What’s on the menu at And/Ore, a whimsical new Queen West restaurant with a cave
Including all kinds of champagne by the glass and a cotton candy cocktail
Contact: 1040 Queen St. W., 416-536-1040, andorerestaurant.com, @andorerestaurant
Neighbourhood: West Queen West
Owners: Jaimie Donovan, Kailey DeRubeis, Missy Hui and Abby Rubiales
Chef: Missy Hui (Fabbrica)
Accessibility: Fully accessible
Jaimie Donovan, an Australian expat and former mining engineer, decided during the pandemic that she wanted to leave her career to open her ideal restaurant. Her needs were simple: otherworldly ambiance, incredible food, champagne by the glass and—obviously—a cave. So, in 2022, she bought a building and put together a team of talented women, and off she went.
Donovan wanted her first foray into the restaurant industry to hit Toronto’s culinary landscape not with a whimper but with a bang. And she seems to have accomplished that with And/Ore. Features of the sprawling three-storey restaurant on Queen West include a velvet-draped, big top–inspired mezzanine; a hand-cut steel trellis that encloses the main dining “garden”; and a cellar designed to look and feel like an honest-to-goodness cave.
While Donovan’s aim is to take diners outside of Toronto the moment they walk through And/Ore’s door, the magic is not meant to spellbind customers into paying high prices for food that’s an afterthought. In order to make her dream come true, Donovan recruited a team of women entrepreneurs, including former Fabbrica chef Missy Hui and former Drake 150 general manager Kailey DeRubeis. “We were all struck by how passionate Jaimie was, and we loved her vision,” says DeRubeis.
Hui has developed two distinct seasonal menus: a playful small-plates list for the main and upper levels and a mystery tasting menu ($150) for the cave diners. While she won’t say what’s on the tasting menu (it’s called a mystery menu for a reason), the upstairs card offers an array of interesting snacks. Think tiny tea sandwiches made with Wonder Bread (yes, Wonder Bread) and stuffed with deep-fried oyster mushrooms and Bull-Dog sauce. Or a cheese course that incorporates mozzarella, gochujang and house-fermented kimchi.
There’s a lengthy champagne list (half of which is available by the glass or flight) as well as a Grape Witches–designed selection of mostly natural wines (each available by the glass or bottle). As for the cocktails, Rubiales has created a card of slightly tweaked classics. Most notable is her take on the cosmo, a blend of white cranberry juice, Toronto’s own Laneway vodka and calamansi.
Three cohesively designed yet different spaces take up And/Ore’s 4,000 square feet. On the main floor, there’s a floor-to-ceiling forest mural (hand-painted by Tisha Myles and Jack Phelps), lush velvet fabrics and purple-tinted windows that wash the room in indigo light. The effect lands diners somewhere between Wonderland and the inside of a rococo painting. Upstairs in the Baz Luhrmann–y mezzanine, high-top tables set before a wall of painted clouds are covered by a velvet-tented ceiling and surrounded by velvet curtains. Finally, an elevator brings guests underground, where they’ll find a hand-poured concrete cave glittering with golden elements, like a metallic bar, gilded tableware and flickering table lamps.