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Top Chef Canada’s Ryan Gallagher to helm a revamped Reds

News of big changes at Reds Bistro and Wine Bar, SIR Corp’s signature Bay Street power restaurant: Michael Steh, who left a sous-chef gig at Splendido to take over Reds’ kitchen in 2006, is out as executive chef. Replacing him is Ryan Gallagher, who made it to episode nine in the last season of Top Chef Canada and worked until recently at Ruby Watchco (there’s a studly-chef photo of him, tattoos and all, on Reds’ new website). But the changes go further than that. The restaurant will be shutting down on September 1 for three weeks of top-to-bottom renovation. When the dust clears, the restaurant will have a new feel and a new name: Reds Wine Tavern. We spoke with assistant general manager Ayla Neilly to get the details.

Neilly tells us that Steh actually left the restaurant about three months ago to spend more time with his growing family (for now at least), and that Gallagher has been on board for two months now. The food will be moving to an all-day “tavern-style”  menu, with plenty of big cuts of meat and sharing plates at a slightly lower price point. The two-storey space will be transformed “from the ground up,” Neilly tells us: new tables, new chairs, plenty of vintage pieces (including a shuffleboard), an extended bar and four large communal tables made out of a big, salvaged tree. The whole thing, she says, should give off a “Mad Men vibe.” The 80-seat patio will also be getting a significant overhaul. To deal with the crowds that the revamp is expected to draw, Reds will be staffing up extensively (indeed, there are front- and back-of-house job fairs taking place on August 13 and 20). With the arrival of The Gabardine last year, and with fellow Top Chef-er Carl Heinrich opening The Richmond Station imminently, it seems that Bay Street is finally getting its share of the laid-back, meat-heavy places with rustic and reclaimed touches that have been appearing all over the city.