The Reveal – Estia
Local ingredients. Simple dishes. Alluring flavours. Family-style dining. Posh setting in Yorkville.
Estia really does have it all. Dig into healthy, made-from-scratch Mediterranean fare – inspired by the regions of Greece, Southern Italy and Spain – all cooked in a wood-burning oven and over a charcoal grill.
“I think it’s got a bit of everything for everyone. Big, overflowing salads, fresh fish with no garnishes. I just want simple, straightforward food,” says executive chef Ben Heaton.
It turns out, so do we.
“Ingredient-driven, honest Mediterranean.”
He and his team are making everything from scratch – from bread, crackers, cheese, butter and yogurt, to charcuterie, pasta, sauces and desserts.
Sustainability and transparency are also of utmost importance to him. Fish and seafood is Ocean Wise certified, complete with the name of the fisherman who caught it.
Produce and other items are as local as possible: eggs from Murray’s Farm; red fife flour from K2 Milling; local goat, lamb and pork; and other local items from Fogo Island Cod and Paul & Grace of 100km Foods Inc.
With a wood-burning oven from Italy (the same one as FIGO) and four-foot charcoal grill, ingredients get imparted with a gentle smokiness. According to Heaton, “About 90 per cent of the menu touches smoke at some point.” Like a family BBQ without any of the hassle.
The large menu is full of fresh abundance by way of starters, salads, pastas, meats and poultry available as half dishes and whole, including whole fresh fish and desserts. And it’s healthy too – butter’s used in only one dish (clams steamed in white wine and fennel, served with charred bread).
Between this and the fun, casual family-style sharable dishes, Heaton likens it to, “going to someone’s house in Greece.”
In the same vein as the fresh, seasonal ingredients used in the kitchen, cocktails are made with real juices, resulting in bright, light sippers that complement the healthy fare.
Choose from a selection of sangria, martinis and other classic cocktails ($15) with a fresh Mediterranean twist.
A host of brews are on tap (including sister restaurant Batch’s seasonal selection – $7) and bottle ($7-$27), and a lengthy list of wines available by the 6- and 9-oz. glass ($13-$36) and half-litre ($40-$77). An extensive list of bottles covers everything from new world reds and whites to vintage champagnes.
Fixtures & Fittings
The dining room and second floor mezzanine delivers all the coastal feels with soft blues and greens used throughout the 4,032-square-foot space.
In pure Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harjinif fashion, the restaurant has been renovated to create a more welcoming “feminine” space with modern touches, with only the best materials used – plush velvets, tufted leather banquettes, antique rugs, herringbone wood floors. The clean aesthetic – from a carefully curated collection of art and photographs along the double height staircase to the lavish surroundings of the cozy dining room – is a welcome change from the industrial/barnboard/Edison light trend of years past.
Take in the action of the open kitchen from your seat in the lower dining room, cozy up at the expansive marble bar, or enjoy the outdoors on the lush terrace complete with pergola draped in twinkling lights.
Off the Menu
Cucumber Gimlet ($15) Fresh and light, this simple combo of Tanqueray Gin, fresh lime juice and cucumber is ideal for patio sipping.
Estia Spritz ($15) The wine spritzer gets elevated with Greek rosé – your new favourite Xinomavro Rosé – fresh lemon juice, lychee, soda, Peychaud’s Bitters and grapefruit zest.
Metaxa Mojito ($15) Metaxa 5 Star is a distinctive spirit from Greece made of grape brandy and wine. Floral, sweet and smooth, it takes the Cuban cocktail to another level, accompanied, of course, with a heavy dose of fresh lime juice and mint.
Bread and Dips (half $6, whole $12) Whatever you do, get the selection of astonishingly addictive wood-oven baked breads, which on our visit included char-grilled house sourdough, Greek water crackers dusted with sumac and herbaceous focaccia. Served with warm olives, made-in-house feta crumbled, smoked melanzana and z’aatar olive oil, it’s somehow light enough that you’ll still have room for the rest of your meal.
Antipasti ($18) In-house cured meats are also a must. Lonza cured in fennel, mergez lamb with harisa, beef bresola with red wine and cinnamon – served with olives, in-house pickles and aged parmesan – is a perfect patio companion. P.S. Chef Heaton’s drool-inducing in-house charcuterie includes: prosciutto, pork, fennel and squid ink sausages, chorizo, pancetta, fennel and blood orange lonza, pancetta, smoky andouille, and much more.
Beef Tartare ($19) Fresh, raw, diced beef tenderloin from Norwich County is accompanied by a summery fattoush salad of cucumber, olive, sumac and feta.
Octopus ($19) Grilled over charcoal with n’duja and preserved lemon, and set atop romesco, you’ll be transported to the Aegean sea.
Fennel and Radicchio (half $9, whole $17) A fascinating salad that’s as vibrant as it is balanced and light, with crushed green olives, aged provolone, radish, thyme and honey vinaigrette.
Seafood Linguine (half $16, whole $29) Toothsome noodles (all pastas are made fresh in-house) are swirled with clams, Salt Spring mussels, cold water shrimp and squid, cooked in a wood-fired cherry tomato sauce with wine from Santorini and fresh basil.
Whole fish ($MP – on day of visit $39/lb.) Whole snapper from New Zealand gets roasted in the wood-burning oven, brushed with Greek olive oil and caper oil from Santorini, and served with chermoula, a zesty sauce filled with fresh herbs and spices.
Grilled Broccolini ($14) Finishing your greens is easy when they’re this smoky, and served with an enticing Romesco sauce, toasted almonds and a bright burst of acidity from fresh lemon.
Wood Oven Potatoes ($12) You’ll wonder why you ever gave up carbs thanks to these crisp, soft tubers, enlivened with lemon and salsa verde.
Yogurt Cake ($10) Impossibly light cake served with fresh Ontario strawberries, rhubarb cordial and a dollop of yogurt is a simple, yet magical combination.
Kataifi Tart ($10) A sweet, crispy, flaky delight by way of semolina custard with pistachio, almonds, walnuts and cardamom.
The dining room accommodates 105 guests, with 90 seats on the patio, for dinner and cocktails.
At the Stove: Executive Chef Ben Heaton, Chef de Cuisine Brent Maxwell
Head Honchos: ICONINK/Ink Entertainment's Hanif Harij and Charles Khabouth - who also operate/own Patria, Weslodge, Weslodge Dubai, Byblos, Byblos Miami, Morah Dubai, FIGO, La Société Toronto, Batch, and Macho Radio Bar.
FOH: Dominik Osiesa, General Manager
Map it: 90 Avenue Rd. (in Yorkville)
Mondays to Saturdays: 5 pm to close
Sundays: 3 pm to close
Phone it in: 416-367-4141
How Cool is This?! Heaton says, “Estia is the beginning of a bigger idea I have,” so watch this space.
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