Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 45 Colborne Street
Type of Meal: Dinner
Colborne Lane, during its pre-Origin days, was my favourite restaurant in Toronto. I was slightly disappointed to hear about its closure, but it had to be done given Chef Aprile’s attention was divided and Colborne’s innovated streak slowly waned. So, when I heard news of Woods opening, I had to go pay a visit – even if it was just a quick after work dinner.
The interior has been redone to add lighter and brighter touches. Woods, named after Chef Bruce Woods, aptly describes the restaurant’s décor. The entire dining room features it! From the wooden beams & flooring leftover from Colborne Lane, the large chandelier at the entrance and even the fabric on the bar stool & bench seats. The hints of white does open the space up as somehow Woods looks larger than the former Colborne.
Even a weeknight dinner requires a cocktail and Woods menu has a limited but good offering of them. The sparkling ginger ($10) sounded interesting with a mix of whisky, ginger and prosecco. This is a great cocktail for someone who doesn’t like them too sweet or too strong, the whisky is toned down by the dry prosecco and without simple syrup. Fresh cubes of ginger sit at the bottom of the flute so that every bubbly sip is filled with an aromatic and flavourful hit.
Following the cocktail, a staff member came around with a basket of bread offering sourdough or whole wheat. I opted for the dense but soft sourdough. Sadly, there was nothing to rave about; for a restaurant that’s “fine” dining I would have hoped the bread be at least warm.
As a warning, Wood’s portion sizes are quite small so you will need an appetizer. Since it was a quick dinner, we went with just mains and after seeing my choice of roasted Muscovy duck breast ($28), I knew I’d be hungry later in the evening.
Regardless, the duck was cooked to a perfect rare despite an amazingly rendered and crispy skin. Sliced thinly, each piece was tender and flavourful; I just wish there was more of it! The accompanying ingredients - dried cherries, what seemed like dehydrated shredded meat and oil filled deep fried croutons - could be improved. All the ingredients were dry and so strong that for me over powered the delicious duck.
It’s refreshing to see a Chef actually be at their restaurant, during our visit Chef Woods calls out a friendly goodbye from behind the bar during our departure. Hopefully, this trend will keep up as its predecessor would prove that once the Chef’s attention is gone, all too often the restaurant starts going downhill.
Although I wasn’t blown away by this experience with Woods, I wouldn’t mind returning and trying some of their other dishes – the scallop appetizer and rib eye entrée ordered at neighbouring tables looked delicious. It’s doubtful it’ll ever become my favourite restaurant in Toronto (that title has yet to be filled), but Woods shows promise to become a “treat yourself to a nice dinner” place – just as long as you’re not too hungry.
Overall mark - 7 out of 10
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Gastro World's Grading System
- Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
- 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
- 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
- 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
- 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
- 10 - absolute perfection!