mighty. Meat lovers rejoice, your prayers have been answered!
Serving modern European fare and run by a team of young restaurateurs, the location is inconspicuous – certainly never something you’d stumble upon. In a city speckled with entertainment hubs, the west end of College Street is a road less travelled. A humble sign made of sun-bleached plywood hangs outside and says only two words: Bestellen. Meat.
Void of pretence but loaded with style, raw wood and exposed brick dominate the interior. Salted fish, whole pigs and other curing animal flesh hangs within the glass enclosed dry-room across from the bar. The t-shirt clad servers and bartenders are enthusiastic and friendly, just hoping you will ask about the many sophisticated menu options. The early evenings are quiet and bright, buck-a-shuck oysters providing sustenance for a perfect (albeit empty) cocktail hour every day from 6 – 7.
The later hours bring the crowds, and Bestellen is built for crowds. The dancing candlelight reflects around the room and loud, sexy rock rhythms add to the rustic mood. A whole roasted suckling pig (on three days notice and for parties of at least seven only) and a 32oz Cote du Beouf served with roasted bone marrow grace the menu – feasts for large numbers to share.
More intimate groups are far from suffering. Aside from oysters, the sea-bound options include grilled octopus, crispy fried fritto misto, and browned seared scallops. For him, the scallops were average, but the trimmings made the dish. A tangy ramp aioli and ramp tempura complemented the scallops with intense flavour and a crisp texture. Pickled honey mushrooms give the plate a playful look and add to the tang. For her, the burger. Cooked to your liking (she chose medium rare), the beef is served between freshly made brioche. Warm, melted butter is brushed across the top. House-made pickles, caramelized onions and melted raclette top the beef. Eat this monster strategically – it will crumble between your fingers, juices will drizzle out the sides. $18 for a burger is steep, but there’s no denying the quality is worth it.
The all-encompassing theme of Bestellen is one all young professionals can relate to – effort and talent produce exceptional results. These guys are doing things right. There’s no gimmick, no qualifier. It’s just good.
For a Business Meeting – 8/10. I would bring prospective clients, I would bring colleagues, I would bring my boss. Everybody in your network will be impressed by Bestellen, and by extension, you.
With a Group – 9/10. Incredible feast options and diverse cocktails are perfect for large groups looking for a good time and broader horizons.
On a Date – 9/10. Great spot to take it to the next level. The atmosphere and cocktails set you on the right path every time!
For a Business Meeting – 7/10. The distance and location makes it slightly inconvenient for those who work in the office tower hub, but Bestellen’s uniqueness lends itself well to certain professional situations. Celebratory meals or dinners where you’re looking to impart a forward-thinking brand make Bestellen a great choice.
With a Group – 9/10. One of the top group dining locations in Toronto today. Not only do they welcome you, they encourage your presence. Guess what? They even take reservations (gasp!). Make sure there are limited vegetarians in the flock.
On a Date – 6/10. The atmosphere sets a sexy tone but I’m not sure the portion sizes do the same. The “Do you want to go back to my place?” conversation following dinner may imply a desire to sink into an immediate food coma on the coach. If you do go to Bestellen, I’d suggest sharing one dish to optimize the chances of romance later on.
His last word
It’s pricey, and it’s worth it. They’re serving sriracha aioli and ramp tempura as sides. There is just no slacking here.
Her last word
Support your fellow YP entrepreneurs, Toronto! You’ll never find a better reason to do so.
Find Bestellen at 972 College Street. Photos courtesy Bestellen.