Tanto Restaurant at 74 Ossington near Queen Street is a cozy, intimate and dimly lit room turning out some interesting and authentic Argentinian inspired food with thoughtful service to match.
Julian Iliopoulus, who previously worked at Cava for four years, is part of Peer to Peer Hospitality, the growing group who run Chabrol, Atlas and Cava.
The narrow 65 seat room, with tufted velvet banquets, distressed brick walls, a crystal chandelier over the bar, and an open kitchen with a chef’s table where you can see and feel the heat from the wood-burning oven.
The menu offers tapas style selections and larger mains where you can share if you choose, they don’t push it here as others do. Big flavours in small bites. Or you can leave it in the chef’s hands and let them create your dinner.
We had the house-baked sourdough with whipped tallow. Instead of the usual Iberico ham, they were offering some Joselit, supposedly the best ham on the planet. It was good, but being so jaded, as I am, I had better black hoof in Madrid. We also had a selection of cheeses along with dulce de batata. I recommend the smoked ricotta empanada with a Tanto hot sauce, as well as the savoury potato churros that were light as air and came with an addictive piquillo sauce. Our mains did not fare as well. I found the grilled squid in a burnt almond salsa, with crispy pancetta and preserved mushrooms to be a tad chewy. The daily fish was a monkfish in a red wine sauce on a bed of broccoli pureé, didn’t work for me either. A better bet would have been some meat cooked on the open fire. They had a wagyu that looked pretty special.
The food had Italian, Spanish and Argentinian flavours and influences. Almost every protein and vegetable spends time on the grill, reminiscent of Frances Mallmann.
The wines are from several European regions, plus they offer a half a dozen crafted cocktails. I loved my El Pato, a mix of gin, Campari and vermouth. This could become my go-to drink.
There are three desserts that are offered plus a special. We went with the milhojas, a banana pannacotta and dulce de leche with cream. It looked better than it tasted, due to too much gelatin in the mixture.
All in all, it was a nice change from the usual.