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Food & Drink

Everything to eat and drink at Queen’s Cross, the Eaton Centre’s fancy new 19,000-square-foot food hall

Each vendor (including one full-service bar) is courtesy of Oliver and Bonacini

By Erin Hershberg| Photography by Jelena Subotic
A spread of food available inside Queen's Cross, the Eaton Centre's new food hall

While the food court (with its long-standing reputation for gloopy beef and broccoli, mediocre pizza slices and rubbery shawarma) does hold a certain nostalgic appeal, the food hall (the glowed-up version of the court) is slowly taking over, one mall at a time. The latest addition to the elevated shopping mall eatery landscape is Queen’s Cross, a selection of vendors—each conceived and developed by Oliver and Bonacini—in what was once the sad subterranean Eaton Centre food court.

This is no conglomeration of characterless lunch counters. Within the 19,000-square-foot space that houses more than 15 fast-casual restaurants (and one full-service cocktail bar), fun neon signage, a bold colour palette, lush greenery and mosaic tiling help to revitalize the food court’s old-school charm.

The Eaton Centre's new lower-level food hall, Queen's Cross
People eat in Queen's Cross, the Eaton Centre's new food hall
Captain Neon inside Queen's Cross Food Hall inside the Eaton Centre

Sure, there’s still Chinese food and pizza, but O&B chef Michael Robertson makes it clear that there is nary an overcooked chicken ball or cardboard-like pepperoni slice in sight. Instead, Asian restaurants like Happy Tangle churn out freshly steamed bao buns stuffed with braised five-spice pork belly, roasted, rendered to crisp perfection and finished with a variety of house pickles. And Red Sauce, the obligatory Italian spot, serves up fresh pasta with homemade sauce and the option to add in some meatballs or eggplant parm. You had a good run, Sbarro.

Here’s a look at everything there is to eat and drink at the new Queen’s Cross Food Hall.

Everything to eat and drink at Queen's Cross, the Eaton Centre's fancy new 19,000-square-foot food hall
Lala's Cantina and Babel Hummus Bar inside Queen's Cross Food Hall
Babel Hummus Bar

Loosely based on former O&B restaurant Babel (RIP), this Middle Eastern counter does justice to the layered flavours, varied textures and harmonious spices of the cuisine. From a selection of healthful meals that includes whole-grain tabbouleh, roasted eggplant and couscous, the hummus bowl is the standout: a spiced mixture of rice and slow-cooked beans covered with creamy hummus, chunks of tomato and cucumber, crunchy iceberg lettuce, and tangy pickles. The flavourful medley is finished with a tahini-pomegranate dressing. Optional add-ons include halal chicken, toasted pita or—our favourite—fried-to-order falafel.

A hummus and falafel bowl from Babel Hummus Bar
Le Petit Cornichon

A fast-casual offshoot of Maison Selby, O&B’s elevated French bistro, Le Petit Cornichon serves a menu of reinterpreted classics like steak frites in sandwich form and a red wine–braised chicken-and-mushroom melt with coq au vin roots. There’s also a niçoise salad: a mix of spinach and romaine joined by tomatoes, steamed green beans, niçoise olives, pickled onions, boiled potatoes and hard-boiled eggs, all tossed in a bright dill vinaigrette. There’s also the option to add tuna or some of that red wine–braised chicken.

A tuna Niçoise salad from Le Petit Cornichon
Gil’s Fish and Chipperie

Inspired by the coastal fish-and-chip shops of the UK, Gil’s serves a straightforward menu of shrimp or haddock with chips and a signature Crispy Fishwich. The fish is brined for 12 hours, then dipped in a simple batter of flour, spices and ice-cold water and quickly fried. On the side: some house tartar sauce for dipping.

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An order of fish and chips from Gil's Fish and Chipperie
Beauty’s Fried Chicken

Taking cues from its big sister, Beauty Eats, BFC sticks to all things fried chicken and the sides to match (hello, tater tots). Guests can order wings by the pound, breaded boneless chicken breast and tiny tenders—but the sandwich is the gold standard. Cooked in a pressure fryer, the perfectly juicy and crisp chicken is stuffed inside a Martin’s potato bun and smothered in creamy coleslaw, sweet and sour pickles, and tomato slices. A drizzle of Swanky Sauce—a sweet-and-sour dressing, borrowed from neighbouring Swanky Burger, of mayo, simple syrup, chives and spices—brings it to life.

A fried chicken sandwich from Beauty's Fried Chicken
Underground Sandwich

Here we have chef-y takes on classic sandwiches, plus the odd twist. Hot sandwiches include Nonna’s Meatball Sub, a bun stuffed with house-made pork meatballs, fresh tomato and garlic sauces, melty mozzarella, peppery arugula and parmigiano-reggiano. An early favourite from the menu of cold sammies is shaved roast beef finished with arugula, horseradish, Dijon, onions and cheese. There’s also a chicken sandwich interpreted through an Indian lens: curry-spiced roasted chicken inside a milk bun dressed with an onion-tamarind chutney and topped with smoked mozzarella, caramelized pineapple and ripe tomatoes.

