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The Saint

Posted by Staff / Reviewed on April 25, 2012 / review policy

The Saint Restaurant TorontoThe Saint Tavern finally opened earlier this month after long licensing battle saw the Ossington Avenue restaurant sit in limbo for roughly three years. Despite the wait, owners Peter Tsebelis and Gus Giazitzidis have still brought something a little new to the street. Although many will want to call it a gastropub (don't do that), the Saint is more like an upscale tavern that takes drink as seriously as food. Its warm, downplayed decor coupled with menu items like steak frites and daily oysters also hints at a French bistro.

The Saint Restaurant TorontoOutside, the restaurant is unassuming, which belies the hustle and bustle inside. The dining space is narrow, but far deeper than you'd imagine walking in the door. The bar area seating (at the front) is dark and lush, with large semi-circular booths (again, bistro-like). Diners with reservations are ushered to a white-titled area in the back. The colour contrast is abrupt and provides a nice distinction between the casual bar atmosphere and the serious work in the kitchen.

The Saint Restaurant TorontoThe Saint's bar menu dwarfs that of the food. All the mainstream cocktails are covered here ($14), with a few signature offerings that are highlighted at the top. I tried the hard-to-find Aviation ($16), which comes in at 2.5oz of booze, despite the subtle flavour profile. Although not as good as the one on offer around the corner at Cocktail Bar — they actually craft their own crème de violette — it's still a refreshing start to the meal, somewhat reminiscent of Turkish Delight.

The Saint Restaurant TorontoWe shared the steak tartare ($14), which is already a new favourite of mine. The meat was bright and tender with a delicate heat hovering in the background. It's topped with pickled greens and served with both soft toasted bread rounds and crispy, almost cheesy, waffle chips.

The Saint Restaurant TorontoFor a main, I ordered the day's Savoury Pie ($20), which was chicken and vegetable. The waiter warned me that it's a large portion, and he certainly wasn't exaggerating. I foolishly ignored him and ordered the creamed spinach side ($6). While the pie was large enough to be an entire meal, I don't regret ordering the side because the spinach, served with ricotta, was amazing. The pie had a thin crispy crust and large strips of fresh, juicy chicken. Unfortunately it was under-seasoned, and thus a bit bland overall. Best to correct as best you can with some salt at the table.

The Saint Restaurant TorontoMy companion had the Crispy Duck Leg ($21, lead photo), a dish which really showed off what the kitchen is capable of. The meat is juicy and fork-tender, and the skin crisped to perfection. Served on a bed of stewed baby vegetables and white beans in bacon, the portion size isn't skimpy either. She ordered a side of asparagus with Parmesan ($6) to accompany the duck, and though it was quite good, the beans were just that much better. Upon finishing our mains, we were just too stuffed to consider the dessert menu.

From the fluidity of service to the comfortable attitude of what already appear to be regulars, you'd never suspect the Saint's been open less than a month. It occupies the sweet-spot between fine dining and a boisterous pub atmosphere. Every conversation has to be shouted when the dining room fills up, but that just adds to the neighbourhood vibe that's already been well cultivated here.

The Saint Restaurant TorontoContributed by Angelina Purpura



Shannon Elaine / April 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm
Looks good. Is this place stroller friendly? I'd like to meet my mommy group there for a pint and some duck.
Bd / April 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm
Hire a babysitter and then go.
G replying to a comment from Bd / April 25, 2012 at 01:17 pm

If I'm paying $16 for a carefully crafted cocktail, I'd like to enjoy it in a child-free bar.
Arooo! replying to a comment from Shannon Elaine / April 25, 2012 at 01:29 pm
That was funny!
touche replying to a comment from Shannon Elaine / April 25, 2012 at 01:57 pm
Troll away my friend. Troll away
Dan replying to a comment from G / April 25, 2012 at 01:59 pm
I am sure some hot moms will not cramp your poor style.
LMIH replying to a comment from Shannon Elaine / April 25, 2012 at 02:20 pm
...because a group of strollers in a pub makes loads of sense. Ever heard of a picnic in a park?
Rmund / April 25, 2012 at 03:25 pm
Every baby deserves a pint of Guinness!
lol / April 25, 2012 at 03:40 pm
unleash the douches!
KitCat / April 25, 2012 at 07:33 pm
I love how all these people hate on kids, but you best believe they will be the first person crying out how everywhere should be child friendly when they have a kid.

