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Tundra Restaurant Review and Recipe

From Kapuskasing venison tenderloin to Manitoba wild rice cake and Arctic bison carpaccio, 37-year-old Executive Chef, John Cirillo, prepares it all. The Toronto native defines 'Canadian cuisine' as, "Using what's available from all over Canada, and starting the creative process with fresh produce."

Named Chef of the Year by the Escoffier Society of Toronto, Cirillo apprenticed at the Hilton Toronto Airport and Harbour Castle Hilton, honed his skills in Europe and graduated in Toronto with the highest diploma available to Canadian chefs (Certified Chef de Cuisine). His expertise in Classical European Cuisine influences his menu and underlines Toronto's multicultural flavor. For example, a lunch dish could be a marbled pasta roll filled with ricotta cheese, mushrooms, artichokes and spinach in a foie gras cream. And the picturesque Tundra dinner menu includes delights such as maple-glazed, smoked Chinook salmon with cucumber mango slaw and beetroot essence.


No Canadiana meal is complete without a taste of the Niagara Region's award-winning wines that now rival those from any other country. The world leader in ice wines, the region boasts more than three dozen wineries that put on educational sessions, wine tastings, cooking classes, tours, music festivals and so on.

Hillebrand Estates Wineries, one of the oldest and largest in historic Niagara-on-the-Lake (the heart of Niagara wine country) is Canada's leading producer of Vintner's Quality Alliance (VQA) wines. Hillebrand also pioneered the Canadian production of ice wine in 1983.

Hillebrand's Vineyard Café showcases its wines with excellent cuisine by Chef Tony De Luca, who keeps a full-time "forager" on staff. Starting at about 5 a.m., the forager drives his pickup truck around the countryside to bring back the best and the freshest local produce of the day. De Luca also smokes his own salmon.

My three favorite wines from our elaborate lunch there were:
Vineyard Select Sauvignon Blanc, 1999 - US$4 per 750 ml bottle; Glenlake Vineyard Merlot (unfiltered), 1997 - US$19 per 750 ml bottle; Special Select Late Harvest Vidal, 1997 - US$7 per 375 ml bottle. (Not on the shelves; special-order only.)

For information about the Niagara region, visit the Wine Council of Ontario at www.wineroute.com; for more about Hillebrand, call (800) 582-8412 or visit www.hillebrand.com.

For visitor information about Toronto, contact Tourism Toronto toll-free at (800) 363-1990, or www.torontotourism.com.

Roasted Venison Loin with Squash and Apple Bread Pudding in a Red Beet Sauce

(2 portions)

300 g venison loin 50 ml olive oil Season the loin with salt and pepper, then pan-sear both sides in a hot pan. Finish in a 325-350ºF oven until medium rare.

Squash and apple bread pudding: 15 g apples, diced 15 g butternut squash, diced and cooked ½ slice white bread, diced ½ tsp parsley, chopped 1 tsp cooked shallots, finely chopped 1 whole egg 100 ml cream (35%) Combine all ingredients except the egg and cream in a buttered ramekin. Place in a water bath and add the cream and egg after whisking them together and seasoning with salt and pepper. Place into a 275ºF oven and cook for approximately 20-25 minutes until set.

For serving: 100 ml venison jus 25 ml red beet purée Combine jus and purée. Center the pudding on a dinner plate, then top with two slices of venison. Sauce over the jus/purée mixture. Serve with sautéed, rosemary-scented green beans.

Hotel restaurant
(Toronto Hilton)
Food *****
Wine *****
Dining ****
Cost $$$$
Tundra Restaurant
145 Richmond Street West
Toronto, Ontario

Ph: (416) 860-6800
Visit our website

Ratings guidelines:


***** over US$50 per person
**** $30 to $50 per person
*** $18 to $30 per person
** $8 to $18
* less than $8 per person

Food, wine list and dining experience

***** exceptional
**** very good but either lacking in consistency or having room to reach perfection
*** decent fare but lacking in creative inspiration either in presentation, food quality or both
** mediocre and hopefully cheap
* either the price is right or we are not returning