BY DON DOULOFF
Conceived by interior designer Jacques Dinel, the space is upscale yet comfortable, with a strong and tasteful British influence. Throughout, a series of living-room groupings feature oversized chesterfields, leather wingback chairs and elegant leather sofas clustered around occasional tables and area rugs. Original print art from the U.K. adorns the walls.
Continuing the homey vibe is Deluxe Super Scrabble and other board games available to patrons. There’s also wireless Internet, a computer and a charging station. A more intimate and more formal back room features white tablecloths, crystal chandeliers and paintings by maverick artist Charles Pachter.
The menu mixes comfort food with upscale dishes. Augmenting that are over 60 draught and bottled beers, including local craft brews and imported labels. There’s also a self-pour draught table available to groups of four or more.
Slices of crisp apple bring sweetness and crunch to super-fresh watercress dressed with a tart vinaigrette studded with chunks of blue cheese.
Salmon shows up twice — as a generous slab grilled to moistness (the nightly special, it’s served with fingerling potatoes and warm plum chutney) and in the grilled seafood combo along with two (truly!) jumbo shrimp and tender calamari rings.
Finish off with intensely flavoured raspberry, mango or lemon sorbet, or Eton mess, a British-style trifle built, in this case, on strawberry rhubarb kirsch compote, Chantilly cream, meringue crumble and strawberry pearls.
The restaurant holds 150 for cocktail receptions, plus another 50 in warmer months when the patio is open. For seated meals, the space accommodates about 80 in winter and 115 in summer, with patio.
Seating 30, the back dining area can be booked for private dinners.
Don Douloff has been a restaurant critic for over 25 years and, during that time, has critiqued almost 1,000 eateries. In 1988, he studied the fundamentals of French cuisine at Ecole de Cuisine La Varenne, in Paris, France. During his time in France, he furthered his gastronomic education by visiting the country’s bistros, brasseries and Michelin-starred temples of haute cuisine. He relishes exploring the edible universe in his native Toronto and on his travels throughout Canada and abroad.