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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
This is not a review.
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  • Cate

    $16 for a cocktail?!?! Have I been living under a rock or is that a little insane? Would give it a try for the beers, and the menu items sound amazing!

  • Keith

    Sounds like terrific value!

  • Kat

    Our table shared a number of dishes. The salted cod appetizer and side potato creamy dish were delicious. Lobster hash was not as yummy as expected. I will go back and try some other itmems on menu. Not many vegetarian options. Menu is not yet on line as web site is still under construction.

  • John

    Would I got here to pay $75 for a piece of steak ? nah! Pay $16 for a cocktail in a small glass ? Nah! appetizers and beer maybe.. little on the pretencious side but worthy of a visit but not a line up!

  • Sharon

    The $16 cocktails are 3 oz. of booze. The prices aren’t out of line for a steak house – and it’s a nice atmosphere. The food is very good – from what I had last night. I haven’t tried the steak yet – but they have a lot of neat dishes – many for sharing.

  • Darko Peric

    Judging by Peter and Gus’ track records, this place will be a hit.

  • Lisa B

    Last night a date and I had a marvelous meal and were treated fabulously by the friendly staff. The beer menu was a treat to read through with many undiscovered microbrews listed. We were able to sample before making our ultimate choice. Meal portion sizes are HUGE and offer great value for sharing. My date had the cheeseburger and the differentiator being how it is minced in-house with bone marrow which provides a unique (but delicous) flavour. I had the chicken and chips with grilled asparagus. WOW. As I write this blurb, I’m eating the remainders of the 4 generous chicken tenders. Let me end by saying that I have NO affiliation with the restaurant, nor have I been paid to write this comment. This is a matter of paying kudos to a well deserving restaurant and serve as a reminder for us to support our local talent. Thank you The Saint!

  • Sarah

    Went for brunch on Saturday – AMAZING!!! Had the poached eggs and proscuitto, to die for. Atmosphere was hip, trendy, NYC feel. We were well taken care of by great staff and the story behind the name makes me want to go back over and over again. Prices are more than fair – in fact, I thought it was quite inexpensive for what we got. See you next weekend!

  • Ann Raincock

    A group of six of us went to The Saint soon after it opened … great spot with efficient but friendly service and wonderful food. We all ordered something different, along with some unusual vegetable dishes (we had one vegetarian in our party), and then shared (though I found it hard to relinquish my duck confit!) We all look forward to returning and would like to say “congratulations” to all involved … it’s great to see great restaurants in up-and-coming areas rather than in Toronto’s hub.

  • anon

    That was the first thing that went through my mind as well. $16 for a cocktail. Its Ossington and Dundas for goodness sakes… sorry no offence to those who live there… but I will pass.

 

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