DINE and Destinations - - SARA SAYS… -

Long be­fore lo­ca­vores be­came fash­ion­able, Allen’s be­gan spe­cial­iz­ing in lo­cal food and wine. Their pre­sen­ta­tion of lo­cal On­tario meats, or­gan­i­cally raised, hor­mone-free, iden­ti­fied by breed, farm, feed and age, is un­ri­valled. They carry the largest all-vqa wine list ever as­sem­bled. Ad­di­tion­ally, there are more than 300 dif­fer­ent whiskeys and 140 beers. Lo­cals, celebri­ties, the­atre and lit­er­ary fig­ures all grav­i­tate here for the con­ge­nial per­son­al­ity. In sum­mer, the back­yard bar­be­cue, with its own menu and ded­i­cated chef, is a de­light.

Week­end brunch is an institution. Try poached eggs on lump crab­meat cakes with steamed arugula and match­stick fries, or fruit pan­cakes with peameal ba­con and a side of sweet potato hash browns, with a flute of Cham­pagne and freshly squeezed or­ange juice. There’s wel­com­ing warmth and an am­bi­ence of feel-good-ism that en­velops you the mo­ment you walk through the door. Slide into one of the well-worn, solid-wood booths or sit at a blue-and-white check-clothed ta­ble and find culi­nary com­fort. An eclec­tic menu with a colos­sal shrimp cock­tail; crunchy corn­meal crust pizza; gar­lic-braised pork shoul­der with soft po­lenta and sautéed rap­ini; and some of the most mouth­wa­ter­ing steak in Toronto. De­cid­edly in­for­mal but thor­oughly pro­fes­sional, this vin­tage New York-style sa­loon, com­plete with oak bar and pressed-tin ceil­ing, is a unique treat.

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