Ursa lives up to the hype — and there's been a lot of it. Brothers Lucas and Jacob Sharkey Pearce opened up shop at the end of January in the former Bar One space and haven't had a quiet night since.
The menu reflects a holistic and nourishing outlook on life, with much emphasis put on the nutritional quality of the ingredients on offer. It takes seven chefs, two of them doing a stage, and six people on the floor to pull off co-owner/chef Jacob Sharkey-Pierce's audaciously avaunt-garde carte.
It shows on each jaw-dropping plate. Forays like sculpted salads of upright candy-cane beet sheets over wilted beet greens dressed with house-made kefir yogurt vinaigrette. Wild venison tartars and fatty foie gras come cured in blueberry vinegar. Chef Pierce brines Niagara pork loin and belly in whey before glazing them with apple cider and plating them du Puy lentils and decorative kale.
Their signature roots salad, a sculptural triumph of colour and form, great swirls of shaved candy-cane beets and carrots and parsnip, a lid like a fascinator with fennel fronds, dried burdock and sunchoke, a glory of great-tasting veg in tangy kefir-and-walnut vinaigrette. There is Thuet bread and house-made raw pumpkin and flaxseed flatbread, with house-cultured butter. And raw yellowtail with delicate house-made miso, preserved lemon and kumquats.
The mains are complex, controlled and fun. Ridiculously tender pork loin has been brined in whey, its belly glazed in apple cider. There is red chard above and lentils below, house-made seedy mustard, and sunchokes three ways: Roasted and lightly candied, pureed creamy with apple cider, and dried.
If you are one of the many Torontonians counting down the days until patio season you'll be excited to hear that Ursa plans to open both front and backyard seating that will house up to forty patrons. With a trustworthy team at the helm, the restaurant promises to become a go-to spot in the neighborhood for locals looking to fill their bellies and for out of town folks looking for the Toronto dining experience.