Housed in an old pickle factory, next to the future home of Toronto’s MOCA, Drake Commissary is the latest addition to emerge from Jeff Stober’s Drake empire, which started 13 years ago with the Drake Hotel and now includes a restaurant in the financial district, an inn in Prince Edward County and five general stores. Located on the rail path that connects two of the cities hippest spots – Parkdale and Junction Triangle – the Commissary is a hybrid restaurant, bar, bakery and larder that serves as the hub for the brand’s culinary operations, providing all the breads and sauces for each of the outposts while churning out out fresh food all day.
Inspired by his brief stint at San Francisco’s Bar Tartine, chef Jonas Grupiljonas focuses on slow fermentation and fresh ingredients, making everything – including sourdoughs, smørrebrød, patisserie, confectionary, pickling, kombucha, house-cured charcuterie, pasta, gelato and preserves – from scratch.
And like the food, designer John Tong of +Tongtong Studio, wanted the interiors to cross at ‘the intersection of handcrafted and high production’, resulting in a modern-yet-utilitarian wood and metalwork look, inspired by a pop-up Prouvé prefab in New York; there are green industrial lights spanning across exposed duct work, folded sheet metal contours along the bars, a cosy dropped wood ceiling and custom creations like bulleted banquettes and riveted metal tables that mimic the mechanised processes that pumps out gourmet goodies in the back.
A selection of prepared meals, displayed on heated marble counters or on stocked shelves, are available to go, but we suggest staying in to watch the action from behind the glass-walled kitchen while sampling dishes such as the classic Drake smoked brisket sandwich, served on freshly braked bread with horseradish crème and grainy mustard.