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 lives to eat. She’s known to her friends as the “Ask Alexa” for the best restaurants in cities all over North America. When she's not doing on-the-ground, scrappy PR for TouchBistro, she's a freelance food and drink writer and tells the origin stories, struggles, and successes of restaurateurs – veteran and new.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

Three picnic baskets perfect for an afternoon at the park

Three picnic baskets perfect for an afternoon at the park

Let someone else put together a gourmet lunch for your relaxing day outdoors
Posted 3 days ago
Chef Mark McEwan set to close North 44

Chef Mark McEwan set to close North 44

Midtown’s iconic North 44 restaurant, which launched the celebrated career of celebrity chef Mark McEwan, will be closing its doors later this month.
Posted 3 days ago
Egg waffles are this summer's biggest hit

Egg waffles are this summer's biggest hit

This Hong Kong export has gone from a simple childhood treat into an international Instagram trend. Here's where to get it in T.O.
Posted 7 days ago
Can two dine at T.O.’s swankiest French resto on a budget?

Can two dine at T.O.’s swankiest French resto on a budget?

Posted 1 week ago
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleEdit Module