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Introducing: Bannock, Oliver and Bonacini’s new café and restaurant at The Bay’s flagship store

Inside Bannock, the new collaboration between Oliver and Bonacini and HBC (Image: Renée Suen)

It’s no secret that Hudson’s Bay Co. has undergone some big changes in recent years. The retailer’s revitalization project at its Queen Street flagship store, in partnership with Compass Group Canada and Oliver and Bonacini, is the first move toward a national conversion of its food services. To that end, it’s opened up two new restaurants aimed at attracting an increasingly food-conscious public: Foodwares Market, a modern food hall on the lower level, and Bannock, a new restaurant and café at the corner of Queen and Bay.

Named after the traditional Scottish flatbread that was adopted by indigenous people and early settlers, Bannock is the latest addition to the O&B Empire. The 4,348-square-foot, Designum-designed space is part grab-and-go café and part dine-in restaurant. The cheery café side of things, open all day, is on the west end of the Queen Street–facing restaurant. Here, ready-made sandwiches, salads and pastries from O&B Artisan fill long glass cases. Hand-crafted chocolates (some house-made, some made by Soma) are available, as is freshly brewed coffee from the coffee bar. A patio flanking Bay Street comfortably seats 20 and offers a view of Old City Hall and Nathan Phillips Square.

On the east end, Bannock’s clean and modern main dining room is lined with antique pine and concrete panels. A few windows allow diners to peek into The Bay’s men’s department, while interlocking reclaimed hemlock planks form part of the ceiling. In addition to banquettes and wooden chairs surrounding Carrara marble tables, the room also features a long harvest table under a wiry light installation. Orders for the dine-in area’s 68 patrons are filled by chef Paul Brans (Canoe, O&B Canteen) and chef de cuisine Luke Kennedy (Vancouver’s C Restaurant, London’s The Greenhouse and Oliver and Bonacini Cafe Grill) from Bannock’s centrally located open kitchen.

Bannock’s menu was designed by a team of O&B chefs—including partner Michael Bonacini and corporate executive chef Anthony Walsh—and is inspired by Canada’s regional and cultural diversity. Lunch and dinner options include crowd favourites like the St-Canut pulled pork tourtière ($16)—complete with a package of Heinz ketchup—and the Arcadian Court chicken pot pie ($16), a nod to the historic restaurant and event space on The Bay’s top floor. A pickerel taco comes with cucumber-apple salad and caviar tartar ($11). A poutine-like pizza is topped with roast duck, curds and fries ($15), while a bannock-based version has house-smoked salmon ($14). The Canadiana theme also makes its way to the cocktail list: expect drinks like the Mighty Canuck (vodka, maple syrup–infused lemonade and candied lemon), the Bannock Caesar topped with a maple-bacon garnish and, inevitably, the HBC (vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, peach purée and fresh lime).

Bannock, 401 Bay St., 416-861-6996, bannockrestaurant.ca.

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