Since 2002, David Ross has breathed new life into Stratus at Toronto’s Athletic Club. As the restaurant’s executive chef and manager, Ross is the frontrunner for both its menu and milieu. With a Peking duck tortilla topping the list of customer favourites—and house crab cakes that are available year-round —Stratus is a Toronto staple offering exceptional fare by a team of culinary masters.
Although a passionate and seasoned chef, Ross admits that he somewhat stumbled upon the career.
“I sort of fell into cooking in Banff and through cookbooks… I also had to cook for myself because I couldn’t eat what my brothers made!” says Ross.
Just over 20 years ago, he started in Alberta and ultimately returned to Toronto to study the culinary arts at George Brown College. With a resume of restaurant stints behind him including the distinguished Windsor Arms Hotel and the French eatery, Auberge du Pommier, Ross eventually ended up at Stratus.
From eggs Benedict and black tiger shrimp to dessert dishes such as a Georgian pecan tart, Ross singlehandedly designed the menu to integrate the freshest flavours while highlighting the city’s distinct scene. An impressive and diverse wine list also adds interest, with 9 whites, 16 reds and 4 champagnes currently available.
“Toronto is unique because it draws in flavours from around the world,” says Ross. “[Stratus] has everything from Italian to Japanese; it’s very eclectic.”
Open daily for breakfast and lunch—and during the evenings for private functions—Ross describes the environment as “busy and bright.” With crisp white linens and punches of orange in mandarin and fresh citrus shades, customers certainly relish in its intimate and warm atmosphere. The Private Dining Room is ideal for meetings and parties, and one of Ross’s favourite memories is serving the Toronto Raptors a few years ago.
“We [also] used to serve one star player every day and then he would wave at me and my wife at games,” says Ross.
The restaurant epitomizes dining with a view, located atop downtown’s TD Waterhouse Tower near Union Station, with a panorama looking out onto the city and Lake Ontario. Ross wanted Torontonians and tourists alike to float above the city and take in a perfect day of delicious dining; Stratus proves it a mission accomplished.