What’s on the menu at Avling Kitchen and Brewery, Leslieville’s new brewpub with a big rooftop garden
Name: Avling Kitchen and Brewery
Contact: 1042 Queen St. E., avling.ca, @avlingto
Owner: Max Meighen (Indie Ale House, Joe Beef)
Chef: Executive chef Suzanne Barr (Saturday Dinette, Sand and Pearl) and head butcher Sam Campbell (Olliffe)
Head brewer: Brandon Judd (Godspeed)
Accessibility: Accessible entrance and washroom
Bar snacks (a burger, salt-and-vinegar spuds, charcuterie platters) and larger mains (savoury turnip cake, duck confit flatbread), all made using seasonal produce—a lot of which is coming from the brewery’s own rooftop garden—by chef Suzanne Barr and her team of 20. “The diasporic approach to cooking, for me, is very personal—much like it is for anyone who has Russian or Polish or Italian roots, but they’re cooking in Toronto,” says Barr. “Mine are deeply rooted in the West Indies and the U.K., so I want to bring that into everything I do in my kitchen.” Such influence can be seen in the Masala Fish Fry, Barr’s take on fish and chips, made using turbot from an Indigenous community in Nunavut. “I also allow my team to have some creative freedom with dishes. The burger was created by our butcher [Sam Campbell, formerly of Olliffe Butcher Shop] and my sous chef. I had no input whatsoever.”
There are four beers currently available on tap: a hoppy Belgian, an IPA and two saisons, one of which is made with Ontario lemon thyme. On deck: a pilsner, and a sour made with the pulp, skins and pits of Niagara cherries. “Our beer is a bit more subtle than some craft beer drinkers are used to—the super hoppy, boozy and fruity ones,” says Meighen. “But approachability, drinkability and balance, those are priorities for us.” Head brewer Brandon Judd incorporates at least 15 to 20 per cent of Ontario grain in every beer, and 95 per cent of the fruit, spices and bittering agents he uses come from Ontario or Quebec. Beer to-go is available from the attached retail shop.
The spacious tap room with its central bar is a real beaut. And above it, looking even prettier, is the rooftop garden where they’re growing all kinds of stuff that’s going into the food and beer being served here: kale, tomatoes, beans, zucchini, beets, chard, radishes, salad greens and, of course, oats and buckwheat. American chef Dan Barber is a big inspiration for Meighen, so some of Barber’s Row 7 Seeds can be found in the garden, too: beets, peas, squash and a couple of Habanada peppers, which are spice-free habanero peppers.
Meighen and his gardening team are also looking at ways to collect and divert the waste water from the brewery to the rooftop for irrigation purposes. And whatever bread goes unsold will go into the beer, along with other herbs being grown in the garden. “It’s really about mirroring the types of practices and sustainable farming that we not only think are important, but also make for a more delicious product,” says Meighen. “At the end of the day it tastes better if you’re farming responsibly.”