Gerrard East’s latest addition, Brickyard Bistro, began as a joke. When Eiko Anderson saw that a local go-to diner had suddenly closed its doors, she casually threw out the idea of taking it over on a group chat with her friends Jesse Hughes, Carly Thorne (who is married to Hughes) and Corey Durand. They all live in the neighbourhood and had a soft spot for what was formerly a brunch spot called the Brickyard Grounds.
When Anderson contacted the owners, it was quickly apparent that the “pipe dream” of opening up shop could become a reality, complete with a relatively easy and organic transition.
Fast-forward seven months: enter, Brickyard Bistro, an airy and welcoming new spot that has taken over the southwest corner of Gerrard and Greenwood and serves up French-inspired comfort food. It joins the burgeoning (but still a little gritty) Gerrard St. East neighbourhood, where craft breweries, cocktail bars, and cool hipster-filled restaurants have recently surfaced, much to the delight of the stroller-pushing young professionals who have scored semi-affordable real estate in the gentrifying ‘hood.
By day, Brickyard Bistro is currently a croissant-filled gourmet coffee shop that’s bathed in light thanks to massive windows, with lunch service expected to commence by the end of May. By night, its small(ish) but well-curated dinner menu has already drawn repeat customers since doors opened two weeks ago.
The space was given an all-hands-on-deck facelift (the owners were clocking in 18-hour days leading up to the opening), with the interior design curated by Neil Schmidt of Faux Plus Studio and carpentry work done by Adam Fullerton to create a “modern French industrial” feel, while maintaining some elements of the pre-existing establishment.While things like the original chairs and tables have been repurposed, what were once white walls are now covered with concrete-effect paint, and both the industrial lighting and copper walls definitely offer a more raw, urban feel than that of a home-style diner. An inevitable talking point includes an assortment of greenery that breathes life into planters within the walls.
If you’re a wine lover, the wine program makes the trek east to the spot all the more worth it. Hughes – a former bar manager at Bar Hop – has sourced a well-curated selection from across Ontario that will rotate on the regular. Music to the palettes of variety-craving winos, the wines are offered by the flight, with most of their selections available in 2oz pour options to allow for mixing and matching.
The cocktail menu currently features an assortment of five cocktails to start with – including the Tequila Old Fashioned ($14) and the Fullerton Manhattan ($12) – but, like the wine list, it will change all the time. At the base of many of them is local whiskey and gin. Hughes plans on introducing things like a Gin Smash made with fresh fruit from a local farmers’ market come summer.
Chef Jason Kibyuk’s menu features starters like Charcuterie that includes prosciutto, salami, duck rillette and chicken liver ($15), a locally sourced Cheese Platter ($14) and a Breadboard with an assortment of dips ($10). His Ratatouille ($15) is one of the best I’ve tried and the Fish of the Day (MP) couldn’t have been fresher or flakier (no, this is not an ad). Apparently, the Escargot ($12) has also been a hit so far – likely because it’s baked in a bacon cream sauce.
A quick crowd-pleaser is also the Duck Confit ($23), which is served crispy over mushroom, onion, and potato, cooked in duck fat and served with a blueberry jus. The Rack of Lamb ($24) is pan-seared with a forestiere sauce and served over potato.
If you’re more in the mood for beef, the Steak Frites ($21) features a 6oz shoulder cut that’s served with either a red wine reduction or a creamy blue cheese dressing. Or if you’re looking for something truly comforting, try the Pork Cassoulet ($16); crispy pork belly and pickled red cabbage served atop slow-simmered beans in a demi glaze.
To end on a sweet note, desserts include a choice of Chocolate Mousse ($6) topped with orange blossom whipped cream or a daily crème brulee ($7) in unique flavours like peanut butter (and yes, it’s as dreamy as it sounds).
Brickyard Bistro is currently open for dinner Monday through Saturday.
Have you dined at Brickyard Bistro yet? Let us know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.