Going out for a good meal is one thing, but when delicious food and an amazing vibe come together, magical things can happen. Whether you’re heading out for a date night, dinner with friends, or a big family meal, taking the time toscope out great restaurants will ensure you have an incredible experience. In this interview, we take a look at Nina’s favourite restaurants and why she thinks a good food scene is important for every neighbourhood.
1/ What is your favourite type(s) of food to eat?
I love all food, especially food with colour and texture! I love food that’s surprisingly outside the box with unexpected flavours. Mixing ingredients to come up with something totally new is one of my favourite things to do in the kitchen, and it’s inspired by some of my favourite restaurants! As you’ll see down below, I’m particularly drawn to Italian, French and Asian flavours when it comes to food!
2/ What are your favourite restaurants in Brampton, Etobicoke and Toronto?
My go-to spots are Fanzorellis and Antica Osteria in Brampton, ViBo in Etobicoke and Lee Restaurant and Auberge du Pommier in Toronto.
3/ Can you tell us why you love each one and what makes these restaurants special to you?
Fanzorellis and Antica both have great food, but I’m more attracted to their vibe! The old, rustic Italian influence shines through in the decor of both restaurants, and there is always a great energy and buzz from their busy Friday and Saturday night crowds. Fanzorellis has one of my favourite desserts- panna cotta, which has become overshadowed by “crème brûlée”. Panna cotta, with its similar but lighter texture, will always be my favourite. They don’t always make this dessert, but when they do, I order it with my meal to make sure they don’t run out!
ViBo is contemporary Italian with excellent food and live music. Although it has a more modern vibe, the food is authentically delicious and incredibly creative! Their mushroom ravioli dish is to die for- it’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted. I also love their live open piano bar!
As for Lee Restaurant, if I could ever say there was a food god, Susur Lee would be it. A pioneer of fusion food, at Lee, he merges two extreme cultures together- Asian and French! Every bite you take from their signature dish dazzles your palate, and you’ll be racking your brain trying to figure out which of the 18 ingredients in the dish you can identify. The atmosphere is also wonderful- it’s always loud and full of energy!
Auberge du Pommier is a dream restaurant- giving you that oh-so-wonderful South of France vibe. Although it’s quite pricey, it’s worth every penny to enjoy the beautiful setting, the old stone walls and the cottage like feel. They also offer two exclusive private dining rooms(The Oscar Room and the Sophie Room) ideal for corporate and social events like weddings. Inspired by two 1860’s wood cutters’ cottages that used to stand in its place, and mixed in with classic French elements, this would be the perfectspot for a romantic proposal, engagement party or family function!
4/ Which of these restaurants would you recommend for different occasions?
Auberge du Pommier is an excellent spot for a date night- or even a proposal as I mention above. With the two private dining rooms, it’s also an ideal setting for a smaller wedding, rehearsal dinner or other special event. Head to Lee Restaurant for a night out with friends, and ViBO is perfect for a family dinner!
5/ Do any of these restaurants influence what you cook at home? If so, how?
All of the restaurants influence my home cooking, but one in particular influences me the most and that’s Lee Restaurant. I like to mix ingredients and end up creating new dishes simply by using what’s in my fridge. My mostly vegetarian diet takes plenty of inspiration from Lee’s kitchen.
6/ Is it important to you to have good restaurants in your neighbourhood? If so, why?
Good restaurants are very important to any neighbourhood for a few reasons. They solidify friendships, allowing people to get together and eat their favourite dishes; they contribute to a healthy social life; and they help people stay close, allowing friends and family to have regular get togethers over good food.