(Image: Karolyne Ellacott)
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.
101350 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) Butter chicken with pappadum, mango chutney, chili chickpeas, coconut basmati rice, raita and a coconut raisin and pistachio mix ($21) Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-butter-chicken-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-butter-chicken.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-butter-chicken.jpg 624 468  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-butter-chicken/ playpen-butter-chicken 0 0
Butter chicken with pappadum, mango chutney, chili chickpeas, coconut basmati rice, raita and a coconut raisin and pistachio mix ($21)
101361 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) Japanese steak tartare with tempura egg yolk ($10) Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-tartar-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-tartar.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-tartar.jpg 624 491  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-tartar/ playpen-tartar 0 0
Japanese steak tartare with tempura egg yolk ($10)
101351 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) Filet of beef with feta-scalloped potato and gorgonzola jus ($24) Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-filet-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-filet.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-filet.jpg 624 461  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-filet/ playpen-filet 0 0
Filet of beef with feta-scalloped potato and gorgonzola jus ($24)
101352 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) Lobster roll with chili mayo, cilantro and frites ($12) Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-lobster-roll-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-lobster-roll.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-lobster-roll.jpg 624 513  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-lobster-roll/ playpen-lobster-roll 0 0
Lobster roll with chili mayo, cilantro and frites ($12)
101353 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-lounge-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-lounge.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-lounge.jpg 468 624  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-lounge/ playpen-lounge 0 0
101355 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) Bright, colourful wall panels cover the windows in the lounge area Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-panels-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-panels.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-panels.jpg 624 468  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-panels/ playpen-panels 0 0
Bright, colourful wall panels cover the windows in the lounge area
101356 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-photo-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-photo.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-photo.jpg 656 506  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-photo/ playpen-photo 0 0
101357 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) The art is provided by server–cum–fashion photographer Kyriakos Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-photos-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-photos.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-photos.jpg 624 461  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-photos/ playpen-photos 0 0
The art is provided by server–cum–fashion photographer Kyriakos
101359 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-table-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-table.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-table.jpg 624 468  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-table/ playpen-table 0 0
101360 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) The lounge side of the operation Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-tables-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-tables.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-tables.jpg 624 468  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-tables/ playpen-tables 0 0
The lounge side of the operation
101362 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) Looking out at the street Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-window-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-window.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-window.jpg 624 468  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-window/ playpen-window 0 0
Looking out at the street
101354 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) Outside the new resto-lounge Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-outside-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-outside.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-outside.jpg 624 468  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-outside/ playpen-outside 0 0
Outside the new resto-lounge
101358 (Image: Karolyne Ellacott) The Playpen sits in a plaza at Gerrard and Carlaw Introducing: The Playpen https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-sign-96x96.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-sign.jpg https://torontolife.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/playpen-sign.jpg 624 468  https://torontolife.com/food/introducing-the-playpen/slide/playpen-sign/ playpen-sign 0 0
The Playpen sits in a plaza at Gerrard and Carlaw
The Playpen, 842 Gerrard St. E., 416-907-9761
26 thoughts on “Introducing: The Playpen, the colourful new Riverdale resto-lounge”
this place looks horrid. food and decor. TL should already be putting this place on deathwatch.
I love the haphazardly “chopped” chive garnishes. Nice touch.
Looks like “the chef LP” does not know which end of the knife is which. How does one get the title chef?? What are her credentials?
i like pop from cans! much fresher and still properly carbonated….better than that flat pop gun stuff….
Had a delightful evening at this new restaurant with my friends who also enjoyed themselves.
It was nice to see many familiar faces and servers from Tomi Crow serving on the floor and in the lounge.
The food was excellent as always and the service excellent as well. A nice variety with good portions. The decor was very warm and retro; I have always felt welcome and enjoyed eating at JK’s restaurants over the years. Once again a great vibe and a great place to relax and enjoy good company and great cuisine. And the location close to the Danforth and Riverdale is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.
After our meal we enjoyed a wonderful glass of wine as Lauren our server made us feel at home.
Cant wait to go back.
Johnny…so good to see you again, glad we came up from Miami.
What a place…great food, great service and always a neat touch. See you @ “The Derby Party” next year.
Best to you and Laura!
Cool decor… retro and modern all at the same time. Love the cozy lounge! The food was top notch. Think I’ll book my Christmas party!
Bad decor, and the colours and style (FB) is ripped off from Piet Mondrian which was actually made in the 30’s not the 70’s. Bad furniture and art – mish-mash. Food so-so. Tim.
