Opened quietly in the spring of 2018, Core Restaurant bills itself as a seasonal, contemporary, Canadian bistro. Located at 896 Queen street east in the heart of Leslieville. Personally, I never heard anything about the place, and it does deserve more buzz. It reminds me of the “Little Engine” that could. This 40 seat cozy, restaurant, with zero attitude, friendly and enthusiastic service, offers a la carte or 3-course tasting menus at $45 (available Sunday to Thursday), and a 5 course on weekends at a reasonable $70. Just starting in November they will now be open 7 days a week for dinner only.
It’s a pleasant, casual, long and narrow room, with exposed brick walls, red fixtures, and a small window into the kitchen. It is here you can see co-owner and Chef Hyun Jung Kim creating his dishes with passion. His GM and knowledgeable sommelier, Mark Moffat, knows a thing or two about wine, working ten years with Fairmont hotels, then sommelier at Reds, then at Hotel Le Germain, and Crush Wine Bar, where he was the first in a Toronto to offer Dom Perignon and Chateau de Quem by the glass. He then went on to managing the beverage program at the Shangrila hotel. Core offers a “stump the chump” when bringing your own wine to the restaurant, if Mark can’t guess the variety and where it is grown, then you get free corkage!
The menu is divided into For The Table, Starters, and Mains. I would say this is not a great place for vegetarians or vegans, (although there was a beet agnolotti), they offer a nice variety of fish, seafood and meats. From oysters, to charcuterie. From fish crudo, to short ribs. For the mains you can select fish, pork, duck or pasta. We opted for the 5-course tasting where the chef introduced some off menu items.
The kitchen produces its own cultured butter and some outstanding sourdough bread.
Core means something central to its existence or character. Here they aim to prepare creative, authentic dishes with seasonal ingredients. This Canadian bistro with French influences has finally brought a neighbourhood fine dining experience to the east end of Toronto.