ry / April 25, 2012 at 10:31 pm
Enough kid talk already....I went opening week and it was pretty good. I really liked it all except the packaging. The interior is terribly bland and looks like a ttc bathroom (the old kind not the nice new ones), at least in the back. It was very loud, the tiles resonate sound like I've never heard. You could hear people talking 5 tables away very clearly. If there were kids in there they couldn't make it any louder. Apart from that, the food and service were good enough to get me back. You can tell the place is run very well out front and in back. However next time I'll sit at a booth or the bar where the look isn't so depressing.
Arod replying to a comment from G / April 25, 2012 at 10:50 pm
Don't worry the Mommy Group Stroller types go in the day while you're at work paying the bills and paying the mortgage. Their back at home by 5pm when you're just going out... Paths never cross.
The Troll / April 26, 2012 at 12:37 pm
The Saint is run by the douche bags who own Buca -- a very nice interior, and shitty over priced italian restaurant located on the King st. These guys think they're Kings of Toronto city.

forget this place. I give it 1-2 years top before it shuts down.

eyeconoclastic / April 26, 2012 at 07:45 pm
hmmm. . . . nice portions. like they trying to prove something. lets see if it lasts. beer selection leaves a lot to be desired. reaches yet stops short.
albeit, I did have a great meal, and like I said, lets see if the portions are set to be consistent with the prices.
Tyson / April 26, 2012 at 10:37 pm
I had a look in there the other day and the place looks great. Clearly they have put a great deal of work into the place. I hope the food and service do it justice.

I can't wait to go with my wife and bring my 2 year old........ stroller and all. As for the rude small minded people who hide behind posts on the Internet I wonder if you'd voice these types of opinions to people when you are actually in the same room with them or would u be afraid of getting a slap, then keep your mouth shut until u muster the courage to whisper to your mate how wrong it is that parents actually have the nerve to bring a child out in public, and then pay up and leave? You're probably to busy pretending to be a UFC/mma fighter on your playstaion to go out any way. Its actually sad that the Internet has provided people like you a stage..... brings out the worst in some people.
New Ad / April 27, 2012 at 09:44 am

Let's install some washroom ads in The Saint.

Problem ?
Hey Tyson ... / April 27, 2012 at 10:05 am
I hope your 2 year old doesn't grow up to express the same sense of entitlement that you do ...

Having said that, I do agree that this place looks great. But get a babysitter.
Josh / April 29, 2012 at 01:31 am
Add BBQ Pork to the menu and I'm there!
Tanya / April 29, 2012 at 01:40 am
Do they have a kiddie hour or kiddie dance?
Jon / April 29, 2012 at 01:44 am
A family with kids will on average per person spend more money at a restaurant then singles do. Cash is money
Gabe replying to a comment from Hey Tyson ... / April 29, 2012 at 01:48 am
Hey Tyson - just cause you're still rebelling against Mom and Dad and the system doesn't mean the rest of us can't introduce our kids to the world
Jack / May 3, 2012 at 11:17 am
what's the place to the left of the Saint? Looks nicer I'll go there instead.
Carnivore Queen / June 9, 2012 at 06:04 pm
I went there last night and had the steak frites. I highly recommend it. Tender, juicy and tasty. The steak tartare was really tender but lacked a bit of flavour. The cocktails are so-so, not really worth at $15.
shawn / November 24, 2012 at 07:17 pm
Can I bring my dog?
Gobblers Knob / February 9, 2013 at 04:16 pm
Can I bring a large stack of porn, and a bottle of lube?
Porn King / February 9, 2013 at 04:39 pm
Sometimes, I like to touch myself inappropriately to all of your comments.....
Love to Dine / March 1, 2013 at 07:24 pm
I've been for brunch twice, unfortunately neither were great experiences. My poached eggs tasted of vinegar - oopsy! During my second attempt I had the pancakes, they were so heavy and starchy I only bothered to eat one, they just weren't good....not sure I'm up for trying again :( - disappointed
AJ / April 19, 2013 at 01:10 pm
Had dinner here last week and thought the food&service was great.
The menu looked basic but when they explain the ingredients, you know you're in for a treat.
We started with the jalapenos which were excellent and had the steak as a main. Tasty and cooked just right. Decently priced wine list. I would definitely recommend. The only thing I'm not a fan of, which a ton of restaurants are doing is drizzling pork fat on nearly everything. Enough with the Pork already!!

