Located in the heart of Bloor/Yorkville, close to major hotels and world class shopping, Flow features continental cuisine, in a progressive North American style with service that is smart, professional and courteous. Internationally-recognized design firm ii by iv has used elements of glass, wood and Italian ceramic tile to produce an ambiance that is both warm and inviting. A two-level dining room with floor to ceiling tinted windows accommodates 150 people, private dining rooms accomodate an additional10-80, and a 60 seat wrap-around patio affords the perfect view of Yorkville’s passing parade.
Flow is the ultimate Yorkville haunt, oozing high style and good taste. This sophisticated lounge is a hot spot teeming with Toronto’s polished A-list crowd.
Yorkville, one of this city’s most famous areas, is being re-energized. Boutique hotels, luxurious condos, swish shops and exciting dining options are giving birth to the “New Yorkville”. The newest addition to the neighbourhood is Flow Restaurant & Lounge, taking over the prime piece of real estate at the corner of Yorkville Avenue and the Renaissance Court that was the longtime home of the original Mšvenpick.
The restaurant is striking. The exterior has a modern industrial look with grey flagstone, corrugated aluminum siding and a dramatic awning that mimics the colour scheme of greys, browns, blues and greens found inside. The wrap-around patio allows patrons to face either the bustling street or the more subdued courtyard.
Thanks to II X IV Design, the interior of the multi-level space feels truly unique with its mix of natural elements – stone, wood and water, and industrial elements – chrome, glass and metal. Guests can relax in the downstairs lounge with its stone walls, long marble bar and cozy banquettes. The main floor has large mosaic tile columns and gorgeous hanging fixtures that look like a cross between huge globes of spun sugar and butterfly cocoons. The upper level gives diners a great view into the buzzing open kitchen.
Flow has really set the bar high for itself, with totally separate dinner, lunch, lounge and brunch menus. And, as if that weren’t enough, the lovely hostess informed us that they would soon begin serving afternoon tea as well as their own house-made gourmet ice cream street-side as an homage to Msvenpick.
Co-owner and Executive Chef Richard Andino, who spent many years cooking at one of this city’s finest restaurants, North 44¡, has brought the same sensibility and progressive cuisine to his new kitchen at Flow. His menus are full of creative and artistic dishes that use the best seasonal ingredients available.
When we visited the restaurant, owners Tony Longo, Julian Gova and Chef Richard Andino, along with Manager Thomas Roddick, were kind enough to let us sample a few of the dishes off several of their menus.
From the lunch menu we had a light salad of baby arugula, Matsu apple and toasted almonds in a sherry vinaigrette ($9.95). Each ingredient was impeccably fresh and tasted as if the garden they were grown in was right out back.
Chef Andino prepared two selections from the dinner menu, Striped Black Sea Bass ($33.95) and braised beef short ribs ($28.95). The fillet of Striped Sea Bass was pan roasted and served with pearl onions, sweet chili mustard greens and a salad of oven-dried tomatoes and shaved fennel – a wonderful light entrŽe for the health conscious. The braised short ribs were a generous serving of three tender ribs on a bed of taro root puree with roasted Cipollini onions in a tamarind and tomato reduction – a great twist on a classic.
The lounge menu, available everyday from 4 PM on, has a selection of small dishes, finger foods, and appetizers. We got to try the popular “Spring Roll Evolution” ($8.95), which featured a fresh summer roll with crab, mango and scallion; a rice crepe filled with bean sprouts, onion sprouts and fried tofu; and a spring roll filled with mushrooms, water chestnuts and carrot. Three different dipping sauces – soy yuzu, ancho mayo and sweet chili – accompany the rolls.
Desserts share the same artistic bent as the rest of the menu, taking classics and giving them an original spin. One that caught our eye immediately was the Lemongrass Gelato Popsicle ($9.95). The lemongrass infused mascarpone creamsicle served with a ginger almond tuille is perfect for any warm summer day or evening.
One thing you quickly notice at Flow is that here the beverages are just as special as the food. Along with a large wine list of over 250 labels from both the Old and New World at a full range of price-points, each menu has an extensive list of suggested cocktails to pair with your food. How about a Raspberry Mojito with dinner, a Lemon Bloom with lunch, a Mimosa with brunch or a Caffe Havana with dessert. Cocktails are all reasonably priced at $10 to $14 and all seem irresistible.
Stunning dŽcor, innovative cuisine and an ambience that just makes you feel cool for being there, Flow is a welcome addition to this one-of-a-kind Toronto neighbourhood that is in the process of reinventing itself for the 21st century.
They are open seven days a week for lunch and dinner (brunch on Sunday). Reservations are recommended but not essential. As well, Flow is a great space for private parties, corporate functions and celebrations of any and all kinds, with several intimate and stylish private areas – three rooms downstairs that can hold anywhere from 2 to 18 people and the upper level which can accommodate 60.