Address: 100 King St. W.
Breakfast: 7 a.m. - 9:30 p.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Dinner: 5 p.m. - 11 p.m.
Capacity Dining room: 75
Dinner for 2 w/tax & tip: $100
The dish that sums up Tawfik Shehata’s kitchen at Vertical, a multi-room establishment on the mezzanine level of First Canadian Place, isn’t the thick, beautifully glazed stuffed pork chop I had for lunch one day, or the grouper with cardoons on the dinner menu, but a simple appetizer that I’ve had several times. It’s a single large scallop on the appetizer menu, served on a rather traditional bed of puy lentils. Sandwiched between the seared scallop and the lentils is a thick, meaty, only faintly smoky tile of bacon, which pulls the whole dish together. I’ve had it with a very nice red wine, and as part of a tequila tasting, and it was memorable both times, thanks to a beautiful balance of flavour and texture.“That dish is nothing without the bacon,” Shehata insists. “The bacon is what designed the dish.”
He says scallops and some sort of pork has always sold well at Vertical, but he wanted to try something different, and tried pairing the shellfish with different types of Italian cured meats. “I couldn’t find anything I liked, so I thought — you know what? I’ll just do it myself.”
The Egyptian-born chef began his career in a very rarified place — apprenticing in Keith Froggatt’s kitchen at Scaramouche.
He worked his way through the kitchens at Auberge du Pommier, Rosewater Supper Club, Boba and Truffles, took posts in Bermuda and Jamaica, and finally got his own kitchen at the well-reviewed but now defunct Eau. Despite all the travelling, Shehata has clung to the Mediterranean style of cooking he loves best. “It happens to be all the flavours I love and that I can never tire of — tomatoes and garlic, basil, olives, anchovies. I like the idea of not making it too high end — it’s comfort food.”