The East Ender last month near Queen and Leslie, in the old Tomi Kro space, the only promotion they did was open the doors. No ads, no flyers and no social media. Within a few days, they had a full house and had to turn people away.

">

First Look: The East Ender, Leslieville’s new spot for globally-inspired comfort food


Published:

When Greg Argent and Hieu Nguyen opened The East Ender last month near Queen and Leslie, in the old Tomi Kro space, the only promotion they did was open the doors. No ads, no flyers and no social media. Within a few days, they had a full house and had to turn people away.

As long-time business partners (their previous ventures include Cru and Forte Bistro and Lounge), Argent and Nguyen’s goal is to create a comfortable restaurant; a neighbourhood hotspot without pretention.

“We don’t do the white linen tablecloth thing here,” says Argent, who also heads up the kitchen.

The space is comfortable, with dark tones, spacious tables and open brick walls. It’s inviting, making us want to take a load off and stay a while. The menu is creative and grabs our attention with global-fusion fare, including Italian, North African and Asian-inspired dishes. 

A popular appetizer is the pork and black truffle dumplings with a citrus ponzu sauce ($11). The dumplings are stuffed with ground pork and veal, tapioca starch, ginger, Chinese rice wine, light and dark soy sauce and black truffle paste. They’re pan-fried to order, and hit with sesame seeds.

Argent gets the black truffle paste from Pasquale Bros., and, at 10 per cent truffle content, it has a much higher concentration than the typical paste. He also adds black truffle oil to give the dumplings a dramatic flavour. The dish comes with house-pickled carrots and daikon in the style typical to Vietnamese banh-mi sandwiches.

Affordability is key to The East Ender’s concept. All entrées are $20 or less. Wines by the bottle are all under $45, except for the reserve selection.

“We wanted to drive prices down, but make the menu exciting,” Argent says.

When we were there, Argent whipped up the popular chili and chocolate-braised beef short rib, with a roast garlic taro croquette ($20).    

The beef is Angus short rib, seared off and then slow braised with dark beer and bittersweet chocolate. The chili is ancho, the sweetest dried chili around, with some chipotle for extra kick. It’s all cooked until the chili and chocolate flavours are thoroughly set in the beef.

“If you say it’s going to be chocolate chili, it better be chocolate chili,” Argent says.

Argent does most of the shopping for The East Ender himself. He goes to Diana’s Seafood, telling us, “I like to pick the fish and see them and look in their eyes.”

Foie gras and game meats such as bison are sourced from La Ferme Black River, and Argent frequents the St. Lawrence Market to search for good produce. Asian ingredients come from community faves T & T Supermarket and Sanko.

“Our philosophy,” Argents says about the menu, “is to under-promise and over deliver.”

The East Ender is currently open for dinner, but this Mother’s Day, it’ll open for brunch (and long-term plans for a regular brunch menu are in the works, too).

The East Ender, 1212 Queen Street East, 647-346-3278

Edit Module

Follow us on Twitter @PostCity for more on what to eat, where to shop and what to do in Toronto.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

You may also like...

Restaurant Review: The upscale Greek at Mamakas wows the palate off our critic

Restaurant Review: The upscale Greek at Mamakas wows the palate off our critic

Mamakas is a bit atypical for the Ossington strip. The food is modernized trad Greek, and it’s very fine, more Byblos than Danforth.
Posted 24 hours ago
Restaurant Update: Shameful Tiki Room, Kiu, Loka coming, Awestruck today and Rock Lobster Leslieville for sale

Restaurant Update: Shameful Tiki Room, Kiu, Loka coming, Awestruck today and Rock Lobster Leslieville for sale

Considering it's the last full week of August, there was plenty of restaurant news in Toronto to digest. We found out that we'll be getting a little more Loka, tiki and Japanese this year and possibly a little less Rock Lobster. As well, Toronto is ankle-deep in cold pressed juice. See below for details on an ideal way to cap off the summer: by heading to Mississauga for some of the area's best food trucks.
Posted 3 days ago
On route to Toronto Diner en Blanc lost its way

On route to Toronto Diner en Blanc lost its way

Diner en Blanc popped up in Toronto last night. Now in its fifth year, the annual white party was bigger than ever with a reported 2,300 people in attendance.
Posted 4 days ago
Kiu, a restaurant from the owners of Ramen Isshin, to open in Markham this fall

Kiu, a restaurant from the owners of Ramen Isshin, to open in Markham this fall

Downtown Markham is getting a new 140-seat restaurant this October. Kiu, which means “joyous rain”, is a spinoff of the well-loved Cabbagetown izakaya Kingyo and is the latest venture by Koji Zenimaru and Jason Matsubara of Ramen Isshin.
Posted 4 days ago
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleEdit Module