163 Spadina Avenue
Toronto, ON M5V 2A5
When I heard that Alo was going to create a little French bistro downstairs from its mother restaurant, I was excited. Excited, because Alo had been such a hit in such a short time, that I thought they would be able to create something more accessible for the Alo lovers out there, including myself.
Upon walking in, the one thing you notice is that it is somewhat of a retro modern look. Almost like a hipster diner of sorts. The staff are well-kept and friendly, while the open kitchen allows for a view into the culinary world of Aloette. A small French bistro that serves up a number of small plates as well as larger ones (entrees). Though they are associated with their branded restaurant, Alo, the menu is entirely unique from the fancy one upstairs.
It's tough to decide on what to get here. The menu, though small, has so many delectable options that it's every indecisive person's worst nightmare. I opted to start with the beef tartare and the scallop tostada. My friend ordered the pork as her entree, while I definitely had to get the burger (been wanting it for so long because the pictures look so damn good). Even the complimentary bread was good.
The beef tartare was incredible. It wasn't just raw beef that was mixed with a raw egg yolk and some spices shaken on. Aloette does their minced beef tartare mixed in with a horseradish sauce and topped with capers, scallions, and crispy fried onions. The mixture was unique and salty. The iceberg lettuce that accompanies it was perfect. I know it sounds odd, but it was so thinly sliced and it was the ideal accompaniment for the salty tartare. It added a crunch to counter the melting of the tartare.
Despite how good the tartare was, the scallop tostada was probably my favorite little bite. When it comes to the table, the one thing you note is just how small the plate is. You would think that the portion would be bigger. However, it achieves the perfect little bite that makes you long for more. The scallop is fresh and the variety of flavors from the cilantro, onions, peppers, and sauces makes it all well worth it.
The Aloette burger might be the best burger in all of Toronto. I tried hard looking for a burger in the city that would do their patties medium or medium rare. Aloette does it. Those juicy burgers that you see in all the NYC Instagrams can be found at Aloette. It definitely leaned towards the rare side, but I loved it. It's got a great crunchy salty exterior to hold in those juices. The cheese was a revelation atop that patty and even the veggies with the aioli spread. Incredible.
We also had the Aloette fries, but I wasn't a fan. Very overly salty and the greasiness spills and collects at the bottom. Stick to regular fries if you need to.
My friend ordered the pork and to be honest, it wasn't my favorite. There were some fatty chunks that most pork lovers dream of, but weren't that great. The meaty parts were somewhat good and they throw in some chicharron (pork skin) to add some crunch to a pretty heavy dish, but wouldn't order again.
Aloette was a great dining experience. The service was stellar (though the bartender was a bit of an odd fellow). The prices are very reasonable for the quality of food that you're getting. If you haven't been to Alo yet, you should definitely make it a point to go. However, if you're not into higher end experiences and prices, then you should give Aloette a go. Even if you have Alo in your sights, Aloette should also be visited as well. Get the burger. You won't regret it.
Ambience: B+ | Service: A- | Price: B | Food: A-