A new restaurant and bar recently opened up in the discreet Templar Hotel and it’s starting to get some buzz with adventurous foodies in the city. The hotel itself is a bit of a curiousity as it often goes under the radar with locals yet it attracts a very sophisticated crowd of those in the know. Within mere steps to the TIFF Bell Lightbox, this hidden gem is a popular spot during one of the buzziest times of the year. And this is now the home to PARCAE.
PARCAE (pronounced par-say) is the new restaurant that has taken over the cove underground (formerly Monk’s Kitchen) in the hotel.When you arrive it’s as though you’ve been given secret access to a private club. You’re warmly greeted in the lobby of the Templar and accompanied past a door that first leads to the bar area. The lighting is sexy and dark. The vibe is humming with activity and upon my first visit a soothing scent of “hello and won’t you stay awhile?” draws me in.
But that’s just the beginning of the journey down a flight of steps to this cozy gem. So, who is at the kitchen’s helm here? It’s not one, but actually two reputable chefs that have opened up PARCAE. Chef Danny Hassell is a familiar name who’s worked in top restaurants in Toronto and Montreal including Buca, Bar Buca and Sugar Shack. He’s got a way of pushing the creative envelope in his dishes giving us an exploration into some very interesting ingredients along side his love for nose-to-tail cooking methods.
Chef Joseph Awad worked his way through Italy with top chefs in the country including Attilio Bacheti and Massimo de Porzio. His appreciation for local ingredients and skills then brought him back to Canada where he settled in Quebec working in popular restaurants including Au Pied De Cochon and Sugar Shack. With all his experience, he’s developed a unique style of Quebecois and modern Italian cuisine and claims his position as the Sous & Pastry Chef at PARCAE.
The cocktails had me like a kid in a candy store! But since I was totally indecisive I had the staff pick a cocktail for me and I’m glad I did! Since I’m not one to guzzle drinks but rather savour the flavours and enjoy. I adored this cocktail that had a nice zing from ginger beer but I also had heard from the people seated next to our table that the Illuminati is definitely worth trying – a gin based drink that is sipped through a lavender foam.
The menu is an adventure full of interesting ingredients and cooking techniques. Several unique dishes are unpredictable. For example, the HK Chicken Leg is not what you think. Rather a foot but the skin is fried to a crispy thin wafer but also pulled off the bone and used as casing for the accompanying sausage. It’s old world techniques but brought into a contemporary dish. Take note: dishes are meant to be shared and the menu changes seasonally. Lead in photo (shown above)of live Sea Urchin is garnished with a sturgeon chip.
PARCAE is located at 348 Adelaide Street West inside the Templar Hotel.
Lamb brains are deep fried accompanied with cicoria and mushrooms.
Horse Carpaccio is carefully sliced and served with duck egg yolk, mushrooms, leeks, and pepita seeds.
Artichokes fried with a nice outer crunch served warm with lemon and red mullet bottarga (red mullet is a fish often found in the Mediterranean Sea and bottarga is the roe)
Duck Ravioli with mascarpone, tomato, olive oil and hazelnuts top with a fried sage leaf.
Radish Salad is a refreshing dish with fennel, orange and red wine vinegar.
Braised octopus and Bone Marrow accompanied with beef tendon chips, crispy seasoned bread (could have used a few more pieces to savour more of the bone marrow.)
Italian doughnuts filled with raspberry rolled in a vanilla sugar served warm.
Poor man’s sticky sweet toffee pudding topped with house made vanilla ice cream and a touch of vanilla salt.