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Introducing: The Gabardine, a neighbourhood gastropub in the middle of the financial district

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

For over a decade, Katherine Rodrigues and Alison Mackenna worked in many of Toronto’s busiest Bay Street restaurants—white-tablecloth affairs where the food sometimes played second fiddle to the atmosphere. So when the two got together with chef and restaurateur Rodney Bowers—of Rosebud, Citizen and Le Petit Castor—the result was bound to put the focus where it belonged. Enter The Gabardine: a cozy yet sophisticated mom-and-pop neighbourhood gastropub smack dab in the middle of Bay Street (true to its location, The Gabardine is closed on weekends).

In the kitchen, Bowers and chef Graham Pratt, of Rosebud and Citizen, turn out unpretentious and hearty fare, like smoked trout with celeriac salad ($13) and a pulled pork sandwich with spicy pickled cabbage ($14). Such starters as salted cod cakes with smoked paprika aïoli ($9) and the large ploughman’s lunch ($17)—with homemade rillettes and pâtés, as well as local cheeses sourced from the Cheese Boutique—are tailor-made for sharing over after-work drinks. A beet risotto with goat cheese and greens ($19) and the beef stroganoff with warm buttered noodles ($23) round out the more filling options. They also serve breakfast from 8 a.m.

The space, formerly home to Blue Stone Grill and Bar, is bright, comfortable and right on trend, with high tin ceilings, warm chestnut floors and bare pine tabletops. Edison light bulbs hang over tables, and re-purposed antique train lights illuminate the bar and the pièce de résistance: a retro, dual-coloured Elektra espresso machine. A giant blackboard by the bar lists local microbrews and classic cocktails that are a hit with the after-work crowd. Hanging on the spare, white walls are framed newspaper clippings and advertisements—including, of course, an old Eaton’s ad for men’s gabardine wool coats.

The Gabardine, 372 Bay St. (at Richmond St. W.), 647-352-3211,

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  • Jeska

    I LOVE IT!!! These 2 beautiful ladies know how to get er done!! Looking forward to the wonderful service and eats!

  • Tim

    Just stopped in for a coffee as I work next door and got to say, the interior is great, staff was very personable and friendly, looking forward to trying their lunch and dinner menu. Good luck…

  • Mary

    Just had the most wonderful lunch. I was with my daughter, her boyfriend and a colleague. We were all in agreement that the food and service was exceptional. Dessert is something you don’t want to skip. We shared three different ones and they were all wonderful. We will definitely be back!

  • eddie jesus

    one of the best places in town to eat , there food is amazing !! , and a wonderfull place to hang out .

  • Kevin

    The place is cute, the service was pleasant but not fast, and the food that we had was decent. But, it’s clear that the owners are trying to make as much hay while the early sun shines, as possible. Tables are crammed together in claustrophobia-inducing closeness, and where there should be 3 they are jamming in 4.

    Service was pleasant, but if you don’t have an hour to wait for a salad and grilled cheese, you are better off going elsewhere.

    I’m sure it’s growing pains and that things will settle down, but I’m afraid I won’t be back until they do.

  • Stephen

    The decor is relaxing and cool,the staff are personable,helpful and friendly, and the food is fantastic;nice selection of beer and wine too.Ate there with my family and we all ate different things–everything was delicious,beautifully presented,interesting and fresh.It doesn’t get better than this-comfort food in a comfortable atmosphere and friendly surroundings.A great place to enjoy the food and the drink.

  • Babs Denby

    I just enjoyed the best Mac and Cheese I think I’ve ever had, thanks to a generous portion of cheese and the perfect combination of flavours. The atmosphere is warm and very tasteful and the service we experienced was top-notch (thanks, Simon!). There isn’t a place like it for miles around so I know you’re going to do well. We all hope you open on the weekends!

  • J.

    I had a lovely meal there after work, and it’s a perfect place on a winter night. The atmosphere is warm and inviting, the food was delicious, and the service was great, so I’ll definitely be back!

  • Brittany

    I had a fantastic meal at The Gabardine! The mac and cheese was perfect, best I have ever had. The desserts (we tried three) are delicious, creative and beautifully presented. I will be going back for lunch very soon.

  • Jimbo

    Wow – so many glowing (and very similar) comments for a place that’s only been open a week. THAT doesn’t look too suspicious… Anyone at TL check the IP addresses on these?

  • Natalie

    I went there the other day. Oh how I long for the days of the Bluestone, when washed out lawyers and bankers would slouch in their barstools at 3pm and yell at the barkeep. The new place is very very bright, not at all the depressing atmosphere I need after a long day of selling my soul to the man. $8/pint after tax/tip, so on par with other post-work watering holes. Especially since Houston’s cut back their happy hour to 7:00 (oh woe is me).

  • brooke

    enjoyed a wonderful dinner! absolutely fabulous burger. don’t miss the sticky toffee pudding – it’s the stuff dreams are made of! can’t wait to go back.

