Introducing: Linwood Essentials, the stylish new speakeasy near Trinity Bellwoods

Introducing: Linwood Essentials, the stylish new speakeasy near Trinity Bellwoods

(Image: Jackie Pal)

Name: Linwood Essentials
Contact Info: 930 Queen St W.,, @Linwood_TO
Previously: Yours Truly spin-off A-OK Foods
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Owner: Jake Valianes
Chef: Ryan Law, who staged at famous Spanish restaurants Tapas 24 and Arzac

The Drinks: Linwood Essentials is run by cocktail enthusiast Jake Valianes, a former bartender who spent a year traveling and tasting cocktails before turning his research into a business. His cocktail menu lists 24 drinks, some of which are rather unusual—a cocktail called “Lunch,” for instance, blends cream cheese infused Amaro with whiskey and black garlic bitters, while the “Artisanal Middle Finger” includes both green chartreuse and a syrup made out of super-concentrated PBR (it’s served in a mason jar and garnished with an orange-rind mustache and a pair of knock-off Ray Bans). Experimental syrups abound, including a particularly mysterious one called “Indian takeout.”

The Food: Chef Ryan Law draws much of his menu inspiration from Spanish tapas. This isn’t traditional European cuisine by any means, though. Law’s deep-fried potato bombas are designed to replicate the flavour profile of a fast-food cheeseburger, and his super-rich foie gras risotto comes topped with shredded duck and maple-glazed popcorn.

The Place: A-OK’s punchy teal picnic benches and shingled walls have been replaced with sleek leather banquettes and mod chandeliers. A few decorative details speak to the Prohibition theme, like the old-fashioned library lamps lining the bar and the marquee-style signage spelling out the word “repeal”—a reference to the end of Prohibition in 1933.