Just Opened: Parts and Labour, Parkdale’s new bar-club-restaurant-art gallery-wine bar

Just Opened: Parts and Labour, Parkdale’s new bar-club-restaurant-art gallery-wine bar

Bring on the bream: Parts and Labour's tables await dinner and diners 

For many residents of Parkdale, the opening of Parts and Labour at the Roncy end of Queen West means one of two things: here’s a new restaurant, or here’s a new nightclub masquerading as a restaurant. Anyone who attended last week’s official opening could be forgiven for suspecting the latter, as throngs of people crowded the P&L bar—and they weren’t ordering food.

(Images: Jon Sufrin) 

City hall’s lack of distinction between restaurants and bars has been a lingering problem for residents along Queen West since the opening of The Drake, but first impressions can be deceiving. Parts and Labour is spacious enough (and the bar is big enough) to host a raucous party, but chef Matty Matheson has drawn up a menu for serious foodies. Sample entries—served to the thumping bass of The Stooges and the like—include peppercorn-crusted horse tenderloin with bone marrow ($36) or grilled whole sea bream ($28) with creamed savoy cabbage. All the pasta is made in-house and the ragout ($18) features short rib that have been braised for 24 hours. The entire roof is occupied by a well-maintained garden that supplies the kitchen with greens, radishes and herbs. Owners are unclear, though, about whether a rooftop patio is in the works.

“There were a few problems with [city councillor] Gord Perks, because he thought we were going to be a club,” recalls co-owner Brian Richer from Castor Design, who’s partly responsible for the arty feel of the place. “But we’ve invested so heavily in the kitchen and kitchen equipment.”

If residents are confused as to what the restaurant means for the neighborhood, it may be because Parts and Labour is a jack of all trades. “The most challenging part of what we’re doing is trying to open something that’s more than one thing,” says co-owner Richard Lambert. The restaurant, with its eight large, communal tables, becomes a wine bar later in the evening; there’s a venue for live music in the basement—“you don’t hear anything outside,” owners say—while Nicholas Brown from Red Bull 381 and Toronto Life’s own Catherine Dean curate art shows.

Local businesses are excited about the investment into Parkdale, and say that concerns from residents are tapering. “There were a lot of upset people originally,” says Mark Cutrara, who runs Cowbell right next door. “There were concerns about noise levels, people puking in the streets. I don’t think it’s going to be that kind of place.”

Parts and Labour, 1566 Queen St. W., 416-588-7750, partsandlabour.ca.