Go west: The Saint brings some King Street style to the Ossington strip
For the past two years, trendspotters’ eyes have been fixed on the Ossington Avenue strip. And now the ’hood is getting a fresh infusion of talent from the downtown core. The boys behind King West bistro Brassaii are opening The Saint, a new gastro-pub at 227 Ossington, in mid-April. The forecast feel? Swank style meets community comfort—that is, if the community embraces it.
The project is the brainchild of Brassaii’s garrulous bar manager, Adam Graham, who is teaming up with restaurant booster Giancarlo Spataro (of Jacobs & Co.) as the operating partners of the new digs. Also on board are Brassaii owners Gus Giazitzidis and Peter Tsebelis, as well as designer Marc Kyriacou and former Kontent magnate Michael King. The talent-heavy team is looking to replicate the ethos of the King Street project, only with a new theme: while Brassaii is a traditional French bistro with cutting-edge design, The Saint will be a traditional British pub with cutting-edge design.
Elements of The Saint’s look will include reclaimed wood, marble bar tops and sumptuous oxblood banquettes. But Graham promises that there will still be a down-to-earth feel. “It will be a place where you can watch the hockey game,” he says. The mix-and-match ambience goes for dress code, too: “You can come in flip-flops and shorts and read the paper, or straight from work on Bay Street in a suit. And you won’t be under- or overdressed in either case.”
In sticking to the “keep it simple” mantra, the menu will feature such comfort foods as fish and chips and mac-and-cheese. Graham notes, though, that this won’t be pub food per se, rather “classic fare taken seriously.” The Saint will also support local businesses, offering microbrews and conscientious ingredient sourcing. Music will be an integral part of the vibe. Graham assures us that the relaxed space won’t become a club scene after dinner, but he does hope to make it a late-night destination: “Come ten o’clock, it will be a place to stay until the end of the night.”
This may sound like good news to locals waiting in long lines at The Ossington and Baby Huey—but maybe not. A backlash has started against new places opening in the neighbourhood. The Save Ossington campaign—a tongue-in-cheek art project–protest movement seeking to defend the area against homogenization—will surely be keeping an eye on The Saint to make sure that it fits into the scene. “If you pay homage to the area, and add something, it’s not saturation,” says an unfazed Graham. “And we’re not going to be serving any $10 pints,” he adds, noting that he plans to play up customer service by hiring knowledgeable staff. With an eye for the details that make an it spot feel like home, Graham is confident the formula will work: “It’s gonna be a fun, rockin’ place with good food.”