CHOTTO MATTE, the Nikkei inspired restaurant-bar that took Toronto by storm when it (finally) opened last year hit a very brief pause for the pandemic, pivoted to delivery and is now back with arguably Toronto’s best patio. The wraparound terrace offers panoramic views of our mighty CN Tower, flanked by Royal York (hello hockey!) and anchored by our country’s largest transit hub, Union Station.

I was invited down to scope out the scenery, and christen this new patio with some pals recently. While it was a thunderous downpour (including witnessing the CN Tower getting hit a few times!) you’re completely covered and cozy, thanks to the glass awning above. With rich flora and greenery abound, the space is downright tropical, and echoing the drink menu, the cocktails are crushable and add to the vacation-vibe.

While fusion is a total f-word that needs to be banished, the menu and design is in homage to Peruvian and Japanese cuisine, so the intentional crossover of key ingredients to each culture are on full display. Shishito Peppers ($8.50) are a prime example of that marriage, with nuances of miso, these delectable bar bites make for a perfect first base to your meal.

A carefully curated Sashimi Platter ($75.00 for four) is a feast for the senses, elevated here with Peruvian flourishes by way of accompanying dipping sauces- yuzu truffle soy, sesame soy, wasabi dressing and aji amarillo, each nestled carefully against a backdrop of supremely fresh fish finds; scallop, tuna, yellowtail, red snapper and shrimp were spot on and offered a delectable way to explore each sauce- layering it with different flavours or allowing the subtle sweetness from the fish be the highlight- these were all conversation starters and debates, which one goes best with what? There’s no wrong answers, only full bellies.

More adventurous options with traditional Peruvian flair make their appearance known on the Anticucheria Barbecue menu, which boasts a marinade of aji panca and aji amarillo chilli before getting cooked over hot coals. The blistering effect brings the heat and fired up flavours to the forefront, which works brilliantly on both the Gambas Tigre a la Parrilla ($25) and the Tentáculos de Pulpo  ($25). Both offer fired up and expertly plated dishes, with the shrimp left fully in tact for those that like the distinct crunchy bite. The octopus comes dressed to impress, plated with beautiful purple potato and springy green onions. Octopus is a tricky protein to perfect, and here, it’s cooked with precision and a total triumph for the kitchen.

Warm Beef Tataki ($19) is presented with smoked aji panca and passion fruit salsa, a lovely combination of sweet and heat that still allows the perfectly rare steak to shine.

After months of hunkering down and hiding, it’s great to break bread with friends, get caught up and get on with life. Safety initiatives are impressive, with staff masked up and table service is pared down, ordering off a digital menu and ordering everything all at once, limiting the trips your server makes to the table. And with the boys in blue (okay and other hockey teams too) setting up shop just down the street, we’re calling this patio the perfect spot to perch and people watch this summer!

Thank you CHOTTO MATTE for having us in!

All photos by Libby Roach.