First Look: Jen Agg moves into Kensington with Grey Gardens


Published:

Image: Yvonne Tsui

Jen Agg, the well-known restaurateur who won Toronto diners over with the Black Hoof, has added Grey Gardens in Kensington Market to her restaurant empire. 

While she says the name is “a hat-tip to a wonderfully kooky movie,” it’s not exactly why she chose it for the restaurant. “Naming restaurants is really challenging and I always choose names that express what we do - it’s evocative,” says Agg. 

Agg is known for creating restaurants with contrast. “I didn’t want to design a room that’s stuffy," she says while describing the interior as a “collision of sleek and beautiful, mod design with something softer and shabbier.” 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

For example, the stucco walls add a somewhat decaying look to contrast the tailored and sleek banquettes. Though contrasts are definitely at the forefront of the restaurant’s interior, every detail also has a practical aspect to it. The stucco serves to dampen sound, the brass trim protects the glass of an otherwise weathered window and everything comes together like it was meant to be there. The space has three sections – the wine bar, the kitchen counter and the dining room, each of which would be suitable depending on what kind of night you want to have. 

The wine bar opens an hour earlier and closes two hours later than the rest of the restaurant.  


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

Wine is definitely the focus of the beverage program at Grey Gardens, mostly a private-order list with many that are organic and biodynamic. The list is laid out both by flavor profile and weight and the selections are largely chosen to be food-friendly; whites with texture and lighter to medium reds. There’s also a focus on cider – “we like to drink it and it works with food,” says general manager and sommelier Jake Skakun. 

The food menu is divided by size from snacks to large dishes and a section dedicated to pasta, labeled “noodles.” In the kitchen, Agg has partnered with chef and co-owner Mitchell Bates (formerly of Momofuku Shoto). The staff is like a “Brady Brunch blended family of Mitch’s crew and mine,” says Agg. 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

When asked what his approach to the menu was, Bates states “food I think tastes good, is easy to eat, and easy to drink wine with.”  

Grey Gardens, 199 Augusta Ave., 647-351-1552


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

Edit Module

Join the conversation and have your say by commenting below. Our comment system uses a Facebook plugin. Please note that you'll have to turn off some ad-blockers in order to see the comments.

Edit Module

Yvonne is a freelance food and drink writer and the Director of Brand Experience at U-Feast, which curates unique, off-menu dining experiences.  Always in search of delicious. Decor and service be damned, food is king. Follow her @life_of_y and @u_feast.  Warning: don't look at her "feed" if you're hungry.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

Eat this Minute: Chicago-style pizza from Double D’s

Eat this Minute: Chicago-style pizza from Double D’s

Ever since opening Double D’s in early 2017, Yaworski’s Chicago-style deep-dish pizza has been the hot ticket item in the city, with oh-so-eager locals breathing down his neck to get a piece of the pie.
Posted 16 hours ago
Treating canine pain with medical cannabis

Treating canine pain with medical cannabis

Like Ralph’s mom, pet owners throughout the city are turning to both hemp- and cannabis-derived CBD oils to help ease the health symptoms of their loved ones.
Posted 6 days ago
Powerhouse restaurateur Janet Zuccarini dishes on T.O. food scene

Powerhouse restaurateur Janet Zuccarini dishes on T.O. food scene

Since opening Trattoria Nervosa in 1996, Zuccarini has refused to let her Yorkville stalwart go stale.
Posted 1 week ago
Scruffy Murphy’s, Midtown’s Irish watering hole relocates after 20 years

Scruffy Murphy’s, Midtown’s Irish watering hole relocates after 20 years

Scruffy Murphy’s may have just opened its new location at Eglinton Avenue West and Redpath Avenue, but the traditional Irish pub has been a popular watering hole for locals for more than 20 years.
Posted 2 weeks ago
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit Module