In our ongoing series The Reveal, we go behind closed doors and introduce you to the people and food of the city’s newest restaurants and undiscovered places.
This week, we enter Braised.
The Gist: Sam Scanga's Lolita's Lust was one of the few sexy places to be on the east side. In fact, it still is. But the Danforth has a very differeny vibe than Leslieville.
Instead of opening a bar or seafood restaurant (as people have been want to do in Leslieville lately), Sam wisely decided on Braised, a meat-centric, slow-cooked mecca. Tender meats -and the best pork cheeks in the city - are sure to be the hit of the neighbourhood this fall and winter.
And it’s one of the few spots in the area that’s open during the week for lunch, making it a much more fun option for a business meeting than over on yawn, Bay Street.
Grub: The focused menu will change slightly with the seasons (new fall menu is launching soon!), but the main goal here is to serve great comfort food that’s been slow-cooked and made with real, locally sourced ingredients. Open for lunch, dinner and brunch, the options are endless. And delectable. Even the starters are enticing - Pork Shoulder Terrine & Pickles ($11) and Southern Fried Tofu ($10), to name just a few.
If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, you’re in luck – there is a lot to choose from. But ooh, which one? The Braise BLT ($18) with crispy pork belly and braised ketchup, or the Short Rib Beef Dip ($18) accompanied by cheddar cheese and jus? Mains range from meaty selections to the Grilled Rainbow Trout ($24) with ratatouille and arugula and Ontario Brick Chicken Breast ($22) with lemon, rosemary and braised fennel.
A nice touch? Salads and pastas come in small and large sizes, allowing you to customize your meal and cater to your whims and/or full-blown cravings.
For brunch, select from items ranging from Eggs Benny with braised short rib ($16), Frittata ($11) with spinach, tomato and onion, and Whole-Wheat Pancakes ($10) with berry puree, whipped cream and fresh berries.
Libations: Lolita’s Lust has long been a standout for their martinis, so it’s nice to see that they’ve made it over to Queen. And in case you’re stuck in the 90s, don’t worry – these aren’t. A variety of modern ‘tinis await you including the French ($9.95) vodka, chambord, pineapple lime. Should you want something bolder, how about the white chocolate ($10.95) vanilla vodka, Frangelico, Crème de cacao & Baileys?
And of course, let us not forget the wine. After all, when you hand builds a stunning glass cellar to house them in where the bottles take on a life of their own and seem to be free floating, you know what’s inside in worth imbibing.
Deets: With just 45 seats in the dining room and 10 at the bar, you’d be surprised at how many options there are. The front offers natural light and if it’s warm enough, fresh air, thanks to the garage door front. There are big booths near the back and a sweet little back corner of tables that offers a little more privacy.
Though the room is approximately just 1200 sq. ft., the tables are not tightly placed, so the flow of the room is airy and open. You don’t get to experience that too often in Toronto. Ahhh…
Fixtures & Fittings: Designed by Barret Lyzell from Urban Legends, Braised is one of the most lovely, comfortable, approachable spaces you’ll ever dine in. A quintessential blend of old and new, accented with vivid colour, is done so well, so originally, you’ll want the same look for your own dining room.
Sam brought the ceiling way up and added a garage door, instantly giving the space room to breathe. What a difference. The mix of industrial and homey touches delivers an organic feel. From the wood pieces from the mid 1880s (brought in from a farm in Grafton) and the Eastern Steel Products tin from the 1920’s that the bar is constructed from, to the modern neon sign and glass cellar, it’s such a visually engaging space. Just look at the hostess stand from an automotive plant or the installation holding the wine glasses. Do not call it furniture – this is art. And history. Ontario history, to be exact.
How Cool is This?! Well, the entire space, actually. But you should check out the local art on the walls from MJG Gallery, just down the street. Sam wanted to support the neighbourhood and showcase local artists, and MJG features over 150 original works of art by over 25 artists. The amazing grey wood piece in the front entrance? Owner of MJG, Mark Gleberzon, made it.
Off the Menu: No need to roll your eyes at this Roasted Beet Salad ($8/12). Because the beets have been roasted, there’s a real depth the to dish. The saltiness of the chopped olives and red wine marinated feta juxtaposed with the crunch of crispy kale, makes this a standout dish. The must-order dish on the menu? Crispy Pork Cheeks ($8). You won’t believe how tender they are. Beer-braised in Cameron’s ale, dusted with seasoned bread crumbs, and served with a raspberry coulis, tartar sauce, these tantalizing, addictive treats will be your new favourite snack.
And then tuck into ideal cool weather entrees such as the soft, juicy Lamb Shoulder ($20), slow-braised and then grilled, served with crispy oregano and kale, and succulent Short Rib ($25) with grilled rapini and red wine demi reduction. A preview of the soon-to-launch Fall Menu: comfort food accentuated with the introduction of Osso Bucco and the Braised Short Rib Poutine!
At the Stove: Chef Candace Chase, former pastry chef at Trinity Taverna (now called Paralia)
FOH: General Managers Marlowe and Grant
Head Honcho:Owner Sam Scanga
Mon & Tues 5pm - 11pm
Wednesday – Sunday 11am - 3pm, 5pm - 11pm
Brunch Served Saturday and Sunday - 11am – 3pm
Map It: 896 Queen St. E. (at Logan)
Phone It In: (416) 519-6280
Check out our Facebook page for all the photos.