He’s only 25 (though he looks about 16). Yet, somehow he’s been cooking a long time. He learned initially from his Sicilian mother while growing up in Calgary. At the ripe old age of 15 he headed to Lyon. To study under the culinary God, Paul Bocuse. There is a lot of French technique and nouvelle cuisine inspiration in his cooking. He used extraordinarily fresh (and mostly local) ingredients. Dish elements are carefully and, for the most part, only lightly cooked to preserve their integrity and natural flavors. The langoustine, poached for only 15 seconds in a lemongrass broth served with green radish and Thai peppers, were divine. I could easily eat nothing else for the rest of my life.
After his stint with the longest holder of the prestigious Michelin three star ranking, Julian headed to Chicago. There he worked under American three star chef, Curtis Duffy at the famed, and sadly now closed, restaurant Grace. After France and the US, Julian came home to Canada. He joined Patrick Kriss’s team at Alo. One of my personal favorite places. He credits the award winning no-choice-only-tasting-menu success of Alo for changing what diners would accept in Toronto, making Ten possible. His last stop was Momofuku. When they closed he decided it was time to go out on his own.
Comfy chairs line up along a low counter, sushi bar style. Julian prepares food right in front of you. It is an intimate casual experience; questions are encouraged. He patiently and enthusiastically answered every one of my thousand inquiries.
He describes his food as vegetable forward. I learned this means most dishes are made from vegetables, but it’s not the same as vegetarian. Though it can be if you want. I was a bit worried…would I feel hungry or worse, unsatisfied? A resounding ‘no’ to both. The cassoulet made with white beans which have slow cooked with lemon peel and seared mushroom is topped with shaved black truffle, toasted buckwheat and nasturtium. This main course was so rich and flavorful, I didn’t miss the traditional duck or sausage one bit. His made every morning from a three year old starter (instead of dried yeast) sourdough brioche is the perfect vehicle for getting the could be in France it’s so yummy ‘healthy’ butter to your mouth. Fresh creamery perfection flavored with reduced carrot juice… I had to ask for a second helping.
The wine list is small, ever changing and adventurous. Wine parings are matched to the day’s menu or you can order by the bottle or glass. Cocktails can be enjoyed before dinner in the small lounge at the front overlooking College Street. You can also BYOB for a reasonable corkage fee.
Make a reservation soon. I predict they are going to become very hard to get! The ten course meal is $115.