What’s on the menu at Astoria, a new French-American bistro inside the Great Hall
It replaces Otto’s Bierhalle
Contact: 1087 Queen St. W., 416-538-9090, astoriagreathall.com, @astoriagreathall
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Previously: Otto’s Bierhalle
Owners: Adrian Montes de Oca (Milou), Rob Dyer and Spencer McMahon
Chef: Shivam Munjal (Bar Poet)
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
When Adrian Montes de Oca, Rob Dyer and Spencer McMahaon took over the former Otto’s Bierhalle space on Queen West, they wanted to create a concept that celebrated the building’s historical roots. The restaurant is on the main floor of the Great Hall, which was originally built in 1889 as a meeting space for the Toronto West End YMCA.
“We had a strong vision,” says Montes de Oca, who partnered with Dyer and McMahon of Bar Poet, which is located right across the street, for the project. “We came together to create a space we felt belonged in the Great Hall.” This meant stripping back the minimalist makeover the restaurant had been given during its time as Otto’s. “It was about working with its age, working with its history and enhancing it,” says Montes de Oca.
The inspiration for Astoria’s soul-warming cuisine came from a desire to echo the building’s timeless aesthetic. “The place feels nostalgic, and we wanted the food to match that,” says Montes de Oca. “We weren’t trying to reinvent the wheel—just revisit the idea of a historic place with classic food and do it well.”
Astoria’s self-described “French-American bistro” fare leans heavily on French staples with occasional comfort-food influence from other cuisines. “We stayed away from reinterpreting dishes or making them current,” says Montes de Oca. “They’re all classic dishes.”
The cocktail menu stays grounded in the familiar while introducing a few subtle twists to the usual standards. Wines are primarily easy-drinking French bottles that play well with the menu’s hearty bistro fare. There’s also a well-stocked back bar with a wide selection of tequila and whiskey, plus $10 martini Happy Hours every day of the week.
The team’s transformation of Astoria’s interior was about uncovering its remarkable original features. Drywall was torn down to reveal original wallpaper, and the whitewash paint was stripped from the walls and ceiling to unveil their historic details.