The Drake Hotel has always been a favourite destination for Toronto’s tastemakers and trendsetters. Almost any night of the week you can count on the hipster-meets-Bay Street crowd to be decked out in the season’s fashions, Gin Gin Mule in hand. Past the crowd and the drinks and the trendy atmosphere, though, is the amazing food available from the Drake’s kitchen, prepared with care by executive chef Anthony Rose.
The Drake Hotel’s Dining Roadshow launched on Thursday, bringing a restaurant-within-a-restaurant approach to re-imagining the already superb dining space. Chef Rose has always had an internationally-inclined and locally-focused approach to the haute comfort food he and his team prepare, and now they’re taking this dedication “on the road,” figuratively, of course. The restaurant-within-a-restaurant will feature three different concepts, beginning with Summer School Dining Hall – the current conceptualization diners will be treated to – and continuing with Chinatown in early September and an as-of-yet unannounced third stop just in time for the holiday season.
Summer School Dining Hall, the first stop on the Drake Hotel’s Dining Roadshow, is a throwback to high school days. But this re-imagining of teenage lunch-time cafeterias is different than any mess hall you’ve seen. The menu is an upscale interpretation of old school favourites, like chilli con carne tortillas, tomato alphabet soup, lobster roll with poached Maritime lobster, and pork ‘n beans. Communal tables made from old bowling alley lanes line the resto, with vintage gramophones turned light fixtures and bookshelves with school trophies and retro class photos completing the atmospheric changes.
The Drake Hotel and Chef Rose’s Dining Roadshow is a must-see experience, if only for the nostalgia – though once you taste the food, we’re pretty sure the nostalgia won’t be the only reason you head back. Kudos to the Drake for continuing to create experiences that keep foodies intrigued and Toronto’s young professionals excited.
Photography by Connie Tsang.