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Introducing: The Saint, Ossington’s long-awaited and oft-delayed contemporary tavern

(Image: Gizelle Lau)

When we first told you about The Saint back in 2009, we said it would open in April—and it will, albeit three years later than expected. After a long licensing battle with the city, during which time most of the Ossington strip was redeveloped, the restaurant is finally slated to open to the public today. We dropped by to get a look behind windows that have been covered for years.

Behind The Saint are owners Peter Tsebelis and Gus Giazitzidis of King Street Food Company, the group responsible for Buca and Jacobs and Co. (it also opened Brassaii, which it later sold). The restaurant’s name is a nod to the Wesley United Church, once located at the northwest corner of Dundas and Ossington (before it was even called Ossington), the western limit of the city at the time. Built in 1875, the church boasted over 2,000 members and was a mainstay of the community—until it burned down in 1957. Likewise, the owners hope their contemporary tavern will become a true local, with food and drink playing equal parts (see: the 40-foot zinc bar at the heart of the restaurant, designed by Guido Costantino). At the front, dark bistro-style tables offer walk-in seating for dinner or drinks, while the back of the restaurant features larger dining tables, all set off by the bright subway tiles on the walls. Across from the bar sit plush semicircle oxblood booths, lending the space a little of the lavishness we’d expect from the owners of Jacobs and Co.

At the front of the house, Adam Graham (Brassaii) presides over a whisky- and bourbon-heavy bar, which also features eight beers on tap and two cocktail lists, one of classics ($14) and another filled with more modern twists ($16). The food, by executive chef Andrew Bradford (Jacobs and Co., Brassaii, Spoke Club), is billed as “food that makes you happy,” with classics like shrimp cocktail ($12), roasted bone marrow ($15) and steak tartare ($14) to start. For main courses, you’ll find the Saint cheeseburger ($16), lobster and corned beef hash ($22), fried chicken and fries ($18) and a small steaks ’n’ chops list: a 25-ounce T-bone ($49), a 40-ounce porterhouse ($75) and a 32-ounce bone-in rib-eye ($55). On Sundays only, family-style suppers are offered at $45 per person and come with caesar salad or French onion soup, roast beef au jus, loaded baked potato, Yorkshire pudding and daily pie.

And yes, in case you were wondering, there will be brunch, served on Saturday, Sunday and Monday (to accommodate industry folks). On offer: pecan crêpes ($12), steak and eggs ($18), eggs St. Benedict [sic] ($13) and stuffed French toast ($13). We’d predict long lineups for the first few weeks—people have been waiting three years for this, after all.

The Saint, 227 Ossington Ave., 647-350-2100, thesainttavern.com

Our Introducing series explores newly opened restaurants, bars and shops throughout the GTA
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