Right in the middle of Yonge-Dundas Square, one of Toronto’s oldest restaurants sat closed for what felt like forever. It didn’t reopen with all of the restaurants around it when Covid hit, but with good reason. It went 884 days without business while some changes were made. The oldest restaurant in continuous operation at the same location in the city just underwent a magical transformation. The Senator is coming back to life with a fresh look.
About the transformation
The Senator’s new look includes a swanky piano bar, located just above the main dining space. It’s expected to open in the next few months, and it will host live music. Of course, it will complement the pre-existing magic of the long-standing restaurant and will operate with a speakeasy-style. The renovation also sees the inclusion of a bottle shop, which will offer a selection of rare and hard-to-find liquors from across the country and all over the globe.
About The Senator
As one of Toronto’s oldest restaurants, The Senator has been beloved by global artists and locals alike. The restaurant even hosted Elton John once, who had nothing but nice things to say about both the hospitality and the burger, which he touts as the best in the world.
The Senator is also largely responsible for popularizing brunch in Toronto and has become famous for feeding the crowds that flock to nearby Massey Hall and Ed Mirvish Theatre. The food menu is designed to be family-style, offering high-quality comfort food that’s perfect for sharing with loved ones.
It’s been in operation since 1929 when it was originally a super casual diner called the Busy Bee, owned and operated by Macedonian entrepreneur Robert Angeloff, who opened it after the construction of the nearby theatres and concert halls. It was renamed The Senator after it was sold in 1948, to George Nicolau, often referred to as a “cook with a vision.” Current owner Bobby Sniderman has been involved since the eighties and has helped elevate The Senator to a high-quality culinary destination in the city. He intervened in 1984, saving the space and renovating it into the restaurant we know and love today.
The building was originally built as a private home in 1850 owned by the General Council of the Salvation Army. At the time, the Yonge-Dundas intersection was not even a major point in what was newly dubbed the city of Toronto.
Irish Chef Eoin Ramsbottom is responsible for the new, family-style menu, which offers huge portions as well as smaller sharing plates. The Senator’s famous royal Canadian honey is the special ingredient in many of the restaurant’s dishes as well as its cocktails, like the brunch menu’s yogurt bowl. A lot of the dishes offer house-made specialties too, like the popular house-cured salmon, the lobster ravioli, many breads, spreads, and biscuits that dot the brunch and dinner menus.