Introducing: Duke’s Refresher, a rowdy new restaurant, bar and brunch spot in the Aura condos at Yonge and Gerrard
Name: Duke’s Refresher + Bar
Contact Info: 382 Yonge St., 416-979-8529, dukesrefresher.ca, @DukesRefresher
Neighbourhood: Downtown Core
Owner: Peter Fowler, CEO of restaurant super-power SIR Corp, the company that owns Jack Astor’s, Alice Fazoolis, Loose Moose, Canyon Creek, Far Niente, Reds Wine Tavern, Reds Midtown, Scaddabush and Four
Chef: Tim Tutton
The Place: Duke’s Refresher, which launched first in Muskoka, is one of three SIR Corp restaurants housed in the new Aura condos at Yonge and Gerrard—the others being Reds Midtown and the soon-to-open Scaddabush. All three restaurants are big and casual, and outfitted with farmhouse-style furniture and vintage tchotchkes (e.g. road signs, decorative antlers, a display of antique Zippo lighters). While the slightly sleeker Reds is geared to suit-clad power-lunchers, Duke’s caters to their younger, rowdier siblings. There’s a long bar, an upstairs party zone called the Nosebleed Lounge and a wall of shame for drinkers who show up for next-day brunch with the bar’s logo stamped on their foreheads.
The Food: Bar snacks, sandwiches and jumbo beef brisket burgers, which are cooked on a flattop. Hangover-friendly brunches range from breakfast tostadas to teetering stacks of waffles topped with blueberry whipped cream.
The Drinks: 40 domestic, craft and premium beers, four signature cocktails, a trio of Caesars and one boozy brunchtime milkshake called The Wrecking Ball. For $20, customers can join the Einstein Club, which nets them discounts on beer and a personalized beer stein to use on each visit.
• 166 24-ounce beer steins behind the bar—one for each Einstein Club membership
• 158 seats divided between two floors: the main floor and the “Nosebleed Lounge”
• 50 per cent discount (and a spot on the wall of shame) for partyers who show up for brunch with the bar’s logo stamped on their foreheads
• 40 beers on tap, including 17 craft brews