*Agree with the Buca comment above. Not a fan.
Alex / April 24, 2013 at 12:24 pm
My wife and I were walking on Ossington and noticed The Saint was busy. After waiting for 20 minutes we sat down. Here is my take: wine list is very simple and filled with cheap quality wines. I ordered two different whites and both had bad quality and the amount they pour in your glass is very low. Then I ordered a Wedge Salad which was wilted and a beef tartar which the beef was brown color (looked like it was sitting outside for a long time) and extremely salty. I also ordered the chicken wings and I can say it was one of the worse chicken wings I tried in Toronto. Toronto pubs are known for their crispy wings. I understand the Saint is a pub but the wings were lemon chipotle and very soggy and almost disgusting to eat as it slipped in my fingers. My wife ordered steak frites and no surprises here, steak was chewy and fries were salty to the point of being sharp on your pallet. I am writing this the next morning and since I came home last night I have a uncomfortable burn in my stomach which tell me something was wrong with one the dishes. Toronto has many more great quality restaurants that offer fresh and beautifully crafted food and certainly the Saint is not one them. Cheers.
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mr. / May 10, 2013 at 11:29 am
Have been to The Saint a few times and generally enjoy the atmosphere and food.

I went for their buck-a-shuck and was quiet disappointed. The gentlemen who was shucking did a very poor job. He did not smell one oyster before plating to make sure they were fine. He also did not properly cut the adductor muscle on any of our oysters so you couldn't just suck back the oysters, you had to pull with your teeth, or cut the muscle yourself. We also had grit in about half our oysters.

I think if a restaurant is going to have oysters you should have a trained oyster shucker who knows how to clean, smell and properly shuck and plate them.

I'll give you guys another chance with the oysters, maybe the gentlemen was covering for someone and had not been trained.

Ali / January 13, 2014 at 06:31 pm
I had dinner there last week. I was not impressed by the food. Other than the fact that the menu is not that interesting, the striploin was heavily grilled on the outside to a point of overwhelming burnt taste. The person I was dining with was also complaining about the saltiness of his dish. Overall I was very disappointed.
becks / August 17, 2014 at 06:50 pm
First off.... there are about three kids eating dinner here right now. I think they took advantage of the prix fixe. Second off, if you want to be snotty about accessility for children in a "PUB/TAVERN" go to Chuck E. Cheese for Chrissake. The food here is awesome. Shucker is comparable tto Oyster Boy and the servers are hospitable and fun. Go get a life. You"re complaining about $1 oysters. Womp womp.

Saint=very good. 4.5/5
Janine / August 17, 2014 at 06:56 pm
Seriously not sure what the above is about, given this is about food and where to eat in Toronto. If you're interested in a proper review here it is: my partner and I came here despite the bad reviews. Why? Honest? Because I wanted cheap oysters. And a nice place to eat them in. What I got? Dead opposite from the above nonsense. Well skilled shucker, tasty oysters, decent priced drinks, very friendly greetings (from all). Our server was funny, attentive, and polite. I cannot see where any of the above comments are coming from, but I will say give it a try and make your own decision. I know I'm glad we did. Cheers.

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