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Even if you don’t know chef Lucais Syme and the approachable northern Italian fare he served at La Quercia and La Pentola della Quercia, you’ll know from the name of this Crosstown restaurant (Latin for ÒartichokeÓ) that simplicity is a core value. The room is casual (wood floors, exposed brick, grandmotherly mismatched china), the service is friendly and prompt, and the menu matches the vibe. The menu Syme and his wife, fellow chef and co-owner Gillian Book, offer changes often to reflect what’s fresh and in season, so anything we might recommend likely won’t be available when you drop in. But their creations are always grounded in traditional European cooking, still emphasizing northern Italy but with a greater sense of adventure than before. In our 24/7 Diners, Drive-ins and Dives flavour-bomb era, the simplicity championed here might seem underwhelming, but when the kitchen makes the most of two or three familiar ingredients and presents with exemplary care and technique, it’s worth more than all the show-off cooking going on elsewhere.

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