Chef Kevin Castonguay cooks with Grace
There is a new face in town over at Grace Restaurant (503 College Street) and for foodies throughout Toronto, his name may sound a bit familiar. The name is Chef Kevin Castonguay, fresh off a stint at Dave Haman’s Woodlot. After husband and wife team Leslie Gibson and Chris Hoffman (owners of Grace Restaurant) received rave reviews and recommendations from their former head chef Dustin Gallagher (of Top Chef Canada fame) regarding Castonguay, the decision was simple and easy to bring him on.
Earlier this month, Leslie and Chris decided to invite some of their friends and some selected media to preview the new Grace menu for Spring tailored by Chef Castonguay. The menu has a strong emphasis on using locally sourced and seasonal ingredients all the while making beautifully balanced dishes all could enjoy. Chef Castonguay has said, “I like to create food around the produce. We’ll use whatever is in peak season, and be creative.”
Highlights of the brand new menu included Sunchoke Chowder ($9). This dish had a smoky applewood flavor to it, making it feel as if bacon was added. But no, this is a completely vegetarian dish. The chunky hazelnut and soft potato pieces
made it feel like an all encompassing hearty meal. I won’t lie: I have since decided I want to try and make this at home. I highly doubt it will taste half as good as Chef Castonguay’s. (Psst: call me if you feel like sharing any tips & tricks)
Looking for the perfect summer salad for with a glass of white wine on a hot summer’s day? Then it would definitely be the White Bean Salad ($9) Another vegan friendly dish. Sprinkled with agave nectar, charred endive, citrus and raw sunflower seeds. This salad is fresh and leaves your mouth feeling cleansed. Each bite leaves you craving for more.
If you’re looking for the perfect main without getting too full, I would highly suggest the Stinging Nettle Open Ravioli ($18). This dish includes some beautifully sliced and seasoned duck breast, cauliflower, morel mushrooms and almonds. It’s filling while not being too heavy. The dish reminds of the seasons changing from spring to summer to fall. While one would believe the pasta would be the main star in this dish, what really comes forward in this dish is both the duck breast and cauliflower. Matched with the sauce (which is light but just enough) adds a good complexity and texture.
Finally finishing up with a little bit of dessert is absolutely necessary and the Gingerbread Ancho Ice Cream with Salted Butter Tart ($10) is precisely on point. All I can say is one bite of that ice cream was like heaven. The tart was not too salt but added the perfect ending combination of salty & sweet.
There is much more on the Grace Spring Menu with pricing ranging from $9-$34 and the patio opening up shortly. This is the perfect restaurant for a casual evening out, first date or even private event (as Grace will be renting out their space for those purposes as well). We do know one thing for certain though: if this is the course that Chef Castonguay will be taking with Grace Restaurant, I will be visiting again.