Parts & Labour – Keeping It Cool

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Change in a restaurant is a good thing. Especially when you’re approaching your eighth anniversary.

Of course, nothing too drastic is wise too. You don’t want to get rid of everything that brought you success.

So, with the departure of Parts & Labour’s bold chef Matty Matheson (he’s off to open his own spot, do more television, etc.), comes the new guard, ready with new dishes and flavours to entice and captivate you.

New menu, who dis?

Leading the charge is Benjamin Daiken, 26, who’s coming up on five years in this kitchen (P&L was also his chosen wedding venue this past February). Now as head chef, he’s “excited to put my twist and flavour on things.”

Matty fans need not worry – his famous Dan Dan Noodles ($20), Nashville Hot Chicken ($22), P&L Burger ($19) and Cheeseburger ($19) remain on the menu and unchanged.

What’s cooking

The offerings remain “eclectic,” Daiken says. “We’re not really stuck with any particular style, so we can do many different things,” he says. “It’s a really fun place to work – there’s no limits to what we can do.”

Daiken’s current menu features classics with a twist, supplemented with traditional sauces, crumbs both savoury and sweet, and lotsa garlic.

Avocado toast is so 2016. Try Daiken’s Escargot ($18) instead. Plump gastropod mollusks and diced root veg tumble atop thick, chewy, grilled sourdough in a velvety green peppercorn cream sauce. And Crab Carbonara ($24) – a hefty house-made tagliatelle swathed in classic cream and egg yolk, tossed with double smoked bacon and fresh crab – is decadence on a plate. It’s also an ode to Daiken’s mother, a longtime fan of the dish.

Cool, cool, cool

There’s a ton of cool stuff about P&L you might not know, including:

  • They built a rooftop garden boasting herbs, honey and vegetables. In winter months, ingredients are preserved, pickled and dehydrated.

  • Sunday brunch is on – a rarity this side of West Queen West.

  • They’re serious about cocktails. Complex and intriguing, there’s nothing ordinary about these libations.

  • Wine too. They have a pretty deep list going on.

  • P&L’s a part of MealShare – Order a designated MealShare dish and provide a meal to someone in need.

  • With The Spot, a full bar with live music/DJs right downstairs, your evening is complete – no need for extra travel or lineups.

  • The best seats in the house? One of the three chef’s tables in the back – no extra charge, and you get to watch the chefs in action.

Parkdale perks

With $32 (for a six-ounce steak) the priciest dish on the menu and specials throughout the week (Fried Chicken for two on Tuesdays $27.50; Thursdays half-off Côte De Boeuf and bottles of wine), P&L is probably way more affordable than you think.

Bonus: the large room seats 120, so chances are you’re getting a table, and portion sizes are generous, so you’re not going home hungry either. Win-win.

OG for life

Parts & Labour opened in 2010. Back then, their communal tables and fire extinguisher light fixtures were pretty radical. The menu, too. They went places other restaurants dared not tread with selections including: lamb heart tartare, horse tenderloin and fried pig face. The restaurant helped put Parkdale on the map.

Still owned by the same crew – Jesse Girard and Richard Lambert of Dog and Bear, The Anne Boleyn, and Ace Hill Beer; and Castor Design’s Brian Richer and Kei Ng – the place has evolved and matured. As it should have.

That doesn’t mean, however, it’s any less awesome than it used to be.

Come see for yourself.

And stay tuned. It turns out they’re just getting started.

Parts and Labour (1566 Queen St. W.) is open for dinner and drinks Tuesday to Saturday, with brunch on Sundays.

Check out our Facebook page for more photos.