What's the vibe?
With two years and nearly a million dollars poured into it, expect a very different space but with a few nods to the old including an old cigarette machine at the entrance, and the tavern's original sign, now hanging out on the patio. Chef Jesse Vallins, previously of The Saint, leads the kitchen in delivering a menu of elevated comfort food in an environment that simultaneously elevates the Gerrard and Carlaw neighbourhood. Service is polished but not stuffy, as is the venue. The two dining spaces on adjoining sides of an impressive horseshoe bar will soon be complimented by a side patio and private dining space in the basement.
What to drink?
Manhattan's and their house Rye and Ginger (a mix of Gooderham & Worts, ginger beer and candied ginger) are available on tap and come to the table looking as if they've been teleported from Bar Chef (see our Instagram shot to see what we're talking about). The Stealth Margarita is also as beautiful as it is tasty, with elderflower liqueur giving it a sweetness to compliment the spicy homemade jalapeño tincture. A handful of Ontario and international wines are available for a set price per glass and bottle-adopting the 'all wines are house wines' movement we're fans of. A rotating line-up of craft beer rounds out the libations with local favourites Great Lakes Brewery and Left Field pouring during our visit.
What to eat?
Snacks like the steak tartare (served with a salt-cured egg yolk in its centre), roasted vegetable salad with fried halloumi and house-made sausages make it hard to save room for the main event. You'll be glad you did though as Vallins perfectly executes classics like lasagna, Caesar salad, pork chops and cheeseburgers. While the wood-burning grill pumps out incredible cuts of meat, the sides to accompany them are what truly steal the show. The one you can't leave without trying? The Hasselback potatoes which come on bed of truffle butter with chilled foie gras poured on top. We told you they aren't playing around.
Dinner and drinks for two: around $180
955 Gerrard Street East; 416-465-0655; mapleleaftavern.ca