Just Opened: Ruby Watchco, Lynn Crawford’s much-anticipated restaurant
After years of manning other people’s kitchens (the Manhattan Four Seasons), reinventing other people’s restaurants (Restaurant Makeover) and Pitchin’ In on other people’s farms, Lynn Crawford finally has a restaurant she can call her own. The venerable chef has opened Ruby Watchco in Riverdale, in the old Citizen space, with TV colleague (and Yabu Pushelberg designer) Cherie Stinson and her husband Joey Skeir as partners, and Four Seasons protégé Lora Kirk as the co–executive chef. The doors of the Queen East boîte opened last Tuesday, and it’s already booked solid.
Given Crawford’s larger-than-life (or at least larger-than-Riverdale) persona, it would be easy to expect her to hog the spotlight, but she’s instead turning the attention to her ingredients, filling the menu with all things local in order to showcase Ontario’s farmers, growers and producers; as Crawford puts it, “They’re the real stars here.”
That may be so, but opening the back kitchen into the dining room doesn’t exactly downplay the chef’s role. Envisioning the dimly lit, autumn-toned dining room as an extension of their own homes, Crawford and crew roll out a brand new $49 fixed menu every day of the week. Much like at a dinner party, everyone eats and experiences the same thing—appetizer, entrée, cheese course and dessert—at the same time. Whether that means braised beef short ribs “bourguignon style” with Thompson Farms’ yukon potato purée or osso buco with parmesan herb risotto, it’s all designed to emphasize the ingredient more than the cook. Still, it takes a trusted chef to handle a fixed menu concept. Can she keep it up? The watch is ticking.
Ruby Watchco, 730 Queen St. E., 416-465-0100, rubywatchco.ca.