The Gist: This family business has Harry (who had Taps and Tales) and his mom Fofi and father John Tsoukalas at the helm. Cousin Tom Andreopoulos too. All the parents have been in hospitality most of their lives - a donut shop and fish and chips places among them.
What might look like a gastropub at first glance, is actually a local spot for the East Danforth community. Before this, neighbours looking for a local hangout didn’t have much choice other than the Tim Horton’s down the block. The family were all born and raised in the area and want to give back. They’re building a patio and want to bring in a community BBQ, and have community events like live singers and oyster shucking. This way, the neighbours don’t have to drive downtown for a fun night out. And bring the kids. The whole family’s invited!
Grub: The menus changes all the time, including seasonally, so there’s always something new to enjoy. Bacon, chicken and sausages are smoked in-house and produce is picked up locally from farmers or the food terminal (they try not to use delivery - one of the few restaurants you’ll ever hear of not getting veg delivered). There are specials every night including poutines, burgers and a daily soup. You can have everything from a beer with pizza or burger to more high-end selections like a cocktail or glass of wine with surf and turf.
Game makes appearances throughout the menu such as the Caveman Game Board ($27) featuring wild boar smoked sausage, smoked venison and elk biftekia, and wild boar which makes its way into a spicy penne ($16) and pizza ($17).
Chef Haque (who worked with David Lee at Centro and opened many restaurants: Queen’s Pasta, Momo’s Bistro in Toronto and Gotham, a fine dining spot in NYC) spent a whole month just on recipes and how food is to be plated. A separate chef works on just pizzas. While the place might look like an upscale gastropub, this is fine dining fare. That’s not only due to execution but the ingredients – Triple AAA tenderloin, fresh wild gulf shrimp (never frozen) as well as no farmed fish. A variety of high end seafood includes orange roughy, sea scallops, black cod, Arctic char and organic salmon.
Libations: With a hearty selection of wines available that you won’t find at the LCBO, 25 beers on tap (without a Molson or Coors amongst them), and one of the longest bars you’ve ever seen outside of the Entertainment District (53 feet, built by hand by the Tsoukalas’), you might just never leave.
‘Hood: Danforth East
Deets: The restaurant can accommodate up to 80, but you'll want to take advantage of the patio once it arrives. In the meantime, you can sit in the front near the window or one of the roomy booths in the back with walls covered in striking floor-to-ceiling black-and-white photos of old buildings.
Fixtures & Fittings: The place took 18 months to build, but it was worth it. With a wood-burning pizza oven they built themselves and that long bar awaiting you, it’s comfortable and cozy without being stuffy. Heavily padded and upholstered booths, bar tables, and bar stools give you lots of seating options for drinking and dining.
Off the Menu: This is absolutely fine dining food in a comfortable, casual atmosphere.
Soup du Jour ($6) Today it’s Curry Chicken and Veg, which may sound heavy, but the light broth is bursting with fresh vegetables (carrots and bell peppers) and moist chicken, finished with sprigs of fresh dill.
Spicy Boar Penne ($16) The combo of smoked wild boar, double smoked bacon, and wild mushroom gives a real earthiness the dish, with a fresh and very light spicy tomato sauce adding kick.
Crab Cakes ($14) are lightly packed, so you get to experience that lovely texture and they aren’t weighed down. Baked and not fried and crusted with herbs also keeps them light and airy. An apple celery slaw adds vibrancy and zest and is a welcome change from the usual heavy cabbage variety. And those giant caper berries on the side will become your new favourite pickle.
Surf and Turf ($18) You feel like you’re in a high-end steakhouse with this dish. Roasted slices of beef tenderloin are topped with a juicy seared black tiger shrimp and finished with horseradish and caper berry mayo and a drizzle of balsamic.
Wild Boar Pizza ($17) is so hearty, you’ll wonder if you’ll ever be able to eat again. But what makes this pie so memorable is that all the flavours come through - wild boar meatballs, smoked sausage, double smoked bacon, tomato sauce, Fior di latte, mushrooms, caramelized shallots and garlic – in each and every bite.
How Cool is This?! Local 1794 shows black-and-white movies from the 20s and 30s. Dinner and a movie? Done (and so much better/cheaper/easier than going to that colossal cinema downtown).
At the Stove: Chef "Hawk" Dulal Haque
FOH: Tom Andreopoulos (cousin to Harry & John)
Head Honchos: Owners Harry (son) and John (father) Tsoukalas
Visiting Hours: Open daily at 3pm - 2am with brunch coming soon.
Map It: 1794 Danforth Ave. (between Coxwell and Woodbine)
Phone It In: (647) 559-2627