Some partnerships are just successful and made in heaven, and one that has worked well over the years is a partnership between restauranteur Hanif Harji and Chef Stuart Cameron, of Byblos, and Patria. Their latest endeavour, is helmed by the Iconik group, and a labour of love, that has passionately driven them to create a true feast for the senses at their new restaurant, Mira.
Truly hidden, it’s in an unmarked location off of Wellington Street, down an alley, and then down a narrower alley – they truly make you work for your supper. The address is 420A Wellington Street. It will be easier to spot once their outside patio is complete. But for now, this newcomer is found by walking down the alley with all the lanterns.
There is no mistaking this is a restaurant once you open the unmarked door. You are warmly greeted as you see the open kitchen with a long communal table. Down a few steps the attractive restaurant that looks more like a cool lounge, with dim lighting smoky painted mirrors, a long bar and high top tables throughout. For now, this 3,200 square foot space seats 75, but the patio will add another 30 seats. The floors are finished in a wood herringbone pattern, and the entrance is marked with a neon Alpaca.
Why an Alpaca? Because this is an animal native to Peru.
The name Mira comes from the Miraflores neighbourhood in Lima, and the focus here is on bold Peruvian flavours.
As per the style of all their other restaurants, they suggest ordering several shareable plates. Hey if the formula ain’t broke, why fix it? So the menu is relatively small, where the drinks menu is pages and pages. You will have a fun time perusing the drink menu as there are so many selections. We went for a Pisco sour, a drink you will find all over Peru. They do 5 versions here, all for $15, as well as their house cocktail specials, which are all $15. The classic pisco was decent, but I’ve had better. There is also a nice selection of wines by the glass, sakes (Peru has a large Japanese population) and wines from Europe, South America and North America.
The menu offers a creative and contemporary take on the dishes. The menu is divided into appetizers, ceviches and tiraditos, meats and seafood, with three sides.
The chef visited Peru on several occasions and he has made a good attempt to offer authentic dishes, with ingredients he has sourced there and brought over. The presentations are colourful and a feast for the senses.
A standout dish is the tostada Morado – a purple corn, with spicy tuna, cilantro cream and avocado. Unfortunately, they were out of the concha, Bay scallops with atomic butter and lime, but I hear they are great. We tried the ceviche trio, and found it a little milder than you would normally find in a Peruvian restaurant. They must realize that Canadians have some pretty sophisticated taste buds. The suckling pig with quinoa fried rice is a tasty and beautiful presentation. The short rib dish is nice as well. There was also good feedback about the squid ink rice topped with small scallops and snap peas. The yucca fries were a little anemic but tasty. I would have fried them a little longer. The asparagus with shaved Brazil nuts and parmesan is a nice light side dish.
There were 5 unique and creative dessert choices. We had fun with the El Huevo Malo, a large chocolate egg that is broken tableside to reveal coffee ice cream, chocolate brownie, honeycomb, yuzu marmalade and raspberry. It really is large enough to share for four, and was a relative bargain at $14.
I found the service exemplary and was quite impressed. The old Michelin star trick, of dropping a napkin, was passed with flying colours. Someone was there immediately to replace it.
Toronto is getting some new, cool places to dine. You should add Mira to your list, for a fun, crowd-pleasing, and appealing evening.