TORONTO — Sara, the new 60-seat dining concept and sister restaurant to Rasa, has opened in the heart of Toronto’s Entertainment District. The latest collaboration from Adrian Niman, Brent McClenahan and Adam Minster (the team behind Rasa) offers a selection of inspired small plates. Using local ingredients, Sara’s menu showcases cuisine and cooking practices from around the globe.
The 2,400-sq.-ft. restaurant transforms an early 1900s Victorian home into a modern, pastel-toned two-floor dining sanctuary. The project was designed by emerging studio ODAMI — led by Spanish architect Aránzazu González Bernardo and Canadian designer Michael Fohring — and conceptualized by MiiM agency. Notable features include custom ODAMI-designed furnishings built by Patrick Murphy and Toronto Woodworks, custom chairs sourced by Suite 22, specially designed service aprons by Mary Young and ceramic plateware from Toronto-based artist High Noon. Spill-proof cubbies are built into the centre of each table, encouraging guests to stow their phones for a distraction-free dining experience.
“Sara was born in the dish pit of Rasa, the heart of the restaurant. The name was inspired by Tony, a dishwasher. It came through a conversation about how we could further our vision in a different setting, a juxtaposition to Rasa visually, while embracing the original ethos of tabula rasa,” says co-owner Adam Minster.
Inspiration for the eclectic menu comes from a number of trips the company has taken together. Created in collaboration with Niman, Davin Shearer (executive chef, Sara and Rasa), Mary Dinh (head chef, Sara) and Graham Gibb (sous chef, Sara), Sara’s menu isn’t restricted to a specific region. In borrowing from a range of international cuisines and culinary techniques, the chef team presents an elevated selection of global offerings — an ode to Toronto’s famed international foodscape.
A dedication to cooking from scratch and local-ingredient sourcing has led to Sara’s in-house fermentation and preservation program. The menu highlights Ontario’s best produce year-round, with original vegetarian creations balancing meat and seafood dishes. The menu is comprised of small plates, dim sum-esque dumplings and modernized robata.
“This menu is a collection of all our favourite complementary cuisines and flavour profiles offered in one space,” says Shearer. “I’m really proud of the harmony we were able to create in such a diverse menu.”
Highlights include a vegan chopped salad, which combines finely chopped vegetables, quinoa, poblano-cashew cheese and wasabi peas ($15); Yellowtail Sashimi with shiro dashi, yuzu gel, togarashi and shiso ($20); and shrimp tempura with ginger, umami sauce, nori and sudachi ($17).
Sara’s gin- and vodka-focused cocktail program — created by Jody Donnelly and bar manager Erik Coomber — offers six rare selections of each spirit and curated flavour profiles to pair. The list follows a zero-additive, low-sugar philosophy, offering each cocktail with a straining and muddling straw so guests can draw out the flavours they like most and modify their drink throughout the evening.