East! Restaurant

East Restaurant 240 Queen Street West, Toronto ON
Approx $30 per person
Local Food? some local ingredients
Local Wine/Beer? very small selection
Lunch, Dinner
Mon to Sun: 11am to 11pm

At first glance, it looks like a lounge gone crazy trying to accommodate as much seating as possible. It’s dark, with highlights of orange and red about the place. I decided to check it out a few weeks later.

We waited approximately 20 minutes for a table. About average for the area. The decor is beautiful, very romantic, it’s undoubtedly a great date spot. It’s also cozy for group get-togethers and intimate birthday dinners.

Essentially it is an offshoot of Spring rolls, but more formalized to appear slightly more high-end and more authentic Oriental. The kitchen is semi-exposed in the back.The staff works fast, as our appetizers arrived in under 10 minutes, and our dinner in under 10 minutes after the appetizers.

The appetizers are definitely worth trying, particularly the fried calamari, and the dim sum. The items on the main menu are tempting, but the surface is often deceptive; there’s very little substance – in general, the food is not original and doesn’t stray too far from the kind at Spring Rolls. It’s not authentic, but a non-spicy westernized version of oriental cuisine. Like I said, a safe bet for large groups, unlike something adventurous (Korean Grill House or Banzai), and is likely to please selective eaters in the group. The appetizers however, are a closer representation of the “East” than any of the entrees.

There’s a bit of conflict here as I was expecting real Eastern food, a fusion of spicy, sensual flavours, including Thai, Indian and Malaysian, not the canned version. The ambience is great, albeit a bit loud and totally lacking in privacy. The mood is voyeuristic, and you’re definitely eating with a smart group of city slickers.

If you like semi oriental fusion, with less emphasis on bold flavour and spices, then this is the right place for you. I can amend that. If you like Spring Rolls, you will love East.
The service is extremely courteous and friendly. Not a problem there, and they do have a select choice of wine on the menu. Try the shiraz with the mango beef.

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Written by Mehreen

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