The Commissary, a new Leslieville lunch spot, bucks the healthy hippie fare and burgers that dominate the area and opts instead for dishes like lobster bisque or shrimp flatbread pizza. When Sophie shut its doors, the Commissary’s four partners moved in and started the redesign, taking the 32-seat space from stark white and acid green to earthy warmth in russet, with exposed brick and reclaimed barn boards. Commissary chefs Andrew Bridgman and Rod Dannewald designed their menu around an unmet niche. “We asked the neighbourhood what it wanted,” says Bridgman, “and they said there’s nowhere to have lunch.”
Co-owner and front-of-house man Adam Cacciatore (whose time in the restaurant business dates back to peeling potatoes in the kitchen of his dad’s strip bar), has an unorthodox approach to staffing. “I only hired servers with no experience,” he told us. “I want them to still be smiling and curious about learning the business—this is a please-and-thank you-restaurant.” The team also gets the customers involved in menu development, asking what folks liked or didn’t and what they want to see on the menu. Currently, it offers spins on classic salads ($4–$7), soups ($4.50–$6) and sandwiches ($4–$9), as well as naan pizzas ($9–$11). At brunch, the kitchen sticks to several variations of eggs benny (including a $13 lobster variant) and French toast (including apple and brie, $9), and the coffee is from Café Feminino—grown by women, with profits going to foster positive change of women in the world’s coffee growing regions.
The partners have a green bent too, with plenty of salvaged wood around (from Urban Tree Salvage), along with secondhand and re-purposed pieces. The kitchen is keeping it as local as possible, relying on suppliers from the area—fish from Hooked, cheeses and bagels from Leslieville Cheese Market, breads from Brick Street—and employing a “use the whole animal” ethos. Next up for the Commissary: dinner service, a boulevard patio, fresh juices, house-made ice creams and tapas-style dining.
The Commissary, 889 Queen St. E., 416-477-3393, thecommissary.ca