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Food & Drink

What’s on the menu at the Dorset, O&B’s new British bar and restaurant inside the Well

Including a full English breakfast and fish and chips

By Helen Jacob| Photography by Jelena Subotic
A chef plates dishes behind the kitchen pass at the Dorset, a British restaurant in Toronto

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Name: The Dorset Contact: 457 Wellington St. W., thedorsetwellington.com, @thedorset.to
Neighbourhood: Wellington Place Owners: Oliver and Bonacini Chefs: Executive chef Ryan Lister (The Rabbit Hole, Liberty Commons), chef de cuisine Rob Ratcliffe (Lucknam Park), pastry chef Alessandra Bustamante (Alo) Accessibility: Fully accessible

O&B’s third and final project inside the Well is the Dorset, a bar and restaurant that aims to bring a taste of the English countryside to Toronto. Two separate dining areas—one upstairs, one down—come with their own distinct menus: the main-floor bar menu offers familiar but elevated takes on pub classics (fish and chips, Scotch eggs) while the more formal second-floor dining room provides a slightly more upscale experience.

The Dorset's chef de cuisine Rob Ratcliffe, pastry chef Alessandra Bustamante and executive chef Ryan Lister
From left: chef de cuisine Rob Ratcliffe, pastry chef Alessandra Bustamante and executive chef Ryan Lister
The food

The main-floor bar serves an all-day menu of elevated takes on English classics, like cottage pie, Cornish pasties, pork croquettes and a traditional Sunday roast complete with veg, mashed potatoes and Yorkshire pudding. Meanwhile, upstairs (open for dinner at 5 p.m.), diners can order dishes like the king salmon with Ikura caviar sauce and the decadent pea-and-lobster velouté. Ratcliffe and Lister collaborated on the menu, each taking inspiration from their time growing up on the coast of England. Even the dinnerware is from across the pond, specifically English brand Denby Pottery. “My parents still have Denby in the house—it just reminds me of home,” says Lister, referring to his Dorset roots. For afters, there’s trifle and all the pudding hits, including a sharable sticky toffee. Coming soon: a seasonal multi-course tasting menu for $140 per person.

The Dorset’s version of a full English breakfast includes a pork banger, some grilled applewood-smoked bacon, baked beans cooked with tomato and black treacle, a marinated portabella mushroom, a slow-roasted tomato dressed with herbs and garlic, house-made black pudding and a choice of eggs
The Dorset’s version of a full English breakfast is available all day at the bar. It includes a pork banger, some grilled applewood-smoked bacon, baked beans cooked with tomato and black treacle, a marinated portobello mushroom, a slow-roasted tomato dressed with herbs and garlic, house-made black pudding and a choice of eggs. Both Lister and Ratcliffe grew up eating fried bread, so the slice served with this meal is grilled, then deep-fried. $24

 

An order of fish and chips at The Dorset in Toronto
The hake in the hake and chips is floured, dunked in a Brickworks cider batter and deep-fried. A popular fish in Lister’s hometown of Weymouth, hake falls somewhere between cod and haddock in terms of texture. The triple-cooked chips are a labour of love—but totally worth the two hours they take to make. On the side: traditional tartar sauce, mushy peas and a fenugreek-forward curry sauce. $28

 

Tuna tartare and prawn crackers
The tuna tartare sits in a white soy ponzu and makrut lime oil blend along with jalapeños and diced cucumber. It’s served with sesame prawn crackers. $28

 

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A jumbo Boston scallop is pan seared then finished in brown butter and a little lemon juice
A jumbo Boston scallop is pan-seared and finished in brown butter and a little lemon juice. It’s sliced and set on a celery purée with some charred cabbage seasoned with honey-apple vinegar. A dry-cider cream and cucumber sauce goes on top, and it’s garnished with a piece of fried dinosaur kale. $24

 

A cornish hen croquette and meatball
Lister grew up eating Cornish game hen Kiev—a Cornish game hen breast stuffed with charred spring onion butter and cauliflower purée, then fried until golden brown. The Dorset’s version is basically the same, but the cauliflower purée is beneath the croquette, not inside it. It’s accompanied by a meatball made with confit hen legs, seasoned with herbs and mustard, and stewed in a Madeira jus. $38

 

The pea and lobster velouté and crab toastie is an upgraded soup-and-sandwich combo at the Dorset in Toronto
The pea-and-lobster velouté and crab toastie is an upgraded soup-and-sandwich combo. It comes with a coddled hen’s egg, cooked in a ramekin surrounded by a water bath, along with asparagus. A jar of the velouté (blended with peas, potato and lobster stock) is poured into the bowl for a rich but fresh accompaniment to the crab toastie, which is made with béchamel, crab meat, lobster reduction and chives. There’s no cream in the velouté and no cheese in the toastie—but you would never know. $22

