Toronto’s new restaurant takes you to the Hamptons for a night


Instead of jumping on a plane, Torontonians can visit a new restaurant in town that takes customers on a quick trip to the Hamptons for an evening.

“The concept behind it is like it’s a house in the Hamptons,” co-owner Rachel Chartrand said as she sat across from partner Mike Young.

The Hamptons’ kitchen, which opened earlier this month, can’t get bogged down in a traditional sense.

Instead, Chartrand and Young, who also own Bar Montauk, strive to create an experience.

Their physical space plays a central role in achieving this goal. The establishment on Clinton and College streets is located in an old house, formerly Pinky’s Ca Phe, just north of Café Diplomatico.

Upon entry, the restaurant resembles a guesthouse with white-paneled windows and a seating area where guests can sip oysters and sip wine on teak furniture. Upon arrival, everyone is welcomed with a splash of prosecco. This ambiance extends into a large back garden enclosed by white picket fences with lush green leaves hanging above them.

“It’s in the house and we wanted to make it feel like it was constantly changing and moving and the furniture made it feel like you were in a house and having a really nice dinner party,” Chartrand said.

Every morning, the owners select their ingredients at Kensington Market. If something is not in stock, they modify their menu.

“We work with [the supply chain]”, Young said. “If it’s not on the menu, it was not fresh.

“We are exactly what the new normal is,” added his partner.

Their current offerings — or what Chartrand calls season one, episode one of their evolving menu — feature raw foods in the spotlight.

The anchor of their appetizers is their three-way butter – a creamy meadow butter drizzled with honey, a salt cod butter from Norway, and an ‘nduja butter that takes on a burnt orange hue. The three knobs of butter are served with a seeded Blackbird bread.

As a starter, there is a venison fillet tartare with a Dijon component sprinkled with capers and accompanied by a shell of butter lettuce. There are also baby shrimp and a bay scallop crudo.

As the weather changes, so will the menu. This raw theme will evolve into dishes that accompany cooler temperatures, giving way to a pizza oven where they plan to cook whole fish and oysters.

“It goes back to the organic kind of Nordic Scandinavian approach to our ethos here and stays true to the ingredients without altering them,” Chartrand says.

In February, when the couple took possession of their space, they knew it was a crazy time to start a new business, especially in the restaurant industry. But when they passed by Clinton Street and saw the property was available for rent, they fell in love with it.

“It came to us more than we’re looking for,” Young said.

Over time, they want to expand the restaurant and occupy the upper floors of the house to create a variety of experiences as well as a Friday night Hamptons house party.

“The end goal is in a couple of years we’re going to take this space back and build it up and do a whole house experience. It’s like a social house without being a social host,” Chartrand said.


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