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The status tables at the front have wraparound tufted leather banquettes and a view of the marble bar where, most nights, skinny guys in striped sailor shirts and their pouting dates pose like extras in a Godard movie.
The tables on either side of us, I noted, ordered the safest-sounding pasta dish.
The auto parts heiress and Vitiello eventually broke up, and he went on to briefly date Tanya Kim, the CTV talking head, and then the CBS gossip show host Mary Kitchen. The strapping 33-year-old was recently named by where his cheekbones are more memorable than his cooking tips.
It’s tempting to dismiss him as more celebrity than chef, but he’s the real deal: he started cooking at age 15 and ran a catering business out of his parents’ Brantford home, trained at the Stratford Chefs School, then, not yet out of his teens, apprenticed under the revered Keith Froggett at Scaramouche.
It’s the sort of simple dessert I’d happily order every night of the week.
Yet another reason to search out a parking spot on Harbord.
We split a plate of oysters with a puckery apple mignonette and ordered rounds of manhattans, sipping down to the brandied cherries. The moment it debuted in 2008, the Harbord Room replaced Bay Street’s Bistro 990 as the place to be if you wanted to appear in Shinan Govani’s next column. The night we lingered on the patio, there was much cheek-kissing, jumping from table to table, whoops of recognition.
The hand-ground brisket burger, the restaurant’s specialty, was rosy in the middle and sticky with aged cheddar and smoky caramelized onion jam. The actor Scott Speedman sat in one corner, former morning show host Seamus O’Regan in another.
Maldon salt flecks, scattered over the dish like snowflakes, intensified the chocolate’s sweet punch.Vitiello oversees the menu at both restaurants, though he only works the line at the first location and appointed Curt Martin, the Harbord Room’s former chef de cuisine, to run THR & Co.The two spots share staff and have similar menus loaded with handmade pastas, foie gras and herby sauces.They’d been planning to open a second location somewhere, admired the bigger space and 65-seat patio, and figured that two Vitiello restaurants would complement rather than cannibalize each other.
They gave the second location a mouthful of a name: THR & Co.
But where the Harbord Room affects a bohemian gentility, THR & Co.