While my husband and I were in Toronto last month, we just happened to stumble on Rob Rossi’s brand new restaurant by pure chance. Or was it fate?
While walking back to the Roncy (Roncesvalles) apartment we had rented for the weekend from a lackluster restaurant and unsatisfying meal, we stopped at Bestellen for a few drinks to hopefully redeem the evening. I was immediately attracted to Bestellen for its warm decor, filled with Edison bulbs, warm wooden pews, metal accents, and chalk board walls. Then, its young crowd of (mostly) hipsters, good music and lively vibe drew me in closer. There was one spot left on the busy Friday night so we jumped on it.
We walked passed a large well-stocked bar and a packed meat locker to the back of the restaurant. We had originally only come from drinks, having just finished dinner, but were enticed by the simple but intriguing menu. We ordered drinks from the interesting list of barrel-aged cocktails, and decided to share an appetizer. We had the beautifully seasoned steak tartare, which came with an espelette aioli, olives, homemade grilled brioche slices and a fried quail’s egg that has been perfectly poached.
We then noticed a familiar face from the open-concept kitchen at the far end of the restaurant. It was chef and co-owner, Rob Rossi, who took second place in last year’s season of Top Chef Canada. This is when I really regretted having just finished a full meal! As it was nearing closing time, we were able to chat him up. It turns out that I love Rob as much in person as I did on television, as he is a genuinely friendly and real modest guy.
Next time I’m in Toronto, I am definitely hitting up Bestellen proper!
Here is what Toronto is saying:
There’s a fresco illustrating cuts of beef cover the main dining room wall. It’s a bit Francis Bacon, a bit Carnival Barker, which is in tune with the carne-centric menu. Exposed harvest wood ceilings and amber-hued Edison lights lend a warm inviting feel to the spacious back dining room.
One of the standouts about Bestellen is Rossi himself, laughing and joking with the prep line. That’s not a sight you’d usually find at a recently opened restaurant. It’s clear that he’s having a blast with Bestellen from soup to nuts.
The visual focus of the 80-seat space restaurant is the glassed-in dry-aging room, whose shelves are lined with hefty bone-in striploins, rib sections and Rossi’s house-cured salamis. A couple of whole pigs also hang behind the glass—this is no place for the carnophobic.
You can find Bestellen at 972 College Street (Dufferin Grove area).