Introducing: Weslodge, the new King West “modern saloon” from Charles Khabouth and Hanif Harji
For the second time this year that Yorkville has descended upon King West, first with Gusto 101 (from Trattoria Nervosa’s Janet Zuccarini), and now with Weslodge, the newest project by Ink Entertainment’s Charles Khabouth (La Société, Cube) and Hanif Harji (ex-Kultura, Nyood). Dubbed a “modern saloon,” Weslodge is the sort of place where pomaded bartenders don leather gun holsters around their shoulders (without packing any actual heat, of course), and hunting trophies (or simulacra thereof) are mounted above the bar and throughout the space.
The eye-catching room was designed by Alessandro Munge (Munge Leung), and features dark walls, rich tufted banquettes, classic spindle chairs and traditional saloon cabinetry. Upstairs, the hallway is filled with old photos, newspaper clippings, a butcher’s diagram of a cow and even a portrait of a turtle. Outside, a pair of bright yellow doors on King West make it pretty much impossible to miss the bar as you pass by. In the kitchen, executive chef Stuart Cameron (Kultura, Nyood) and chef de cuisine Kanida Chey (Kultura, Flow, Origin) bring some style and a lot more technique than usual to the modern American menu. To start, there’s a scotch egg made with homemade chorizo ($4), buffalo tartare with pickled mustard seed, egg and foie gras on sour dough ($15) and fluke ceviche with yuzu, radish and dill oil, with a puffed crispy tapioca chip ($12). For mains, there’s fried bourbon Cornish hen ($21), the Weslodge burger ($18) and a dry-aged rib eye sided with bone marrow ($32).
At the bar, director of cocktails Elan Marks (Kultura, Nyood, Drake) creates both classic, throwback cocktails and more creative drinks that are mainly whiskey-based. Prices range from a gin with house-made tonic ($9) on the lower end to barrel-aged negroni ($14 glass, $120 bottle) and a tobacco Manhattan ($17) made with Basil Hayden bourbon and, yes, a house tobacco tincture. Instead of traditional bottle service, Weslodge is selling cocktails that are aged in American oak casks, bottled, tagged and served on a tray with antique glasses, a bucket of perfectly clear two-inch ice cubes (ice geeks take note) and other garnishes like boozy cherries, for $120 to $175 depending on the cocktail.
Weslodge will be open daily for lunch (except Saturdays) and dinner, and will offer a Sunday brunch menu. Next up for Khabouth and Harji is Patria, Weslodge’s Spanish next-door neighbour complete with courtyard patio, slated to open in five weeks. Then, the pair will focus on Storys, which opens after TIFF, which will offer a private event space, a restaurant, a rooftop lounge and a bar that they’re hyping as the city’s best new place for cocktails.