People’s Eatery would like to remind diners that Spadina Avenue was not always Chinatown and that its landscape is still recreationally and culinarily evolving. The crew behind the wildly successful 416 Snack Bar has opened up a spot that channels a culturally diverse menu while paying homage to the past, present, and future of “The Avenue,” as they like to call it. The two-story space now caters to a more assorted crop of diners – forkless snack bar eats plus plenty of booze on the main floor and a refined tasting menu on the top tier. The restaurant’s mentality, however, remains the same throughout: good food and good times.
The overall atmosphere at People’s Eatery is clean and simple. The fine details are there for those that care to look – inlaid wood tables and walls are contrasted by grated metal bar stools and siding. A small, semi-private “lobster room” in the back holds up to eight comfortably. Upstairs is bright and looks exceptionally neat despite the large distressed back wall. The front of the room boasts large windows that overlook the bustling Avenue. As the inside lights dim, the famous roadway outside will brighten and buzz with life. People’s Eatery is meant for the night.
“The biggest challenge has been getting people comfortable with our style of dining in Chinatown,” partner Adrian Ravinsky tells us. “People are used to coming for a meal and leaving – the challenge for us has been getting them to get comfortable and socialize, the way they do at 416.”
Make your way through a carefully curated beverage menu that features artisanal draughts and a playful selection of wine and cocktails. The snack menu downstairs is to be enjoyed sans utensils. It’s divided into four categories: odes to Spadina’s Jewish Roots; current East-Asian influences; Toronto’s diverse cultural cuisine; and larger plates.
Still in soft launch mode, the upstairs dining room will be the first of their concepts to require cutlery. Six-course tasting menus with wine pairings will begin to run at $100 ($65 without wine) and will represent the many facets unique to Toronto’s divergent dining landscape.
Both menus are created by Executive Chef Dustin Gallagher (he man’s 416 as well) and executed by Chef de Cuisine Jonah Snitman.
Currently listed on the downstairs menu, start with the chopped liver with foie on challah and the potato latkes with smoked trout, sour cream and roe. Head to the Far East with the sweet and sour flavours of general tso-fu and sample their ever-popular bbq pork bun of 416 fame. Don’t skip the melt-in-your-mouth fried tongue sandwich on a pretzel bun.
Go big, but don’t be rushed to go home. The Peking duck platter or smoked fish board will keep you occupied for a while. Come early and stay late at People’s Eatery – Chinatown isn’t just for sloppy plates of drunken noodles anymore.
What are some of your favourite dishes from People’s Eatery? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.