Heading north to Figures from Bloor you’ll pass three steakhouses on Avenue Road. Despite Yorkville being one of Toronto’s most distinguished neighbourhoods, the restaurants in the area can sometimes feel indistinguishable.
Enter Patrick and Nader Marzouk of Mississauga’s &Co., brothers who both look like models but confide that they’re not-so-secretly giant geeks.
Their newest endeavor aims to infuse a little fun into the ritzy neighbourhood.
From the outside, the place looks like a compact comic book shop with a collage of illustrated pages pasted up on the walls and shelves stocked with graphic novels, figurines and other collectibles for sale.
The hostess stand is perhaps the only tell that things might not be what they seem. With the push of a button, a door swings open and through curtains, the
secret lair cocktail lounge is revealed.
In terms of decor, this place is like an alternate universe where characters and storylines collide and comic book nerds are the cool kids privy to inside jokes and already familiar with the abundance of fictional characters that make cameos throughout.
Of course, this is still Yorkville, so despite the playful motifs, Figures is still a decidedly upscale destination.
Mixologist James Bailey carries the fun theme into the cocktail menu. Taking a snipe at Storm Troopers’ terrible aim, there’s the Rarely On Target a frothy bevy that spins rum and absinthe into a tropical concoction with the addition of pineapple cordial, almond orgeat, and coconut milk.
Next, the Maleficent, a flaming libation comprising rye and whisky mixed with pineapple and activated charcoal that turns the sweet liquid into a sinister hue.
To eat, an ever-evolving collection of plates from Executive Chef Ron Stratton (ex-The Founders Club, Lobby, and Centro) who has divided the menu under the headings; earth, sea, and land.
Vegetarian options are well represented with selections such as beets two ways; a tartare dressed with herbed goat cheese and a ball of deep fried chevre dueling with a deep crimson carpaccio.
From the sea; giant cherrystone clams in a fragrant coconut and kaffir lime broth; a hot crab cake over sweet crab salad with watercress and jalapeno aioli; lobster paired with caviar. Kryptonite for gourmands if you will.
The highlight for me is the oxtail braised in Red Stripe and served over a plantain pancake. The meat is unctuous and addictive. The flavours are bold and pack a lot of punch.
While guests can ask that dishes be “coursed out,” each offering amounts to less than an entree but are more substantial than typical tapas. Prices range from $10 for a humble heirloom carrots dish up to $70 for the mighty A5 Kobe.
Address: 137 Avenue Road, Toronto