We had a fantastic dinner opening weekend and have reservations again this weekend.
Agree the parking lot leaves much to be desired but once inside, you are in another world.
Our experience was amazing in every way, the decor, the service, and the food- amazing and a good value too.
Did I mention the lounge and cocktails? Relaxing and we immediately we felt that we were welcomed and would want to come back.
Maybe even for a weekday cocktail!
And we walked to the restaurant!
We wanted to LOVE this place because it’s just around the corner, but on first visit we are luke warm. Decor needs to work harder to forget that you’re next to No Frills. Window treatments would be nice so you’re not forced to look at that yellow sign all night. Lounge looks like the furniture came directly from Coffee Time. Food is good, but dishes that appeared were not as described on menu. Music and lighting were good. We do intend to give this place another try and really hope they pull it into gear.
I have been a regular of Tomi Kro for years . The Playpen is a “breath of fresh air”. The superb menu, offers a great variety. The food, as it was at Tomi Kro, is delicious. The ambiance is great. The lounge, adjacent to the dining room offers a relaxing atmosphere to start the evening. Most enjoyable! I have entertained many business clients in the past at Tomi Kro and now The Playpen. The consensus has been consistent. They loved the food!! PJO
Bad decor distracts from the good food. Needs banquets in the lounge and something to block the view of the parking lot from the dining room. Red wines by the glass are unimpressive. Need to change up pinot noir as the premium offering, it was awful. There are many places in the area to spend your money on good food & wine. I’ll be waiting do so here again until they can get it right.
Bad decor distracts from the good food. Needs banquets in the lounge and something to block the view of the parking lot from the dining room. Red wines by the glass are unimpressive. Need to change up pinot noir as the premium offering, it was awful. There are many places in the area to spend your money on good food & wine. I’ll be waiting to do so here again until they can get it right.
I am really disappointed with the fact that Laura Prentice is being called a chef. The food is lousy , and lacks creativity and obviously the are living in the past going on about 30 years of their bad food skills. Do something about that terrible music and sound system. That crappy carpet is not the only thing from the 70s , bartender must be from a failed 70s punk band. PS stop breathing on the bar patrons.
Can’t say one negative thing. Yes you drive up and think you are at the wrong place but once inside you don’t notice where you are. The food was delicious, too many choices which means I will have to go back. Also had great service and it was reasonably priced. Everyone must try this restaurant
i have been in from New York, and i have followed Laura and Johnny K for years and their new place The Playpen is as always with these two ahead of their time… it’s a fun place with fantastik food and great music and an amazing lounge where we can “get down on it”….toronto needs to wake up.
DID ANYONE READ THE STAR REVIEW.
By the way… “kenny lon” forgot to mention he was a waiter that just got fired from this restaurant for theft.
Lying douche-bag. Get a life…
bi-joe I WOULD NOT WORK THERE IF YOU ASKED. SO I AM A WAITER. I DO NOT THINK SO OBVIOUSLY YOU ARE. AND YOU FABRICATE THINGS TO MAKE IT LOOK LIKE A BAD REVIEW IS A DISGRUNTLED WAITER. HOW RICH. WHAT MONEY WOULD SOMEONE STEAL FROM AN EMPTY PLACE? THE GLASS BOTTLES?
Our congradulations to Johnny K and Laura Prentice for the high quality dining standards and the wonderful 60’s ambiance at their new endeavour of the PLAYPEN restaurant. The menu is very diversified with an excellent selection of unusual appetizers, delicious entrees and decadent desserts. Our meals were amazingly delicious and the services were outstanding. There is no doubt that we will continue to return to enjoy a wonderful dining experience at the restaurant.
HEY JOE IS THIS PLACE EVEN OPEN. THEY ADVERTISE BRUNCH. NO BRUNCH THEY SAY THEY ARE OPEN LATE. THE KITCHEN CLOSES AT 10 ISH?? THAT’S NOT REALLY A TIME. BEING IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD PEOPLE TALK AND ITS NOT GOOD. STILL THINK I AM A EX-WAITER OR JUST SOMEONE WITH OPEN EYES. YOU SHOULD CONVERT THIS PLACE INTO A DAYCARE.
Really tired of having my neighbourhood called Riverdale – this restaurant is in Leslieville. I look forward to trying this new Leslieville restaurant.
God bless Obama.
have always loved Johnny and Laura’s restaurants, does anyone know if they are opening a new place ?
Comments are closed.