Friday, July 13, 2018

Estia: Mediterranean Coastal Cuisine in Yorkville

Bountiful dishes inspired by the regions of Greece, southern Italy and Spain, Estia celebrates the Mediterranean philosophy of cooking where pasta, cheese, bread and cured meat are made in house from scratch and encourage family style sharing around the hearth. The latest restaurant in the culinary empire from Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji, Estia features fresh ingredients sourced from local farmers and markets prepared with skill and simplicity over charcoal or a wood-burning oven that lend smoky earthiness to each dish, complemented by touches of tangy citrus and spices. Executive chef Ben Heaton, who worked in the kitchens of other ICONINK properties Figo and La Société, has created a menu meant to tour the flavours of the Mediterranean. Together with chef de Cuisine Brent Maxwell, the kitchen’s focus is on traditional cooking techniques: the house-cured salami is hand cut; a mortar and pestle does a blender’s job; bread is baked in Estia's wood-fired oven; and they even making their own cheese and yogurt. Almost all of the products are brought in from small Ontario producers, except for the fish, which is flown in from Greece and New Zealand and cooked to perfection on Estia's charcoal grill. There’s also a solid selection of handcrafted cocktails, along with the obligatory martinis and beers. The wine program highlights unique wines from around the Mediterranean region, selected to pair well with the seafood selection in particular. Named after the Greek deity Hestia, goddess of the hearth, Estia is like a warm breeze off the Aegean Sea — a little gem in Yorkville's culinary scene.

The hip elegant interior of Estia designed by Toronto's Navigate Design
with purple leather booth-style seating

The lovely outdoor patio is perfect on hot summer evenings

Estia menu features the freshest fish, seafood and bountiful dishes inspired by Greece, 
southern Italy and Spain

Vodka Martini with olives

With Sangria with white wine, peach liqueur, fresh lemon juice, fresh watermelon juice and simple syrup garnished with raspberries, blackberries and orange

Chef Heaton uses Jersey cows’ milk to make this Grilled Halloumi with 
oven roasted grapes, toasted walnuts and warm truffle honey

All the flatbreads are made in-house

Fresh out of the wood-fired oven

Wood Oven Baked Flatbread with Za’atar, and served with smoked melanzana, 
  tirokafteri and Greek olive oil

House-Smoked Eggplant 

Tirokafteri, a spicy Greek feta cheese dip

Baby Gem Lettuce Salad with feta, oven-crisped pita, olives, fresh basil and roast garlic vinaigrette

Brotte Les Eglantiers Tavel 2014

Lovely and aromatic with flavours of wild tart berries and sun-swept happiness

The octopus is brined in a red wine-orange mixture for days before it’s lightly simmered, then grilled over charcoal and served with n’duja, preserved lemon and romesco

Wood Oven Chicken with wild oregano, charred lemon, feta and preserved tomato relish

Yukon Frites with wild oregano and feta aioli

Spinach with preserved lemon beurre blanc and pangritata

Our server expertly filleting the Branzino and Gurnard at table

A squeeze lemon for the final garnish 

Grilled Greek Branzino

Red Gurnard from New Zealand

The more casual outdoor sofa area for cocktails and light bites

Parsley Root Soup

Serves 4
Recipe courtesy of chef Ben Heaton

2 tbsp olive oil
3 1/2 lb parsley roots, peeled and diced
3 celery ribs, diced
1/2 small fennel, diced
1/2 small Spanish onion, diced
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cup dry white wine
3 cartons vegetable broth, about 10¾ cups
1 cup parsley, chopped
1 cup 35 per cent cream
Salt and pepper

Bacon relish:

3/4 lb double-smoked bacon, diced
1 shallot, finely diced
2 sprigs thyme, finely chopped
2 sage leaves, finely chopped
1/2 rosemary sprig, finely chopped
1/3 cup sherry vinegar
1/3 cup maple syrup

Snails and garnish:

3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
20 snails
1 demi-baguette
Handful of parsley leaves

To prepare soup, coat a large pot with olive oil and set over medium heat. When hot, add parsley root, celery, fennel, onion and garlic. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes until translucent. Deglaze pan by slowly adding wine and scraping up and stirring in any brown bits from the ­bottom. Stir in broth. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and let simmer about 30 minutes until parsley root is very tender. Remove from heat.

To prepare relish, cook bacon for about 10 minutes in a pan set over medium-low heat until slightly crisp. Remove and strain fat. Reserve. Place 1 tbsp bacon fat back into a pan and heat over low. Add shallot, thyme, sage and rosemary. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes until shallot is translucent. Add bacon. Increase heat to medium. Add sherry vinegar. Deglaze pan again. Cook until reduced by half. Stir in maple syrup. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until most of the liquid evaporates. Place in a bowl and let cool.

When the soup has cooled slightly, add parsley and cream. Using a blender or food processor, purée until smooth. Strain through a sieve into a large bowl or back into pot. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt butter in a pan over medium heat. Add garlic, then snails. Cook for 2 minutes until warm. Divide snails into 4 large serving bowls. Tear baguette and add to remaining butter in pan. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 3 minutes until toasted. Add a dollop of bacon relish to each bowl. Reheat soup if needed, then pour overtop. Garnish with bread and parsley leaves.

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