 

This light but satisfying portion of Lingcod at The Dorset comes with smoked mussels, leeks, baby turnips and an herbed mousse
This light but satisfying portion of lingcod comes with smoked mussels, leeks, baby turnips and an herbed mousse. The Dorset switches out the typical white wine in the cream sauce for cider, so there’s an appley sweetness that pairs nicely with the baby turnip’s horseradish notes. $39

 

The orange creamsicle–like Solero is based on Ratcliffe’s favourite childhood ice cream of the same name
The Solero is based on Ratcliffe’s favourite childhood ice cream of the same name. A semifreddo is dipped in zéphyr white chocolate and crowned with Italian meringue to mimic the nostalgic vanilla flavour of the OG Solero (which is kind of like an orange creamsicle). It gets a dusting of dehydrated black lime and a dollop of mango-passionfruit currant in the middle. $14

 

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Strawberry trifle spongecake at The Dorset in Toronto
This freestanding strawberry trifle includes three layers of sponge soaked in Bristol Cream Sherry, two layers of custard, a layer of strawberry-cranberry custard in the middle and strawberry jelly on top. It’s finished with a ribbon of strawberry Chantilly cream and garnished with fresh berries and mint. $14

 

A slice of classic treacle tart is served with a banoffee milk sauce and a quenelle of clotted cream made with 45-per-cent cream from Sheldon Creek Dairy
A slice of classic treacle tart is served with a banoffee milk sauce and a quenelle of clotted cream made with 45 per cent cream from Sheldon Creek Dairy. $14

 

The drinks

The beverage menu includes a selection of craft beers, new- and old-world wines, no- and low-alcohol options, and a list of signature cocktails, like the James Bond–inspired Skyfall and a floral concoction named Lily Collins. Bar manager Eric Carter is moving toward making drinks that are complex on the back end but simple to execute, like the Dorset Martini, made with fortified wine and bergamot. Hot tip: cocktails are 50 per cent off during happy hour, which runs every day from 5 to 7 p.m.

A bartender pours a cocktail into an old-fashioned glass at The Dorset, a British bar in Toronto
The Solitaire is a spirit-forward drink made with Jim Beam bourbon, Kahlúa, Angostura bitters, cacao bitters and maple-spiced syrup
The Solitaire is a spirit-forward drink made with Jim Beam bourbon, Kahlúa, Angostura bitters, cacao bitters and maple-spiced syrup. It’s then smoked and covered with a Tarot card. $17

 

For the silky Skyfall, Sauza tequila, Los Siete Misterios mezcal, Havana Club Reserva rum, lime, cola syrup and honey are made in large batches, with the addition of milk
For the silky Skyfall, Sauza tequila, Los Siete Misterios mezcal, Havana Club Reserva rum, lime, cola syrup and honey are made in large batches—then in goes the milk, which curdles, pulling impurities out of the cocktail and clarifying it. It’s then strained and poured over ice. A touch of edible shimmer gives this hibiscus-hued drink a subtle twinkle. $19

 

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The sweet and refreshing Dorchester Pimm’s is a mix of Dillon’s Selby gin, Pimm’s, lemon, ginger ale, and a lavender-thyme syrup
The sweet and refreshing Dorchester Pimm’s is a mix of Dillon’s Selby gin, Pimm’s, lemon, ginger ale and lavender-thyme syrup. $17

 

The space

The restaurant’s various dining rooms are accented with details that pay tribute to both the British seaside (coastal blues, an all-season terrace named for a Dorset beach) and countryside (walnut woodwork, a mural of a reimagined 17th-century fox hunt). A private dining room dubbed the Durdle (named for a limestone arch on England’s Jurassic Coast) can accommodate up to 40 guests, and the street-level patio is perfect for people-watching.

The Bar at The Dorset, a British pub and restaurant in Toronto
The dining room of the Dorset, Oliver and Bonacini's new British pub and restaurant
The moody, dark-red dining room at The Dorset
The dining room at the Dorset is decorated with red banquettes and floral wallpaper
The dining room at The Dorset is lined with framed art and photography
The Chesil room on the second floor of The Dorset, named after Chesil Beach in England, can be booked out for private dining and has an indoor-outdoor feel
The terrace room at The Dorset
Inside the Dorset, a British pub and restaurant in Toronto
A hallway leading downstairs is lined with framed paintings
A framed painting of a cat

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