609 King St. W.
Smoked Duck Pizza, $22

What do you get when you gather ex-convicts together in a room with knives, mallets and a blow torch? Under chef Marc Thuet’s instruction: An inventive, delicious meal.

Recently opened Conviction is the pet project of chef Thuet and his partner Biana Zorich, primarily staffed by ex-cons, and the subject of a TV series show this fall. Finding its home at King and Portland streets, the dining destination will never have trouble attracting curious new diners — and it’s more than likely they’ll come back.

Conviction’s moderately priced menu offers slyly inventive Mediterranean fare that doesn’t unsettle traditionalists. Our sampling menu highlighted one bold, inspired dish and another comfort classic: Papardelle pasta (with Ragout of oxtail and king oyster mushrooms) and a crispy, deeply nourishing pizza that left nothing to the imagination. Most mains on the dinner menu favour seafood and tender meats — lamb, veal and suckling pig.

Service is professional but open to playfulness; the interior airy and tasteful. (And in case you were wondering, the blow torch is for searing a plump marshmallow that sits daintily atop a brownie for dessert.)

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