First Look: The Civic is the showpiece restaurant inside the Broadview Hotel


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Image: Yvonne Tsui

Eastside restaurant veterans John Sinopoli and Erik Joyal (Ascari Enoteca, Gare de L’Est Brasserie) have been quite busy over the past little while. They built four kitchens in the span of a year, half of them are in the Broadview Hotel, where the duo manages the entire food program from the café to the rooftop patio to the hotel restaurant, The Civic.

The pair has spent most of the last decade opening local, neighbourhood restaurants that have been popular with residents of Riverside, Riverdale and Leslieville. When news that Streetcar Developments was putting in a boutique hotel at Queen and Broadview, it was clear that they’d want to be involved. 

The Broadview is “a jewel of the east end of Toronto and reflective of the community,” says Sinopoli. The Civic, on the main floor of the hotel “nods to the history of the building with food that reflects the time of the building,” which in the 1900s was The New Broadview Hotel, renting in at $1.50 a night.


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

The Design Agency who designed restaurants such as Momofuku and Lena created a merger of old world charm with modernity – dark tones, rich textures and leather banquettes and chairs.

With The Civic, Sinopoli says that they wanted to maintain that “old-timey feel to really represent something that had its roots in Toronto’s traditions, unlike our other restaurants which draw from other people’s traditions,” referring to their Italian enoteca and French brasserie. “There is lots for Toronto be proud of,” he adds referring to the fact that we had world-class restaurants before the wave of fine Italian dining led by Centro

The restaurant is a throwback to the Toronto “golden age” post-confederation where there was “a lot of opulent eating.”


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

When designing the menu at The Civic, Sinopoli went back in the pages of Toronto culinary history by way of menus from lavish dinners at the King Eddy and Royal York Hotel to draw inspiration. “I wanted the food and content to be of that time, but the execution, technique and sensibility to be modern.” 

Expect to find items such as Rabbit Terrine ($14), with duck and Armagnac-soaked prunes served with pickled vegetables and house-made espelette crackers and Red Deer Tartare ($16) to whet your appetite.

The menu then opens up into a selection of seafood, steaks and chops with a la carte sides and an array of sauces ranging from chimichurri to brown butter jus.

There’s a Halibut Fillet ($34), on a bed of baby vegetables and topped with salsa verde and a fragrant fumet (a fish stock) poured tableside or the Braised Leg of Rabbit ($28) with roasted radishes and baby carrots, lavender jus and simmered spelt.


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

The Civic also has the luxury of an in-house pastry chef. Sarah Battye (formerly of the Spoke Club) is re-creating classic British desserts that are fun and delicious. Brandy Snaps (Napolean VS ginger snap shells filled with Chantilly cream) and Lemon Chiffon Pie (with coconut cream and preserved blackberries) to name two.


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

Tony DaSilva (Baro) is behind the bar whipping up “debonair mixtures” — read: fancy drinks. The cocktails are inspired by the late Victorian era, around 1900. “The Savoy (a legendary hotel in London) was a big source of inspiration,” he says. “Ice wasn’t as big a thing back then,” so many of his cocktails are served neat. 

For these room-temperature cocktails, one would add water to open up the flavours. One example is the Uphill Both Ways, a cocktail that features bourbon, amaro nonino, sherry and xocolatl mole bitters.  The Chef’s Choice, is an ode to Sinopoli’s time in Japan with Toki whiskey and nori. There are even dessert cocktails like the Jiminy Cricket, a grasshopper cocktail, or sort of adult chocolate-mint “milkshake” made with crème de cacao and Luxardo espresso liqueur cream.

The wine cellar is housed to the side of the semi-private dining area, enclosed by a vibrant, velvet curtain. The selection is comprised of “wines that tell a story and are more interesting,” says Sinopoli.

And if you happen to wander in without a reservation, the main floor café menu is a “reduced version” of the Civic menu with the additions of a burger or steak frites.   

The Civic, 106 Broadview Ave., 416-362-8439


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 


(IMAGE: YVONNE TSUI)

 

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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.

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