King Street Just Got A Little Latino With Valdez

By on June 12, 2013

Acclaimed Chef Steve Gonzalez serves up a Nuevo Latino menu with a focus on street fare

Valdez, the highly anticipated restaurant from Steve Gonzalez (former Chef de Cuisine, Origin and fan favourite on ‘Top Chef Canada’), has officially opened its doors at 606 King St. West.  Bringing traditional Latin-American street fare with El Jefe Gonzalez’s inimitable flair, Valdez fills a void in the Toronto evolving restaurant scene.  Valdez will be open from 5:00pm – 10:30pm, Monday – Wednesday, and will offer a late-night menu Thursday – Saturday, with food service until midnight.  The comfortable bar/lounge and spacious rooftop patio will be open from 5:30pm – 2:00am each day. For more information, and up-to-the-minute action, go to  @thvaldezTO.

 

King Street just got itself some latino heat

King Street just got itself some latino heat

Valdez is the brainchild of Steve Gonzalez, achieving his lifelong dream of owning and operating his own restaurant.  A first generation Canadian with Colombian parents, Steve was introduced to Latin-American cuisine at an early age.  Growing up in Toronto while spending summers in Bogota and Periera, Gonzalez’s Latino heritage has always been a major creative influence in his work.  Gonzalez honed his skills in top restaurants around the world, including Spain, Hong Kong, Miami and of course Canada.  Throughout his career, Steve put his unique spin on Latino classics, incorporating influences from other regions and cultures around the globe. Valdez is an extension of Gonzalez’s ingenuity – bringing the classic Latino street vibe into each element.

The menu is a mirror image of Gonzalez’s Latino upbringing and personality. Food is a celebratory experience in Latino culture, and Valdez accomplishes this with a large selection of dishes that lend themselves for shared enjoyment.  The menu is divided into four parts:

Ceviches are available either in taste-sized portions, where guests can order one of each of the five offered as a flight, or a more generous portion to share.  Passion brings albacore tuna together with the sweetness of tropical fruit, wakame and yuzu then given a kick with accompanying jalapeno. Cocktel de Camarón is given a twist on the traditional shrimp formula by combining the juiciness of tomatoes paired with cilantro, chilli’s and a Latino staple, Andean corn nuts, creating a delicious vegetarian version of the classic.

Stuff is all about fun and flavour.  Traditional Latin-American snack foods such as Chulpes, Chips and Guac, Croquetas, Frijoles and Chorizo del Jefe are all given the nuevo touch combining ingredients one might not expect.  A perfect example of this are the outstanding Pastel, filled with cream cheese and guava paste then wrapped in a wonton, deep fried and served up street style in a paper bag.

More is for the entrees, which can all be ordered ordered to share, but for those who need their own dish won’t be disappointed.  The standout here is the Adobo pork, which can feed up to eight people.  This succulent dish requires 48-hour advance notice and at first bite, you’ll know why.  Back to the basics, sizzling fajitas are anything but ordinary Mexican.  Perfectly prepared trout from Georgetown is paired with a fresh take on quinoa, and whole steamed fish tastes as if it was caught upon order in Lake Erie.  Local ingredients are incorporated into much of the menu, wherever and whenever seasonally possible.

Dulce Y Algo rounds out the meal with the sweet stuff.  Desserts are prepared in-house, again using traditional elements such as dulce de leche paired with cow’s milk and the refreshing Helado de salpicon evoking images of kids eating their popsicles along the street.

“These dishes reflect what’s going on in South America right now, where traditional dishes are evolving as various immigrants contribute to the Latino melting pots,” says Steve Gonzalez. “It is my desire to introduce the people of Toronto to classic Latino dishes prepared with the freshest of ingredients provided at very reasonable costs.”

Cocktails are no different at Valdez where one of the largest selections of Pisco is found.  Private order tequila and mescal are a Latino staple and in no shortage.  Blended cocktails developed are prepared with seasonal juices and garnishes. Incorporating common Latin-American herbs, spices and liquors, the visionary flair is achieved with their spin on classics such as the Old Fashioned and Margarita. The chosen libations have been researched for months resulting in the perfect combinations to elevate the overall dining experience at Valdez.

The aesthetic was a key component to translate the vision of the restaurant.  In order to accomplish this, Ian E.T. Rydberg of SOLID Design and Build was brought on board to convey Gonzalez’s concept.  With Rydberg’s prior experience in restaurant décor, he was the perfect choice to create a space that helps transport you to the streets of Colombia, Peru, Venezuela Mexico and other Latino countries. The entrance room replete with traditional artifacts resembling import/export operations will eventually double as a shop, where guests can purchase cigars, coffee, house-made hot sauce and more. Walking through the bar/lounge area housing imported tile and marble bar with brass lights, the street vibe penetrates et every angle.  A custom aged wood piece that exemplifies the intricate cathedrals you’d find in these regions takes centre stage. Further down the restaurant, a row of ‘hot seats’ allows the diner an intimate view of the culinary chops involved with a bustling open kitchen in action. For those wishing to linger with their dinner party, the spacious dining room is filled with colourful Latino culture at every glance.

Come visit Valdez at 606 King St West and see for yourself what the Latino street vibe is all about.

Look At Those Smiles

 

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Twitter: @thevaldezTO  #latinostreet

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One Comment

  1. Farouk

    August 14, 2013 at 4:34 PM

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