Antler Kitchen & BarAntler Kitchen and Bar prides itself on being all things intrinsically Canadiana.

The brainchild of Chef Micheal Hunter (formerly of Scarpetta and Reds Wine Tavern fame), Antler aims to redefine what is considered “Canadian” cuisine, specializing in more foraged ingredients and farmed game – “farmed” because serving wild game in restaurants has restrictions in Ontario.

Antler Kitchen & BarIf Antler were personified as a man, he would be tall, dark and ruggedly handsome. The exposed brick wall, wooden undertones, and subtly masculine decor have me harbouring a crush on him already.

Still fairly new to the Toronto dining scene, it’s a popular venue with local foodies, so reserving your table early is strongly recommended.

The food is good. Like really good. And the thought of putting some meat in my mouth that is not the usual chicken or beef, is both exciting and intimidating. We were a group of four diners who were game … for some game.

Bad pun intended.

Antler Kitchen & Bar
Charcoal Grilled Duck Heart Yakitori, Wild Mushroom Tarte Tatin and the Chicken Thigh Yakitori

Our starters hit the spot, setting a pretty high standard for the mains that were to follow. I may have been a little skeptical about the duck hearts, but from the first bite in, the smoky flavours (to me very reminiscent of Mediterranean spices) had me battling my dining partners for more.

For our mains, we tried a little of everything – from deer to trout to duck to freshly-made gnocchi – and I loved the simplicity of everything we ate. If this is your first foray into trying game meat, you will not be disappointed. They are cooked to perfection, remarkably tender and most importantly, don’t carry the usual ‘gamey’ flavour undertone which many find overwhelming and unappealing. This here was downright delicious.

Antler Kitchen & Bar
Spice Ash Crusted Rack of Deer

Antler Kitchen & Bar
Rainbow Trout with caramelized kohlrabi and swiss chard

Antler Kitchen & Bar
Chestnut Gnocchi with almond brittle and greens

Antler Kitchen & Bar
The Duck Duo daily special

In the spirit of inclusiveness, Antler doesn’t forget our vegetarian diners, who also get to experience Chef Hunter’s Antler-foraged creations. From the Chestnut Gnocchi to the Vegetarian Risotto, rumour has it that many of the ingredients are hand-picked in the countryside by the chef himself.

The ambience at Antler Kitchen & Bar was incredibly unpretentious, and our charming server, Ely – who looked like a handsome lumberjack in an apron – kept us very entertained throughout our dinner.

Like an ideal man, Antler is no fuss, no frills and no drama…making it quite possibly, one my new favourite restaurants in the city.

For the food review, visit fellow foodie Gastroworld.

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