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Located in the heart of the financial district is Vertical, a restaurant popular with the business crowd. Working in the financial district, I had been meaning to try Vertical for years. What finally prompted me to drop by was Dining Date Night.

For those of you who have never heard of Dining Date Night, members of the program can make a reservation at a selection of fantastic restaurants in Toronto at a cost of $10 which gets you 30% off your total bill uncapped. The best part of it all – it’s free to sign up! Check them out here. Some of the restaurants include Table 17, Mideastro,, Amaya and Nota Bene to name a few.

The exterior

The restaurant, located on the second floor of First Canadian Place, has a bar & lounge area, a main dining room and a large patio overlooking King Street, which I imagine is fantastic in the summer. Given its location, Vertical is only open Mondays to Fridays (11:30am to midnight).

The interior

The menu is largely Italian and is separated into a few sections – “for the table” (aka sharing plates), crudo, starters, house-made pastas and mains.

With a menu of tempting starters such as arancini, burrata and seared scallops, we had a tough time narrowing it down and ended up deciding on the Lamb Meatballs – in tomato sauce with house made focaccia ($12). The meatballs were juicy and while flavour-wise, they weren’t anything to write home about, I found the sauce to be quite tasty.

Lamb Meatballs

The entrees on the menu consists of a large selection of housemade pasta, including a risotto dish which changes nightly, several fish dishes and a few meat dishes. I had a craving for pasta and decided to go with the Sfoja Lorda – halibut filling, lobster, tomato, wild fennel ($25). I had no idea how to pronounce this dish and I still don’t have a clue!

I’ve never had this type of pasta before but it was a great first time. It was the size and shape of a postage stamp and was well cooked with a chewy texture to it. Given how small the pieces of pasta were, I couldn’t really taste much of the halibut filling. I actually didn’t taste much fennel either but I’m not complaining since I can only tolerate a small dose of its licorice flavour. The sauce had a subtle lobster flavour to it and while it was a touch salty, I still enjoyed it.

The Sfoja Lorda

My friend ordered the Strozzapreti – rabbit ragu and swiss chard ($22). It’s a type of pasta which looks like a longer version of cavatelli. Similar to my dish, the pasta was cooked to a perfect al dente, giving it a nice bite. When I hear ragu, I think of a thick, hearty tomato sauce. But this rabbit ragu was too runny and didn’t stick very well to the pasta.

The Strozzapreti

As you all know, I’m a sucker for doughnuts. Even though we were both stuffed after the generous portions of pasta, I couldn’t resist getting a small order of the Paper Bag Doughnuts – honey, cinnamon sugar, icing sugar ($7). It was a decision I regretted. It felt like the doughnut base was just missing something. They were on the bland side, even with the different coatings. We weren’t fans of these doughnuts.

Paper Bag Doughnuts

I wasn’t a fan of the service either, which I found to be subpar. Whenever we needed our server, she was nowhere to be found. It left us feeling a little ignored.

Overall, I can’t say anything at Vertical really wowed me. Aside from the dessert, nothing was particularly bad but nothing was memorable either.

At a glance:
• Located in the financial district – 2nd floor of First Canadian Place
• Serving up Italian food
• A separate bar/lounge area and a large patio
• Open Mondays to Fridays (11:30am to midnight)

Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 2.5 stars
• Service: 2 stars
• Atmosphere: 3 stars

Vertical Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

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