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A new restaurant is taking over the former Nuit Social space on Queen West, joining the plethora of restaurants and businesses along the popular strip.
The former Nuit Social hotspot will transform into Florette, a restaurant that promises local, seasonal ingredients, flavourful dishes and cool cocktails, with a soft open planned for October. Florette is the brainchild of owner Jerry Zhang, Chef Mann Biljani and General Manager Matt Allinson.
Biljani ran an underground tasting menu spot in Mumbai before he moved to Toronto five years ago.
"After stints at Michelin-starred restaurants in Italy and Thailand, [Biljani] found his style and it’s food that is quintessentially Toronto - local ingredients prepared simply, flavourfully and without tweezers," explains Zhang.
"General Manager Matt Allinson has previously bartended at some of the top spots in the city including Mamakas and Mother. His start in the industry was in kitchens - he brings that culinary sensibility and a focus on sustainability to the bar."
This will not be Florette's first rodeo in Toronto. In fact, Zhang, Biljani and Allinson hosted Florette pop-ups at Bar Mignonette earlier this year.
"We were overwhelmed by the love and support at our pop-ups and jumped at it when we found the perfect little space for what we wanted to make," said Zhang.
The Florette team has been working with the Denizens of Design on the new space. The space is inspired by your "stylish aunt's home," says Zhang, complete with a floral ceiling arch running the length of the restaurant, shelves lined with colourful pickling jars, plants, knick-knacks and even an intricate banquette modeled after a comfy, old couch. Visitors can expect a warm, cozy atmosphere, with dark wood panelling, vintage lighting and subdued purple tones.
Now, for menu highlights! For starters, try the corn pakoras with a sunflower seed romesco dip. Indulge in a pork chop with brandy cream, cabbage and peaches as a main. Complement the whole meal with a side of patatas nachos, which Zhang notes are like "if patatas bravas and your classic bar nachos had a baby - made with bravas sauce, nachos, cheese and garlic scapes."
Funky cocktails and natural wines are a certainty at Florette. For cocktails, there is the Roronoa, which is a riff on a Mai Tai, made with melon liqueur, wasabi pea orgeat, Japanese whiskey, overproof rum and lime juice. The Tepache Colada is a naturally carbonated pina colada twist, made with tepache, coconut oil-washed rum and coconut demarara syrup. And martini-lovers rejoice - the Buttered Corn Martini is made with brown butter washed gin, cold-smoked corn vermouth, and a secret cookout tincture.
"[The Buttered Corn Martini is] a martini meets BBQ corn on the cob," underlines Zhang.
"We try to make stuff “sneaky good.” Simple, but made well, with flavours that might surprise you. We’re excited to launch our late night program over the next two months as well, where you can sip on some cocktails or natural wines, with some cool twists on your favourite bar snacks."
A grand opening event will follow the October soft open. Renovations are still underway. Keep an eye on this space as we work to update it with an official date of opening, and follow @florette_to on Instagram.
Florette will be located at 1168 Queen Street West.