Underground Sandwich's Island Chicken Tikka Sandwich
Captain Neon

Captain Neon is where you’ll find hand-rolled maki and a build-your-own-poke-bowl bar. While the grab-and-go sushi rolls are convenient, the poke is the real draw. The bowl begins with a base of seasoned sushi rice dressed in a pickled ginger and lemon kewpie mayo and topped with chunky avocado, pickled carrot, steamed edamame, seaweed salad, quick-pickled cucumbers and crispy onions. On top: tuna, salmon or tofu dressed in a chili-sesame marinade.

A salmon poke bowl from Captain Neon
Garden Variety

Greens steal the spotlight at Garden Variety, a plant-positive kiosk specializing in salads that tick all the high-protein and dairy-free boxes. The Jacked Carbs, built on a blend of arugula and spinach, is chock full of lentils, sweet potato, fried tortilla strips, spicy chickpeas and black beans, brightened up with a citrus vinaigrette and topped with Monterey Jack cheese.

The Jacked Up Carbs salad from Garden Variety
Red Sauce

This old-but-new-school Italian counter follows the build-your-own-[insert dish here] approach. While a customized chicken parm sandwich is tempting, it’s hard to pass up a bespoke bowl of made-to-order pasta, like casarecce in roasted pepper rose sauce with a slice of eggplant parm and perhaps even a tiny orb or two of creamy burratini.

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Casarecce with roasted pepper rose sauce from Red Sauce inside Queen's Cross Food Hall
Libretto Slice Shop

At this collaboration between O&B and Pizzeria Libretto, pizza by the slice—whether it’s a floppy NY-style triangle or a thick Sicilian square—is the name of the game. Toppings are both classic (Ezzo pepperoni, ham, mushrooms) and not-so-classic (gorgonzola).

A square slice of Sicilian-style pepperoni pizza from Libretto Slice Shop
Happy Tangle

Here, freshly steamed bao buns are stuffed with tender roasted pork belly or sweet-and-spicy braised mushroom, and bowls of either lo mein noodles or rice are topped with things like General Tso chicken or preserved black-bean beef. A Thai-inspired fried eggplant and tofu bowl comes dressed in a caramelized honey soy sauce and topped with crispy onions, pickled Anaheim chilies, fresh Thai basil and toasted black and white sesame seeds.

Steamed bao from Happy Tangle
A Thai-inspired roasted eggplant and tofu bow from Happy Tangle inside Queen's Cross Food Hall
Swanky Burger

There are a few healthy-ish options at this burger joint, like the avocado-and-turkey burger or the plant-based Impossible burger, but the standout is the French Connection Burger—a lesson in decadence. A play on French onion soup, it tops a couple of three-ounce all-beef patties with caramelized onions, some of that previously mentioned Swanky Sauce, melted Swiss cheese, and sweet-and-sour pickles. On the side: fries or onion rings.

The French Connection burger and fries from Swanky Burger
Lala’s Cantina

The words “Mexican mall food” bring to mind greying guacamole and re-re-refried beans, but Lala’s Cantina—Leña’s little sister—kicks those preconceptions to the curb. Here, guajillo-spiced beef, chicken or black beans are swaddled in steamed and pressed corn tortillas, then dressed with house pico de gallo, pickled onion, tomatillo salsa, raw cabbage and fresh cilantro. On the side: sour cream and (actually green) guacamole.

Tacos from Lala Cantina
Curryosity

As its name suggests, this counter is where you’ll find curry in a hurry—but the food hasn’t been rushed. The butter chicken is marinated in a dry rub of Indian spices (turmeric, garam masala, Kashmiri chili powder, cumin, fenugreek), then slow-roasted in the oven before being added to a rich tomato-cashew sauce. It’s served on a base of steamed basmati and finished with pickled chilies, cream, peanuts and cilantro.

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A bowl of butter chicken curry from Curryosity
Lil Rebel

Part of the food hall’s rotating pop-up program, Lil Rebel is where R&D chef Eric Chong churns out a selection of Chinese dishes including tom yum soup dumplings, maitake mushroom fried rice and Hainanese chicken poached for four hours in an aromatic lemongrass broth. The bird is then served on long-grain rice and drizzled with house hoisin. A stir-fried paste of ginger and scallions, thinly sliced cucumbers and cilantro finish the dish.

Hainanese chicken from Lil Rebel
Crossbar

This full-service café and bar offers coffee and breakfast in the mornings and liquid lunches in the afternoons. Morning meals include classic breakfast sandwiches, Spanish tortilla empanadas and savoury brioche buns stuffed with things like artichokes, onion and emmental. Cocktails include Captain Neon’s Fresh-Caught Caesar, which features a nori-spiced rim and a kombu garnish, and the dangerously drinkable Underground Punch, a boozy blend of rum and Campari mixed with fresh citrus juice and pineapple.

A selection of breakfast sandwiches and croissants from Crossbar
Captain Neon's Fresh-Caught Caesar, a cocktail at Crossbar
The Underground Porch cocktail from Crossbar
People sit at the bar at Crossbar, a full-service cocktail bar inside Queen's Cross Food Hall
The bar at Crossbar inside the Eaton Centre

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