Food & Drink

The Thompson Hotel’s new 24-hour diner has a touch of Madeline’s

When the Thompson Hotel opens later this month on Wellington, it will not only offer the inn crowd a swanky place to sleep and be seen but also give partiers a place to steady themselves after the bars close. The Counter, a 24-hour diner, will be opening on the Bathurst side of the hotel in late June. Designed by Brenda Bent (Susur Lee’s wife) and Karen Gable, the textile experts behind Madeline’s, this new diner appears to be after the affluent hot messes of the King West bar scene.

Tony Cohen, co-partner of the Thompson Hotel, explains:

It has an upscale feel, for a diner, but the menu has all the typical comfort foods one would expect in a diner. There are the staples, some unique twists, and the menu is for everyone. Also given that it is 24 hours, it will fill a void in Toronto for late-night diners wanting a quality food experience. Aesthetically, people can expect one of the most unique dining environments in the city. They can also expect great food, great value in an exciting environment. From burgers to an all-day breakfast sandwich, great salads and Montreal smoked meat sandwiches, there is a dish for every palate.

Toronto’s other 24-hour food options—Lakeview, Fran’s—are notoriously weak, and yet the diner concept continues to dominate the after-hours market. What might make The Counter one of a kind is upmarket design and culinary prowess. Bent and Gable have given the space a look inspired by the old boxcar restaurants of times past. According to James Chatto, who got a sneak peek at the hotel, Bent has filled The Counter with “banquettes upholstered in pewter-coloured flock, dazzling blue floor tiles and a wall of porcelain figurines.”

If nothing else, The Counter is a welcome addition to a town where there just aren’t enough places to sober up.

• New York in Toronto [Jameschatto]


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