Experience Sorrel Restaurant & Bar situated in the heart of Rosedale.
A neighbourhood gem for casual elegant dining.
French Mediterranean inspired menu complemented by an extensive wine list.
The perfect destination to dine, socialize and celebrate a private event.
MONDAY - SATURDAY 4 - 11pm
The Toronto Star
Life / Food & Wine / Restaurants By: Amy Pataki Restaurant Critic, Published on Fri Feb 20 2015
A bigger, stronger Sorrel restaurant rises from the fire. After a fire ruined its Yorkville location last year, Sorrel reinvented itself as a bigger, busier and arguably tastier restaurant in Rosedale. Last year, Faro Chiniforoush’s dream went up in flames.
A three-alarm blaze destroyed his Yorkville restaurant Sorrel last January, requiring more than 60 firefighters to subdue.
The former Prego della Piazza chef had opened a basement dining room on Yorkville Ave. The fire, which started in a hair salon above, destroyed the four-story Victorian building. Sorrel was ruined as much by smoke as by the water pumped in to fight the fire.
“It was devastating. It took a year-and-a-half to build it up. Everything was gone in one day,” says Chiniforoush of the $450,000 in damages, mostly covered by insurance.
But, like the mythic phoenix, Sorrel rose from the ashes. It reinvented itself as a bigger, busier and arguably tastier restaurant.
Sorrel relocated last August to the Rosedale space long occupied by Pastis Express, where owner Georges Gurnon ran the room in a manner both prickly and charming. The soft-spoken Chiniforoush is less divisive but also more reticent. He stands back near the bar, reading glasses hanging from his neck, quietly directing staff and scanning tables with the dark eyes of a Byzantine icon.
The room is blissfully warm on cold nights and hums with conversation. Gone are the sunny yellow walls of Pastis, replaced by a cheerless grey palette that echoes the dirty snow banks outside on Yonge St. Yet Sorrel avoids grimness thanks to the glow of candlelight (fake) on every starched tablecloth and the bright pashminas (real) worn by soignée diners. (This is Rosedale, after all. Even the barflies wear Burberry.)
With 72 seats compared to 40 before the fire, Sorrel is a bigger operation. The bistro menu now encompasses not only French classics like a spot-on steakfrites ($26) but newer dishes like excellent fried chicken ($24).
It’s a no-brainer to start each meal with shucked Malpeque oysters brought to the table over ice, a bargain at $1 a piece.
Just as reliable: Anything fried, be it puffy rings of panko-breaded calamari ($16) or crisp chicken livers ($14) that bring to mind the best kind of fairground treats: rich, rare and artery-clogging. In that vein, so to speak, the kitchen under chef de cuisine Samad Usin shows a dab hand searing foie gras ($24).
This is not cutting-edge dining. The food is straightforward, without surprises. Then again, Sorrel doesn’t aspire to hipness; some dishes, like the scallops splashed with anise liqueur, are very much of the ’80s, as is the music playing overhead. The bow-tied young bartender is the only element of Sorrel with downtown style.
The letdowns have nothing to do with staying current. Chilean sea bass ($36) leaks the white goo normally found in frozen fish. A cheese course ($18) is cold. For a restaurant formal enough to change cutlery for each course (a different pattern each time), it should be a simple matter to put out a sharp knife for the hanger steak. Or bring everyone’s entrées to the table at the same time.
Then there are the okay frites, served in the kind of white paper bag used for cookies at the corner bakery. It’s not hard to find chic printed paper to make cones; even using metal serving bowls, the way Bistro Tournesol does, would look better.
Still, Sorrel has its moments. That fried chicken, for one, is better than many on Ossington Ave., the meat benefitting from a long soak in buttermilk. Linguine ($22) may not have the naturalistic look of today — not with that precious ring of fat Manila clams around the perimeter of the plate — but the pasta is properly al dente and oiled.
Duck confit ($28) is as it should be, with crisp skin and flesh as slippery as melting ice. Rapini is nicely blasted with oil and garlic. Tenderloin ($36) cuts like butter; in fact, the butter curls that come with the bread basket are firmer than this Canadian Prime beef, aged six weeks. A port glaze takes it over the top.
Sorrel isn’t the only Yorkville restaurant to burn. Recently, Sotto Sotto and Sputini were engulfed, while a grease fire a few years ago reduced Sassafraz to a shell.
“People should think twice about opening a restaurant starting with ‘S,’” says Chiniforoush, half-jokingly.
Creme brûlée ($9) turns out to be as spreadable as honey. The dessert to get is the bread pudding ($10), the Brigitte Bardot of pain perdu in which slabs of crustless challah are baked in crème anglaise and weighted overnight for optimal density. Two triangles arrive smelling of sherry and drizzled with caramel of varying burnt-sugar intensity.
It’s a dish to fan the flames of anyone’s appetite.
