Johnny K and Laura Prentice, owners of the new resto-lounge The Playpen, aren’t too fazed by their restaurant’s less than ideal location in a corner plaza. “We’ve always been a destination-type restaurant with bad signage,” K told us, referring to the canary-yellow sign with black typeface out front. Previous ventures for the team include Liberty, Gus, Lolita’s Lust and the just-closed Tomi-Kro, which apparently closed due to a “bad partnership.” This time around, they’re hoping to create a resto-lounge with decor inspired by the playboy lifestyle.
The decor is all K’s doing: “I love the ’70s,” he told us, comparing the ubiquitous sleek look with “casinos in Las Vegas.” The main dining area features stone floors and white tablecloths, and is brought to life by multi-coloured wall panels; the lounge has a more retro feel, with wall-to-wall carpeting and feathered light fixtures. Sensual images are dotted throughout; this is the work of Kyriakos, their server who doubles as a fashion photographer.
K uses a coinage of his own devising to describe the food at The Playpen: “Big City Cuisine.” The menu echoes what the pair has been doing for the past 30 years in 20 or so restaurants, with the lounge serving lighter fare and the dining room a proper meal. A lobster roll with chili mayo, cilantro and frites is a lounge offering ($12), while butter chicken from the dining room is served with a number of sides: pappadum, mango chutney, chili chickpeas, coconut basmati rice, raita and a coconut, raisin and pistachio mix ($21). Although the finishing touches are still being put on the drinks menu, the focus will be classic cocktails.
The Playpen, 842 Gerrard St. E., 416-907-9761