At the end of May 2011, the Toronto outpost of Montreal’s M:Brgr shut its doors after a very brief run (perhaps they didn’t sell enough $100 burgers). Now that space at King and Spadina has been taken over by five first-time restaurateurs, all in their 20s, each from a different field and all exuding a preternatural confidence about their new venture. In short order, they took an upmarket burger joint and turned it into a stylish 400-seat resto-lounge: Bloke and 4th.
Of course, “resto-lounge” is usually code for a place with mediocre food served until 10 p.m., at which point the room becomes a dance floor. The cuisine team behind Bloke, however—Adrian Niman and Brent McClenahan—assures us they’ve raised the bar. Since 2007, Niman and McClenahan have run the successful Food Dudes catering operation, with Niman in the kitchen and McClenahan managing everything else. Niman created the menu at Bloke, but his chef de cuisine, Alex Burgess, is the force behind the house-cured duck prosciutto and maple bacon, as well as homemade buffalo ricotta ($17) and ice cream in inventive flavours like basil ($10). The menu unites local and seasonal ingredients with flashes of molecular gastronomic theatre. Smoked chicken drumettes ($16) are served with a sprinkling of nitro-frozen Quebec blue cheese. Pan-roasted diver scallops ($27), meanwhile, sit atop little mounds of oxtail risotto. For the partiers, there’s a small late-night menu that riffs on all things fatty and filling (expect poutine, say, or grilled artisanal cheese on house-baked brioche).
Driving the front of the house are Michael Ullman and Reza Abedi of Something and Monroe (also known as S&M). The event planners and nightclub promoters are the force behind countless parties at the Century Room, Maison Mercer, Cheval, Nyood and The Ballroom. So yes, Bloke is indeed primarily a nightclub, with all the velvet ropes, bottle service and pounding music that entails. But from Thursday through Saturday, dinner is served, in two seatings, from 6 to 9. The final partner in the establishment is Steven Georgiev, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist with a family background in food service. He’s also the serious one of the bunch. Perhaps that’s because he spends more time pondering the bottom line or the thousands of dollars tied up in champagne inventory (a perfectly chilled bottle of Armand de Brignac Brut will run you a cool $2,200). Still, things are looking good for the new King West magnet. As Ullman told us: “We’re already fully booked a month ahead.”
Bloke and 4th, 401 King St. W., 416-477-1490, blokeand4th.com