Guess who turned 25? Yes, you’d be right if you guessed it was me. To celebrate turning a quarter of a century old, I ventured to Mineral, an eclectic Rosedale restaurant. I came across the eatery while drafting a post about Black Camel, and while I had hoped to dine there with a certain someone, I was instead blessed with my girl gang, spending my milestone mingling at Mineral.
The Executive Chef behind the restaurant is Filipino-raised Daniel Cancino, known for his time working at the trendy Filipino-inspired Lamesa. Following in those same cultural footsteps, Mineral delivers on contemporary Asian cuisine.
First impression, the space reminded me a bit of Aloette in how it’s laid out—one large rectangular room with a handful of sleek booths and bar top seating looking into the open kitchen. What is unique is the golden flower accents and the overall blue tone of the space, with velvety cobalt bar stools providing an extra pop of colour.
While they do have an impressive range of low-intervention wines, we kicked off the night with cocktails. I don’t know why but I’ve really struggled with finding a good Negroni since being back home in Toronto, yet all it really involves is mixing equal parts gin, vermouth and campari. It’s either been served as a shot or watered down and never seems to have that classic elegance and punch that I so desperately love about a classic Italian Negroni—that is until I had one at Mineral.
Since the offerings are meant to be shared and enjoyed as the kitchen prepares them, we ordered a whole bunch of goodies like:
It was a fun little surprise when a tray crowded with teeny, tiny shot glasses arrived at our table. Fragrantly earthy, a warm and comforting mushroom bisque whet the appetite and prepped us for the feast ahead…secretly, I sort of wish that was on the menu as a full-size dish too.
Similar to a brioche bun, the ensaymada is a pastry that has roots in Latin America and the Philippines. Flavoured with a green tea-infused honey, it was slightly sweet but also quite savoury thanks to a topping of melted aged white cheddar. As if they knew Little Miss Honey & Truffles was dining, the bun was served with a side of luxurious truffle butter as well.
Pineapple + Kombu
Listed under their cold bar menu, this dish is like a fruititarian’s crudo. Thinly sliced pineapple is dressed with chili oil and topped with crispy fried kombu and dotted with puffed rice. I loved how fresh, yet full of dynamic flavours this dish was.
Butterflied Jumbo Crab Legs
It’s been a hot minute since I last had crab, so I was more than happy to chow down on a leg, especially one that was dipped in garlic miso butter and mango chili sauce. Decorated with mango ribbons, I quite enjoyed the crab, but the miso butter was a real winner for me, then again, so was the tiny fork they brought out to help us dig into the legs—I know, I’m an oddball.
Although I loved the juicy, seared scallops and jumbo shrimp, I wasn’t terribly crazy about this noodle dish. The inky coloured noodles were beautiful but the shellfish broth was a bit too fishy for my liking. However, a few of my friends did enjoy it.
Grilled Pork Neck
Marinated in five-spice, garlic, ginger and a bottle of 7UP, the pork is slow-cooked and finished on the grill for a nice, smoky char. Folded into lettuce with a smear of calamansi and sambal mayo, I loaded my pork wraps with a few brown buttered pineapples, pickled papaya and chopped cashews. The result was stunningly rich, stunningly fresh, stunningly everything that I could’ve hoped for in a barbecued dish.
Ube Leche Flan
To finish our dinner, a surprise birthday flan arrived at our table (along with a round of lemon juice and vodka shots). This purple flan was lusciously creamy and had delicate vanilla flavours. Topped with fresh macerated fruits, dollops of tart rhubarb jelly and crispy rice, this dessert was super rich, but ultra comforting!
Overall, the gals and I enjoyed dinner and loved both the hospitality and food. The bill was reasonable considering all the tasty fare we had the pleasure of enjoying. You don’t see a lot of Filipino restaurants, so I loved that Mineral offered something a bit different. While it felt a lot like comfort food, it was also quite contemporary and totally approachable for anyone that might be new to the cuisine–myself included. Although the location is a bit removed from the bustle of Queen or King West, Rosedale is a classy pocket of Toronto that fits the overall vibe of Mineral. Definitely recommend this place as a foray into Filipino food.