URSA: High-Concept Food with a Mission

High-Concept Food with a Mission

When a restaurant boasts that its tartare contains something called "elk velvet," you know that dining there is going to be a wild ride. At Ursa, which opened last year in Queen West, that’s exactly the case.

Owners Jacob and Lucas Sharkey Pearce are what you might call a bit eccentric. Health fanatics who previously designed raw food menus for professional athletes, they opened this restaurant with an eye on not only using the healthiest ingredients available, but also foraging for some of the menu’s ingredients themselves.

A meal at Ursa is a bit of a challenging experience, but it's worth it if you’re the type of person who doesn’t mind combining deconstructed, styled elements on a plate into one perfect bite. Each dish is bright, colorful, and a bit puzzling, but it all adds to the fun. While it might appear a bit overblown, the techniques that the duo uses are meant to retain as much nutrition as possible (vegetables are vacuum-sealed instead of blanched, for example), and the flavors are all dialed up to 11, even though some dishes might be vegan.

And as for that elk velvet? It’s the fur from elk’s horns, and is full of nutrients.