After almost half a year of delays, Brad Long’s Café Belong finally opened at the Evergreen Brick Works on Saturday morning, to throngs of farmers’ market shoppers. Long is well established in the Toronto food scene, as a co-owner of Veritas and a previous executive chef for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment and the CN Tower’s 360 restaurant (he’s of course also familiar from Food Network Canada’s Restaurant Makeover). “We were looking for someone who would be able to create and cater to a community fostering local food,” Brick Works programming director Arlene Stein told us. “Brad was a perfect fit.”
Long’s sourcing philosophy at Café Belong is just what you would expect from a restaurant at the Brick Works: local, organic, sustainable and otherwise responsibly sourced ingredients, much of which come from the farmers who show up at the market every Saturday morning. The lunch, dinner and brunch menus, created by Long and chef de cuisine Daniel DeMatteis, lean heavily on nostalgic dishes that make the most of seasonal produce, with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Appetizers include the St. Lawrence Salad, with greens, grains, nuts, fruit and cheese ($12) and cured fish with honeyed crème fraiche ($14), while heartier mains include grilled beef ($24), milk-braised lamb with spelt ($19) or vegetarian pot barley ($16). The menu also features themed family-style meals, like a “beef BBQ” or “vegan’s banquet,” at market prices. There’s also a takeout café during the day, with coffee, tea, pastries and breakfast and lunch sandwiches.
Behind the bar, mixologist Renata Clingen (also the restaurant GM) plans to feature an extensive cocktail menu, wines from Somewhereness (a collection of boutique wineries including Flat Rock, Norman Hardie, Stratus and Cave Springs), Muskoka Brewery beers on tap and other Canadian craft brews. Pop is made in-house, from syrup to carbonation, yet another example of getting as close to the source as possible.
John Tong of 3rd Uncle Design (Cava, The Drake, Tattoo Rock Parlour) created an airy dining room inspired by Argentinian cafés. Reclaimed wooden beams loaded with red, orange and yellow Le Creuset pots separate the kitchen from the dining room. Over the heads of diners hangs a giant steampunk light fixture that was inspired by
Ferruccio Sardella’s Watershed Wall sculpture at Brick Works .
Café Belong, Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave., 416-901-8234, cafebelong.ca