"A terrific spot for dinner, welcoming at the door to great service through the dining experience. A courteous and helpful staff in menu and drink selection. Would go back there in a heartbeat." Dined on 2/4/2015
"Great food and service. Extensive menu of French and Italian favorites." 1/28/2015
Dined on "We had a quiet table near the back. Sea Bass was delicious." 1/24/2015
"We had a wonderful dinner at Sorrel. It was a first visit and will definitely return. The personalised service was outstanding." Dined on 1/23/2015
"From the moment we walked in until we left we were treated like royalty from the waiter barry and staff." Dined on 1/21/2015
"Simply delicious french food - the mussels are outstanding - our staple restaurant." Dined on 1/10/2015
"I loved the atmosphere of the restaurant and the service was excellent. I was here with friends and it was a great place to meet but it would also be equally great for a romantic dinner. The restaurant is fairly quiet so you don't have to shout to be heard, which is a nice change to many restaurants these days which are very noisy. The menu has great choices and is not too big, which I prefer. My friends had pasta which they seemed to enjoy. I had steak frites, which I didn't enjoy very much. The steak was tough and although I requested medium rare, it was very rare to the point of blue.......I couldn't finish it. (I a knowledge that I could have said something to the server but I'm not one to return my meal.). Overall however, we enjoyed the evening and I would give this restaurant a second try." Dined on 12/11/2014
"Oysters were excellent. Fois gras special was outstanding, and should be put on the regular menu. Both scallop dishes were excellent, ceviche and seared. Room is small, so the ambiance was boisterous, with high noise level, and a bit difficult for discussions, especially among seniors." Dined on 12/6/2014
"We visited Sorrel on a monthly outing with our group of eight. Food was excellent, especially the oyster appetizer, and daily special of lamb chops. Everyone loved their dishes, and our only complaint was the noise level, which made conversation very difficult when seated at a long table. Would be easier with a smaller group and a round table. Highly recommended for the food and excellent service." Dined on 12/5/2014
"Great food and wine. Service was overbearing with lots of interruptions at inappropriate times. Table locations vary - back by kitchen is uncompelling." Dined on 12/1/2014
"We like the food and the service. Maybe some sound absorbing drapes would reduce noise. Most of the clients we see at our several visits are older, and noise is NOT helpful" Dined on 11/29/2014
"Food is amazing here. It's a bit of an older crowd, but if you don't mind that, everything in the menu is a hit. The baby chicken is literally the best chicken I've ever had." Dined on 11/28/2014
"love this place, in a ritzy area of town , with a ritzy clientle......but down home friendly and unprentious staff....." Dined on 11/229/2014
"My partner & I found Sorrel to be an outstanding restaurant. We arrived at 5pm on a Saturday evening, before the place got busy, so the noise level was nil. The service was amazing; the waiters were attentive but not in your face. The menu was varied and everything we ordered was perfection. The atmosphere was very pleasant, as well. Towards the end of our meal, Sorrel began filling with patrons and the noise level increased significantly, so we were glad to have gotten there earlier, as it was much more intimate. It's obviously a popular, vibrant spot. I'd return in a heartbeat!" Dined on 11/22/2014
"Sorrel is a beautiful restaurant with real energy. It's definitely not a quiet spot, but the ambiance is lively, and fun. The service was attentive, and speedy. Our waiter took the time to explain the day's specials, and was knowledgable about the menu. The food is on point, with a definite Italian flair. While the lamb, and fish were great, the pasta really shines at Sorrel. The seafood linguini was the star of the night. Desserts are lovely too, though there were no real standouts. Great wine list with options for by-the-glass, half-bottles, and bottles. A lovely spot for a date, or people watching." Dined on 11/21/2014
"This was a good meal in a fine, if noisy, space. $1 oysters are hard to beat. But we had the sense that service was too fast, a bit rushed to get us out for the next party. Nothing pushy, but all blindingly fast." Dined on 11/21/2014
"This was our first time at Sorrel, which I picked based on all the positive reviews on Open Table and we will definitely be going back. Four of us each ordered different appetizers and main courses, and we all enjoyed every dish." Dined on 11/20/2014
"The food was beautifully prepared, the tapas style menu made it perfect for sharing a variety of menu items, the wine list was excellent and the service was superb." Dined on 11/18/2014
"Excellent food, friendly staff, vibrant atmosphere" Dined on 11/17/2014
"Ferro and Sarah have rebuilt an truly great spot for fine dining!" Dined on 11/11/2014
"The food was excellent and I was very happy with the service. I made my reservation on Friday for Saturday evening. I received a call from the restaurant on Saturday afternoon to let me know although Open Table had confirmed my reservation we were seated at the bar because the dining room was full. I was so glad that they contacted me in advance because had my guest and I found out when we arrived at the restaurant I would have been very disappointed. I let them know it was a special dinner and I would prefer a table. When we arrived they were able to accommodate us at a table and the evening was awesome." Dined on 11/01/2014
