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Introducing: Café Belong, Brad Long’s new restaurant at the Brick Works

Brad Long’s new restaurant at the Brick Works is called Café Belong—get it? (Image: Gizelle Lau)

After almost half a year of delays, Brad Longs 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 Sardellas Watershed Wall sculpture at Brick Works Antoni Tapies’s “Cloud and Chair” in Barcelona.

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Café Belong, Evergreen Brick Works, 550 Bayview Ave., 416-901-8234,

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  • scott peterson

    Had breakfast there a few weeks ago…amazing. Chef’s Giroux and DeMatteis are making this “the” place to go.

  • Paul Theriault

    I must agree with the comment of Mr.Peterson. Chefs Dematteis and Giroux are producing incredible dishes.

  • Jessica Baxter

    Hey..I was there last Sunday with friends. I still rave about the meal I had (brunch I suppose). A wonderful frittata for me and apple pork for my sister. It was wonderful. I asked our waiter who prepared our meal…she said it was Mark…cute and all. You have to try this place…yep a little pricey but way worth it.

  • GT

    Have eaten here a few times now and have to say that the food is okay but the menu selection is limited when it comes to breakfast/brunch/lunch. Don’t get me wrong, the food is okay but if you want something that is a little more familiar and less ‘try hard’ you may want to try elsewhere.

    On the take-away side okay but bloody slow. If ever a cafe front-end was after a time/space review this it. 15 mins to wait for an espresso is over the top. Had me taking my money and future business into the market.

  • Danielle

    Have only been for dinner but the food was excellent. Innovative pairings, meticulous cooking, lovely presentation. Perhaps the best roast chicken I’ve tasted, and the cured fish appetizer was outstanding. Hard to call a menu where the mains are mostly under $30 expensive.

  • Toronto Food Authority

    Can be become a little gem but it is a bit pricey. Small menu but nothing really jumps out at you and can also be tricky….like the grilled vinger chicken or sweet & sticky pork. Trying to do too much for a cafe.
    The patio can be a great place but there are little dinky umbrellas that are not providing proper shade for patrons during hot blazing days. Being in an Evergreen space, they could add some large potted plants or shrubs to spurce up the place.
    Brunch menu has some unique items and they could add standard big breakfast Cafe Belong style for people looking for nice Canadian/North American breakfast brunch.
    Would suggest that more snacking items like the ones introduced for Spring between 4pm to 6pm would be nice to have year round. Not everyone is looking for a big meal especially at a cafe. More drinks will be sold with a snacking menu.
    Overall, I like its unique location and would frequent this place if there are more menu options. Make it a Toronto/Ontario local food destination and also expand of the Ontario beer offerings.