For almost two decades, the Ace Chinese Restaurant on Roncesvalles has been shuttered. This spring, however, Maggie Ruhl (co-owner of the Dakota Tavern) and her partner, Greg Boggs, took possession of the space. The pair renamed it simply The Ace and have preserved the vintage 1950s aesthetic, but updated the menu with homestyle comfort food and French classics.
Ruhl and Boggs knew they wanted to keep as much of the original diner charm as possible. Apart from updating the lighting fixtures, painting the ceiling, fixing the floors (there was some serious water damage to deal with) and reupholstering the booths, this time warp hasn’t changed much. They’ve even kept the original soda fountain and milkshake mixer (although the latter has been converted into a beer draught).
Executive chef Peter McKnight (Wish, Smith) serves elevated takes on blue-collar standards, like deep-fried chicken and collard greens ($17) and pork chops with russet mashed potatoes and red-eye gravy ($17). There are also more straightforward French dishes, like steak frites ($21) and a tarragon-tomato-fennel based bouillabaisse ($18), which is made with Lake Huron whitefish, shrimp and mussels. A kids’ menu offers standards like mac-and-cheese and house-made pogo sticks (all under $8), and a weekend brunch includes comfort classics like cheddar biscuits with scrambled eggs and ham gravy ($10). The drinks, meanwhile, veer toward the brown spirits, with an emphasis on bourbon and Canadian whisky. The Ace Manhattan is made with Crown Royal Black, sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters and is garnished with an apricot that’s stewed in cinnamon-spiced red wine ($10). After 11 p.m., the space is transformed into a bar, but for those still peckish there is a small menu of snacks like the Chef Plate (Mennonite and summer sausage, olives and cheeses), a cheese plate and oysters, as soon as the bar and wait staff learn to shuck.
The Ace, 231A Roncesvalles Ave., 416-792-7729, theacetoronto.com