  • ljwtoronto

    I’m with Jimbo, I smell a rat.

  • Celery man

    Tirades like that always seem to be grounded in bitterness and seemingly are out of nowhere. Hate postings on a restaurant write up is horrendously stupid. I am an employee of the gabardine. What is so suspect about receiving good feedback? we have been listening to all constructive feedback good and bad. READ constructive. Hope to see you all down at the resto again soon!

  • Work Week Neighbour

    Sounds like a great job so far guys! I work next door and have watched the transformation from the old (and I mean old) Bluestone to this refreshing addition to Bay Street. I look forward to trying them for lunch and dinner in the near future. Do they offer coffee/latte to go? If so, there’s an office full of business coming their way!

  • shush celery

    hey celery man, take it easy. if the resto is doing great that’s good for u guys but let ppl leave comments if they choose. at least they’re not bashing the place which I am sure will do just fine if ppl want to pay $15 for mac and cheese or $14 for a pulled pork sandwich-how bout $9 for what look like 3 balls of cod? it’s bay street so the prices seem suitable for the crowd but hey if people go purely by the hype of these reviews and go there only to find it’s crap then so be it, they will hopefully write about it too and when they do, don’t get ur panties up in a bunch OK?

  • Peacekeeper

    In defense of celery man…he was responding to a rather offensive post that TL was thoughtful enough to remove from the website earlier today. I have been following the dialogue and can see that CM’s comment now seems a tad extreme and slightly out of context – so I thought some clarification was due to be fair!

  • Mitchell

    Simple comment . . . Have long been looking for a new place to hang out after work and this location looks perfectly suited for what I am looking for. Don’t need high end, don’t need pretentious, just looking for a nice corner where I can reflect and absorb. The menu looks perfectly suited, the decor comforting.

  • serial diner

    Went for dinner last night. Nice atmosphere, staff and menu. Food was good – nothing mind-blowing though. Had the grilled cheese and salad. Cheese was not melted and I really don’t think there was dressing on the greens. Kind of boring. Tried a bite of my friend’s stroganoff – again, good but not mind blowing. Butter tart was amazing. For dinner, I found the portions quite small considering the price. Good size as a lunch portion but still over priced. Having said all this, I would go back. Overall a nice experience.

  • Mike

    I agree with serial diner. Good food, portions are on the smallish side. Wish i had the butter tart but, toffee and cocktails were good. The Shirley temple was great.

    The interior was very impressive. I’m not much for interiors but I really liked the look and feel of this place. I get a le Select type feel from the place. When the place settles down a little, I’ll come back.

  • lm

    Great Job Girls!!!! as a fellow Woman owner and Fellow colleague, GREAT GREAT GREAT, For those of you who want to leave a nasty comment, take your own money and open up your own place! I wish this restaurant all the best wishes it deserves and I look forward to a wicked mac and cheese! The place looks amazing and knowing first hand the service is incredible.

  • gk

    Had lunch there today. Had the hamburger. Very yummy (not the usual overcooked cardboard that is served elsewhere in the downtown core for 3X the price). Quick service — key at lunchtime. Only complaint: tables close to the front door are a bit on the chilly side!

  • François

    I’ve tried it at all three meals and I love the food – there is some originality there. The portion sizes are perfect (are you all looking to have a good meal, or to gorge until you get stuck in doorways?) and the prices are great – this is Bay and Richmond, not a Newmarket strip mall!

  • Brent

    Just had the pulled pork sandwich and salad. While the food was good, the service was terrible. It took almost an hour and a half to get in and out for a “quick” lunch.

  • Michael


  • Dan

    I have to be honest, I was expecting the comments to be author-published; however after visiting I’ve got nothing but praise as well.

    Love the beers on tap, great decor, good service and probably the best “home-made” food in the core…

    Had the mac and cheese and the burger…delish…girlfriend had the sticky toffee pudding for desert and it was deadly…

    We’ll be back, without a doubt!

  • Toronto Cliff

    It is always a delight to eat at Gabardine! The Cod is to die for, the burger is fantastic! To all the staff….you spoil us!

  • John

    Sadly menu hasn’t really changed and breakfast service was slow (painfully slow). Bannock’s prices and selection seem better.

  • Brent

    Too bad the owner is homophobic.

  • The Gabardine

    @Brent : As the owners of The Gabardine we can assure you that nothing could be father from the truth! Half of our staff is gay, our best friends that built our restaurant are gay ,we have gay family members and are very proud supporters of the gay community. Just wanted to set the record “straight”! :)

  • Restos in TO

    Ate here last night. Like the concept, great cozy gastropub atmosphere in the financial district. This said, food didn’t exaclty wow me. Had a so-so terrine, but a much better cioppino. Think I should probably head back for more of the comfort food.

    Check out our review of The Gabardine here:

    Restos in TO

  • Pete Batushin

    Awesome food,very friendly staff and a chilled atmosphere to kick back with a craft beer and people watch. What is not to like? Life’s too short