One of Torontoâ€™s newest attractions is actually one of its oldest: the buildings of the Distillery Historic District have stood since 1832, but it wasnâ€™t until 2003 that the complex was reinvented as a historic center. This 45-building site was once the home of the Gooderham & Worts Distillery, Canadaâ€™s largest distilling company in the 19th century. For much of the 20th century, the buildings sat in ruined splendor, put to use occasionally as a site for film shoots. More recently, the district was restored to its Victorian red-brick glory, and now it contains art galleries, shops, theaters, and restaurants.
Iâ€™ve written already about SOMA Chocolatemaker, a particularly delicious chocolate shop in the Distillery Historic District. Other notable spots include the Corkin Gallery, the Sandra Ainsley Gallery, the Deaf Culture Centre, Bergo Designs (cutting-edge housewares), Lileo (clothing for men, women, and children), and Corktown Designs (jewelry). And then there is Perigee.
When I think of places Iâ€™ve dined since being diagnosed with celiac disease, few have inspired such confidence as Perigee. This could be because the staff is incredibly well-versed in the gluten-free diet (and considerate of food allergies as well). I didnâ€™t need to explain that not only wheat, barley, and rye were off my particular menu, but so are kamut, semolina, bulgur, and couscous (I have, on several occasions, had well-meaning waiters tell me that couscous is â€œlike riceâ€; for some reason, itâ€™s commonly mistaken for a gluten-free food). Another part of Perigeeâ€™s appeal is the glass-walled kitchen, which sits in the middle of the dining room, allowing diners to watch the chefs at work.
This is an expensive place to dine, but whenever Iâ€™ve splurged itâ€™s been worth it. The cooking is classical French with a twist, since ingredients from South America and Asia spice up the plates, too. The restaurant offers several prix fixe menus: one for theater-goers (a great bet if youâ€™re seeing Native Earth Performing Arts or Soulpepper that evening), one for vegetarians, and an extravagant nine-course omakase tasting menu, in which you advise the chef of your dietary issues and food preferences, and put yourself in his capable hands. Of course, you can order Ã la carte as well, which means you can enjoy grilled yellowfin tuna paired with Japanese diver scallops in a mild green curry sauce, or venison with a leek-and-fennel sauce (but minus the phyllo-wrapped greens that usually accompany it).
Perigee [address] Distillery Historic District, 55 Mill Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada [tel] 416-364-1397 [web] www.perigeerestaurant.com