When Nav Sangha (Wrongbar, The Great Hall) took over the former Blue Moon Pub at Queen and Broadview, the first thing he did was repaint everything matte black. “When we took it over it was just a mess of colour,” he tells us. “We couldn’t even think about what to do before we covered it.” It’s now been opened as Riverside Public House, and for this third venture, Sangha has teamed up with Mike Homewood (The Curzon in Leslieville) and Top Chef Canada season one vet Dustin Gallagher (formerly of Grace). The new restaurant is a far cry from its predecessor, with more serious eats and a slicker new look.
The Riverside’s new vibe sits somewhere between upscale pub and late-night venue, with classic red and black checkerboard floors, exposed brick and wooden walls and high ceilings. As at Wrongbar, the music is turned up loud, and the room is dimly lit, although there’s a little natural light that peeks in from the skylights. The oval-shaped bar divides the small window-lit seating area at the front from the the large leather booths and high-tops at the back. Behind them, taking about a quarter of the space, is a stage and dance floor at the back. Sangha plans to have a no-cover weekly schedule of live music, beginning with Motown bands on Fridays and Saturdays.
Matt Gregoris, formerly of Susur, is in the midst of developing a specialty cocktail menu, with plans of in-house infusions. Already, there’s a healthy list of local microbrews in bottles and on draught. But the big draw, of course, is Gallagher, he of the 1,000-watt smile. Citing his experiences on a recent trip across Europe, Gallagher has a new appreciation of simplicity when it comes to food. After 10 years in more refined quarters, he’s thrilled to be serving what he refers to as “the day-to-day food I enjoy to eat.” The menu leans toward Canadiana-tinged comfort food, and was developed with the idea that people would want to return several nights a week, with hearty plates like mussels on grilled bread ($11). Mains include traditional pub fare, such as the Riverside burger with smoked mozzarella and fries ($15), Hooked-sourced halibut and chips ($20) a porcini and mushroom pot pie with seasonal salad ($18) and a hefty Ploughman’s Plate ($16). Located right beside the Opera house, the Riverside seems poised to draw a crowd both before and after shows. And the complimetary house-made caramels they grab on the way out might just draw them back.
The Riverside has a grand opening party on August 9 featuring The Great Lake Survival and other musical acts
Riverside Public House, 725 Queen St. E., 647-348-0880, @RiversidePublic