Tasting in Toronto

Tasting menus are chefs’ novels, their Big Ideas, their statements of purpose and intent

Today, we’re delighted to announce we’re partnering with Peoples Eatery. They will be accepting both Tab payments and reservations. More so, we’re excited to help promote their wonderful tasting dinners, which will find a semi-permanent home in the centre of our app. Fundamentally, we believe that the proliferation of restaurants that promote tasting menus are vital to a city’s culinary identity, and we would like to aid in forging that identity.

To the dismay of many in the Toronto hospitality industry tasting menus in this city have been met with marginal consumer interest. It’s surprising since, “more tasting menu restaurants are opening in New York than ever before” according to New York Times food critic Pete Wells. Undoubtedly, certain restaurants have flourished, like Edulis, or sustained, like Splendido, but the demise of wonderful restaurants like Yours Truly and The Grove clearly shows that Toronto is a city that prefers bite sized tastes over nuanced tastings.

Several factors could be to blame. It’s possible that six large dishes on a table may make for a better overhead shot on Instagram rather than one small plate amidst a pic-collage. It’s also logical that people in Toronto do not have have as much discretionary spending power as those in major American cities, and, like true Canadians, allocate their spending towards dining in a conservative manner. But, ultimately, our belief is that as much as our newfound civic culinary identity is burgeoning it is still very much in its infancy, and tasting menus have felt the brunt of our youthful petulance.

Whether it be right or wrong cities are invariably defined by their most prominent restaurant: Chicago: Alinea / New York: Eleven Madison Park / Copenhagen: Noma. A common theme runs throughout: tasting menus. These beacons of culinary excellence are only possible because their cities, and diners, whether they be local or visitors from afar, are willing to put themselves at the whim of world class chefs and allow for the purest forms of a chefs creativity and control. Admittedly, a Toronto restaurant has yet to emerge on such a global scale. That moment, and that restaurant, is coming. The velocity with which it emerges though is directly tied to the internal development of our city’s dining community and a microcosm of that will be our acceptance of tasting menus.

Incredible chefs and restauranteurs are collectively responsible for the recent meteoric rise of unique and compelling dining experiences in Toronto. Yet, there seems to be a dissonance between some of their lofty aspirations and what we, consumers, have accepted as worthy of our interest. At Tab, we only hope to begin bridging that gap by allowing for these tasting dinners to be both more prominent and accessible, thereby playing a very small part in the maturation process of our dining culture.

To that end, we’re elated to promote the tasting menus at Peoples as well as those of other incredible restaurants within Toronto. Specifically, we’re delighted to begin working with Adrian, Dave, Matt, and Dustin. We hope, in turn, that as we evolve as a company, we can play a small part in helping the Toronto dining community achieve the same trajectory as our wonderful city.

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