"This was our second visit to Sorrel and it did not disappoint! The quality of food and the presentation is simply outstanding. The wine list is vast and features moderate and high end options. The staff was very courteous and helpful. Put Sorrelat the top of your "must try" list of places in Toronto and I'm sure you will be back." Dined on 10/23/2014
"First time at Sorrel. Great decor, outstanding service, better than average menu, at very reasonable prices - excellent value! Noise level was the only negative, and we were in the perimeter by the window." Dined on 10/17/2014
"the former pastis is reborn as a new location for sorrel. popular already. Food is great, service is attentive but cool and somewhat distant." Dined on 10/17/2014
"had our second dinner here in the last two weeks....everything was wonderful....highly recommend this great addition to the Rosedale neighbourhood where the old standby Pastis used to be.....fresh, delicious French flavour, great frites, osso buco, grilled branzino and the staff and owner, Faro, are charming." Dined on 10/08/2014
"After closing down after a fire, Sorrel has now reopened in a new spot. Although alot of the previous patrons are aggrieved that they cannot walk to the new site, it is still reasonable close and the restaurant re-opened has been able to recapture all that it had before- great food, service, a friendly atmosphere, and an even better ambiance in a somewhat larger setting. It was worth the wait!" Dined on 10/06/2014
"The fresh new decor was well matched with a menu that offered something delicious for all tastes." Dined on 10/06/2014
"Went to Sorrel for the first time this past Saturday night. It is a solid, comfortable albeit price neighbourhood restaurant. Wine list provides variety at reasonable prices. The menu has all of the classics. Wait staff were attentive and friendly. Food was tasty but definitely needs to improve. For me the portions were a little lean, my osso buco was just ok, veal was tender and moist but the portion of mashed was very small and the brussel sprouts had too much garlic for my liking. My wife had the hanger steak and frites. Steak was seasoned and cooked to perfection however the frites were over cooked. As a neighbourhood restaurant we will give Sorrel one more try with hope that they read the reviews and continue to improve." Dined on 10/04/2014
"Sorrel was great. Solid menu, great wine list and knowledgable and accommodating staff. For our coveted dinners for two,we will return again and again" Dined on 10/03/2014
"We visited on a Thursday evening and the restaurant was very busy. I had reserved two seats at the bar and our spots were ready and waiting when we arrived. I was impressed because this is often a problem. I ordered the dish that was my fave when Pastis was in the house--veal scaloppini. It was good but had a light coating, instead of straight up which I prefer. Sides of fingerling potatoes and French beans were very good. My dinner companion enjoyed his salmon. The food was hot and fresh, promptly served, and properly cooked. Our server (the bartender) was smart, funny, and not obsequious--my favourite kind of wait staff. I'll return again for sure, to sample other dishes. I'm very happy Sorrel has opened up in the 'hood." Dined on 10/02/2014
"Service was excellent as was the food. Perfect quantity and quality." Dined on 9/29/2014
"Sorrel was excellent. Went on a Friday night. The ambiance is cosy with an elegant decor. The only minor negative is the slightly loud music, but this is our taste. The food was truly excellent. Had the romain salad with pine nuts and Gorgonzola, and grilled calamari appetizers followed by short rib of beef (probably the best short rib we have had). Wanted a side of pasta, different than the ones listed on the menu. They were willing to accommodate with a small extra charge. Had the Tagliatelle with truffles and parmesan shavings as a side portion that we shared. The wine list offered a good variety. The waiter was attentive and efficient. Excellent service. We will definitely return to on our next trip to Toronto." Dined on 9/26/2014
"Everything was great in terms of food and service. Noisy and tough to hear what my date was saying or the waiter for that matter." Dined on 9/26/2014
"Since reopening, Sorrel is better than ever! The food is fabulous, the room is bright and the decor is pure class! What really ties it together, is the owner and the friendly, yet professional, staff." Dined on 9/24/2014
"really fun place with good portion size along with great quality....everything is always cooked perfectly and katherine is probably one of the very very best professional servers in the city!!" Dined on 9/23/2014
"My girlfriend & I have been going to Sorrel for a long time. We cried when it burnt down 7 months ago. We are ecstatic that it has opened again. The food, service & atmosphere is the best!!!" Dined on 9/23/2014
"Sorrel has re-opened in a new location and a new upscale menu.the food is exquisitly plated. It is more upscale and pricey than the last location. I will miss those lunches.this is a gourmet spot." Dined on 9/18/2014
"Being in the same location of a former neighbourhood favourite Sorrel had "big plates" to fill. Pleased to say that they have succeeded at that and then some! Our meals were delicious, particularly the fried, brined chicken. Truly the most delectable chicken ever." Dined on 9/17/2014