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Introducing: The Grove, Dundas West’s new spot for modern English cuisine

Owners Fritz Wahl, chef Ben Heaton and Richard Reyes (Image: Renée Suen)

Over the last few years, formerly low-rent areas like Ossington, Parkdale and Dundas West have become culinary destinations, with a spate of new restaurants serving up affordable and inventive cuisine in casual dining rooms. The latest in this line is The Grove, a 50-seat Dundas West restaurant from chef Ben Heaton (One, Colborne Lane, Globe Bistro), Richard Reyes (One) and Fritz Wahl (Senses) that’s aimed at introducing Toronto diners to modern English cuisine.

The trio, who met while working at Far Niente, worked with David Rad (S333 Design and Construction) to turn what was once a dentist’s office into a contemporary space that oozes faux-old warmth. Here, worn-in woods and raw exposed bricks are mixed with rough, textured wallpaper and ripped drywall (a large mirror and vintage wallpaper will eventually be added to the long room’s western wall). Antique pieces—a beer fridge from the ’50s, a whitewashed kitchen cupboard, mismatched chairs and sundry knick-knacks Reyes picked up off of Craigslist—are peppered throughout. Furniture makers Brothers and Sons created the harvest table in the glassed-in front corner of the restaurant (made out of old Douglas fir beams from the room’s ceiling), along with the pine tables and banquettes and the eight-seat bar top (repurposed squash court flooring). While the owners were readying the restaurant, they also participated in a series of charity pop-up dinners with First Drop Canada, hosted in various locales with makeshift kitchens, with industry friends in tow (six more events are upcoming).

Heaton’s custom-built kitchen at the room’s rear is a new addition. Here, Heaton makes British cuisine to reflect his heritage. Stereotypically stodgy foods are reinvented: a potato and leek soup, for example, is presented as a stack of roasted mini-potatoes with charred leeks and soy emulsion, with cheddar espuma added to the tower just before service ($10). Heaton’s take on surf and turf pairs beef two ways—skirt steak and short ribs—with oysters, both fried and in an emulsion, served with samphire (sea asparagus) and thin slices of radish ($24). Uncommon ingredients (to Toronto menus at least) like buckthorn, clotted cream, snails and stinging nettles abound, paired with products from suppliers like Hooked, 100km Foods and Perth Pork Products. The menu will rotate according to the availability of ingredients, and a $65 five-course tasting menu is also available. The kitchen is currently open to 11 p.m., but a late-night menu serving classic English grub like scotch eggs and pork crackling is on the way as well. To go with that, the restaurant offers wines chosen by Wahl, a tight, English-style cocktail list and a mix of local beers on tap—including, of course, some cask ales.

The Grove, 1214 Dundas St. W., 416-588-2299, thegroveto.com

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This is not a review.
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  • Matt Blondin

    Now those are some handsome devils !!!! :)

  • Sean Schumacher

    This IS my favourite spot in Toronto, hands down.

  • harry

    yet aonother duo of hacks bringing toronto food down to the ground.

  • BG011

    Those portions look extremely chintzy and who in their right mind would drink Jim Beam and pickle juice? Where did they get the inspiration for that shot? Trailor Park Boys hehe

  • Liz

    By far the finest explosion of flavours in Toronto’s new restaurant scene. I experienced the tasting menu and every single dish was frankly amazing. Try it.

  • impeachford

    i am becoming exhausted at the just rolled out of bed and smelled the cleanest shirt on the floor look that passes for suitable attire to prepare, cook and serve customers

  • Saymyname

    Hey, look! A bearded, plaid-shirted bartender serving bourbon! And, wait, is that… I think it is! An interior full of vintage and reclaimed wood furniture! I’ve never seen the likes.

  • impeachford

    i enjoyed ben heaton’s work at globe….

  • Lisa

    My partner and I were very disappointed by our experience at The Grove. The food was okay, however, the portions were so small that after an entree and appetizer, we both left hungry. When I asked the waitress if they had bread after we finished our meal (clearly this was a sign to her that the food was not filling), she said they don’t have bread and she just walked away. The waitress didn’t seem interested whether we were satisfied with the food or not and the staff gave us bad looks as we left for questioning their food. I am usually not one to complain about these things but the food wasn’t cheap (over $25 for an entree) and even at fine restaurants where you expect small portions, I have been more satisfied. I give my experience at the Grove a D+ for mediocre food, few choices from the menu, small portions and a bad attitude from the staff. Good luck with that winning formula!

  • Disappointed customer

    S333 Design and Construction is probably the best professionals in toronto. They are dishonest and true examples of poor workmanship. Avoid at all costs.

  • MDB

    I think people can say and believe whatever they want…what’s not cool is pretending to be someone else just to stir the pot…wow, there is some kind of hatred out there!…I also wish things would be kept somewhat on topic i.e “Lisa” and “Liz”, remember people have families…peace and all the best to everyone!

  • Larry

    i was underwhelmed by the menu, and disgusted by the food. it was really, really bad. i am surprised that people rate it so highly. was it just an off night?

  • SEC

    Well I can only speak to my experience but I enjoyed absolutely everything on the tasting menu at the Grove, as did my husband! We highly recommend this restaurant for its amazing food and attentive service. Because they are a new establishment it might be worth a second visit for those of you who were previously disappointed? I think the Grove has found its groove…

    Cheers, SEC

  • Another disappoineted customer

    RIP OFF!!

    FEED YOUR CUSTOMERS. The food tasted great and was beautifully presented, but the portions were mere tastings on what is supposed to be an entree. Had the “Trout, Crab and Courgette with Basil”, was $20 and was smaller than a standard appetizer serving!! It was just a very small piece of seared trout, with a few shavings of zucchini and a few dabs of basil sauce. All the dishes that our group of 4 ordered were tiny portions, some of us ordered two and we all left hungry with our stomachs growling. People can’t be expected to order 4-5 dishes and spend $60-80 to feel satiated from a meal.

 

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