he Gist: The Maple Leaf Tavern on Gerrard got a serious makeover this year, both inside and outside. The new Canadian tavern serves dinner and brunch, with lunch and a new patio to come. The restaurant is divided into a bar area, dining room and Grill Room, where you can watch the action in the kitchen.
Grub: The menu offers snacks, raw bar items, starters, mains, sides and desserts. All dishes are made in house.
Executive Chef Jesse Vallins who became known for his handmade sausages at The Saint, continues the tradition here with a variety of links including Weisswurst, Smoked Duck, Beer & Bustard, Beef Salami, and Reuben (1 for $6, 3 for $17, 5 for $25).
A grand feature of the restaurant is the wood-burning grill from Ann Arbour, MI. Vallins says it’s “used for refining, not defining. We use it for a nice touch throughout the menu, such as the bacon, bread, shrimp for the Shrimp Cocktail and roasted vegetable salad.”
Libations: While beers and wines are readily available, summer concoctions such as the Hotel Nacional ($12 - Havana Club 3 anos, Briotett Apricot, fresh pineapple, maldon salt, pineapple shrub) and the Stealth Margarita ($13 - Tequila Avion, Briotett Fleur de Surau, cucumber, lime, jalapeno tincture) cocktails were made for this weather.
The bar also features drinks on tap including Manhattans ($11 - Wisers Special Blend Whisky, Cherry Heering, Martini & Rossi) and Rye & Dry Ginger Highball ($9 - Gooderham & Worts Whisky, Naughty Nick’s Ginger Beer, lime).
Fixtures & Fittings: .Built in 1910, the building was converted into the Hotel Maple Leaf in 1935. The current incarnation includes a new staircase off to the side to create for more room on the floor, and a horseshoe-shaped bar at the front serving as the centerpiece of the room.
There’s a bit of a sports theme found in the Grill Room at the back, as a kind of ode to a former owner who was a notorious bookie back in the 1920s.
The original stained glass windows from the front of the building have found a home in transoms above the Grill Room and that exposed brick along the left side of the restaurant is original. The wood-burning grill was built using the original brick obtained from the renovation.
A real blast from the past? A cigarette machine salvaged from the original tavern. The price for ciggy’s back then? A mere $1.50 per pack.
Off the Menu:
Caesar Salad ($15) boasts romaine lettuce piled high with a thick piece of double smoked then grilled bacon across the top. Anchovy dressing, Parmigiano, and herbed croutons round out the dish.
To share, a Whole Roast Chicken for Two ($48 with one side) arrives at the table in a roasting pan with a sprig of rosemary tucked just underneath. It is presented to guests and then taken back to the kitchen to be carved. It arrives back at the table with a silver gravy boat of herb and lemon chicken jus.
Whole Fish ($28) is done on the wood-burning grill, and served with beurre blanc, lemon and Maldon salt. The fish changes, depending on what’s available. Today it’s Sea Bream from Europe. All seafood is Ocean Wise Certified.
A side of charred Honey and Cumin Glazed Carrots ($9) is set upon a thick base of parsley yogurt.
For dessert, a stunning modernist Pineapple Carpaccio ($9) with compressed pineapple base ,coconut gelato, ginger crumble, coconut bar, lime curd, and cilantro.
At the Stove: Executive Chef Jesse Vallins, co-Chef de Cuisine Binh An Nguyen and co-Chef de Cuisine Jonny O’Callahan
FOH: GM Robin Kemp
Head Honcho: Todd Morgan
Deets: 115 seats inside. Bar seating is on one side, with a dining room on the other. There is also seating in the Grill Room, with a view into the open kitchen and 7 seats at the Kitchen Counter, located in the Grill Room.
Visiting Hours: Open daily 5pm – late (closed Mondays during the opening weeks).
Map It: 955 Gerrard St. East (near Pape)
Phone It In: (416) 465-0955
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