The Chase is one of five restaurants owned by The Chase Hospitality Group in Toronto. It is located at the corner of Temperance and Yonge Street, a few blocks south of Yonge and Dundas Square and just north of the financial district. Although it has been around for a of couple years, it was their announcement about their decision to devote 25 percent of their menu to plant-based dishes that had us make a reservation.
It’s quite the building and if you approach it from the west, you can see their rooftop patio and the “Cloud Gardens” at the neighbouring park (photo below). The entrance to their more casual restaurant and bar, The Chase Fish & Oyster, is on the main level on one side of an alleyway, and Little Fin, their “fast fish” space, is on the other side. To access The Chase and The Chase Fish & Oyster, you must go down the alleyway until you see the doors and one of their open kitchens. It’s unbelievable how many people there are ready and waiting to greet you and direct you once you go through the main doors. We were instructed to take the elevator to the fifth floor (the only floor you can choose in the elevator – if there were other options, I would have asked what was there and explored!).
When the elevator opened, we had a great view of their patio and skyscrapers, and found ourselves being greeted again in a bright, small, white space. We were led by the bar, and down a narrow hall, with small comfortable looking lounge chairs and tables on the right and an open kitchen on the left. At the end of this narrow walkway, it opens into a beautiful dining room with many different kinds of tables and booths, all very comfortable, and tons of windows.
We settled in and explored the menu together, deciding that we would try as many of the vegan options on the menu as we could. My mother was thrilled to not have to modify, ask a favour or order off the menu in order to dine – there were LOTS of options in appetizers, entrees, shares and sides.
We ordered 6 vegan dishes to share, before being too full to try others, but we will be going back! Plus, I couldn’t resist ordering a few oysters, which I really enjoy, especially with housemade condiments.
Here’s what we enjoyed, and you will too:
- Corn Chowder: with huitlacoche (which is in fact the fungus that grows on corn, and Chef Tyler told us to think of it as Mexican Truffle!), cauliflower, smoked sweet onion, white asparagus and popped corn cracker. It was very creamy and full of flavour and I especially liked the combination of so many textures in the one dish.
- Hearts of Palm Carpaccio: with mandolined zucchini, cucumber, falafel crumb, za’atar spiced tomatoes and chickpea aioli. This was plated beautifully, and was a really delicious alternative to a salad. I even ate and enjoyed the tomatoes, and I don’t normally like tomatoes. I highly recommend this dish for everyone to try, no matter what you normally eat.
- Spicy greens: with pomegranate vinaigrette, popped grains, green almonds and hemp hearts. Sometimes you realize that it’s the greens that make a salad, and not actually the dressing – these greens were piled high and exceptional and served with silver tongs. The crunchy topping gave the otherwise supple greens a nice crispiness in every bite.
- Mushroom Flatbread: raw and roasted mushrooms in brown rice miso on flatbread with mushroom puree, crispy shiitake, avocado herb aioli and mustard greens. This was my favourite dish, except I wish it had been 3 times the size! It’s a great size as is, it’s just that I have a big appetite! I also really enjoyed how Chef Tyler chose to mix raw and cooked mushrooms in one dish, the awesmazing blend of flavours and textures made the dish all the more enjoyable.
- Asparagus: white, green and from the sea served with a soybean and wild leek hollandaise. Although we eat organic asparagus from the market every meal at home right now, we still ordered this to try The Chase’s take on this in season veggie. There were a few stalks were lightly tempura-ed and those were a great treat. You just can’t go wrong with fried asparagus! The hollandaise was nice, but definitely didn’t taste of the wild leek, another one of my favourite spring things to indulge in.
- French Fries: we had the pecorino and herbed aioli on the side so the fries were still vegan. They were respectable!
As we were finishing our meal, I was delighted to see George Stroumboulopoulos come into the restaurant with a group. Although I didn’t want to disturb his party, I hadn’t seen him since Soupstock in 2012 (a bit of a difference in height from this photo and the one below of us!), and I wanted to say hello quickly. I re-introduced myself and not only was he genuinely kind, but he then came over to our table to talk to my parents and I, and discussed eating good, clean plant-based food. We all agreed that there aren’t many restaurants in Toronto with a commitment to health and organic plants, but there should be! The Chase is making a move towards that, I hope! I look forward to having a reason to celebrate and go back again to try their other restaurants as well!