[First published on Vacay.ca]
Adrian Niman stands in the middle of his swanky new restaurant, thick with sexy red drapes and sexier women in tight black dresses, and talks about his dream of the country. Bloke & 4thfits right in with Toronto’s vibrant nightclub scene in the Entertainment District; its chef, though, is more about wine pairings than bottle service. Despite the fact that he’s just 27 and, on the surface, a superb fit for this glam supper club, Niman is all about the cuisine, not the scene.
“I’d love to have a little place in the country, with my girlfriend and focus on all local ingredients,” Niman says during the opening of Bloke & 4th earlier this month. The club had a soft launch in December and has packed in the late-night crowd, doing thousands and thousands of dollars in booze sales alone on weekends, Niman says.
His passion, however, is food and to his credit he doesn’t waver from it, even though he could go off-course in a posh spot like Bloke & 4th. Places like Ultra and barchef on Queen Street draw in the city’s high rollers and their arm candy who come to mix and mingle; indulgences other than food on their mind. With Niman’s cuisine, Bloke & 4th distinguishes itself from that pack.
“We’re going to try different things in here,” the chef says as he calls out for pick-up orders in the kitchen. “Some of it’s going to work, some of it isn’t, but we’re going to be creative.”
Its current choices include a number of good dishes and one killer one: a Bangkok Cole Slaw ($26) that includes yellow fin tuna, crispy calamari, and a mix of vegetables and sauces that combine for a sensational blend of flavours you can’t find anywhere else in the city. That dish was inspired by Niman’s time in Thailand, and other items are influenced from his days working in Spain and his early career at North 44, Mark McEwan’s esteemed restaurant.