Refreshing, charming, distinctive, creative, delicious, are some of the many words to describe the opening of the new 33 seat restaurant, Alma Restaurant, at 1194 Bloor Street West, in the Bloordale area. Just opened in July 2018, while small in stature, Chef Anna Chen is producing a larger than life winning formula. I can only report on brunch for now, but I was so impressed, I can’t wait to return for dinner.
A modern, simple, clean decor with wood tables and chairs. It is amazing how nice you can make a place on a budget look. EVERYTHING is made from scratch here. From the amazing breads to homemade noodles, and the chef’s mothers recipe for hot sauce. The chef’s background is interesting, Chinese descent, lived in India and has a background cooking French and Italian cuisine. The dinner menu seems to showcase Italian food with Asian influences.
Brunch has a small concise menu with five selections. Her pork wontons and noodles in a soy sauce and black pepper garnish are delightful. We took it up a notch with her mother’s recipe for hot sauce, made with chili, vinegar and raw garlic that is puréed. It should come with a warning, handle at your own care. The poached eggs and rice bowl, contained peas, avocado and spinach, and is great. A standout is the homemade brioche sandwich with Oaxaca cheese, egg and avocado, with some salsa verde, and a side salad with an interesting sweet dressing. The chef was kind enough to let us order her “knock it out of the park” flatbread, with a side of homemade stracciatella. We were moaning in delight. It was a cross between naan bread and the best English muffin EVER! I was told if you order the sunny side up eggs, you will get one of these beauties. The menu also boasts a buckwheat pancake with whipped ricotta, that I am sure is also out of this world. The desserts were quite artistic, unique and tasty. A homemade yoghurt ice cream with frozen Concord grapes, sliced to look like scales, and a berry ice cream with fresh fruit and a matcha looking granita.
There is a small bar with limited choices for cocktails, beer and organic, biodynamic wines. At brunch they offered a Caesar and a mimosa. The dinner menu looks enticing, with a lot of suggested sharing plates.
The chef lives nearby, and together with her husband William, they have created a warm, welcoming, neighbourhood spot. They also got Chef Moira, formerly of Actinolite and Splendido as their sous chef.
I found the experience unpretentious, approachable, and delicious with an eclectic menu.
Open Wednesday to Sunday for dinner, and Sunday for brunch. They will have a small patio out front eventually.