The Kingston Social House
Kingston Social House is one of the quirkiest restaurants in town, and in a city like Toronto, that’s really saying something. Most notably, they’re only regularly open for dinner service Thursday through Saturday.
The name says it all, aspiring to bring a sociable and homey atmosphere to a sleepy neighbourhood, serving global comfort food and hosting events like workshops and pop-up restaurants by young up-and-coming chefs.
It does indeed feel like walking into a dinner party at someone’s home, albeit that of a professional designer (the day job of one of the owners), aromas wafting from a totally open kitchen at the back.
Art Deco influences mingle with modern and rustic touches, an electric fireplace in the corner heating an oft-requested nook bordered by storefront windows.
A pot of house-made chicken liver mousse ($10) from the “Nosh” section is silky and has almost a peanut-butter-and-jam look and feel topped with sweet cherry preserves, crunchier crostini and softer toast soldiers on the side for spreading.
French onion soup ($10) is a specialty, hearty broth packed with fragrant, cooked-down onions, topped with soaked seasoned croutons and gloriously gooey and stretchy melted Gruyere.
Georgian-style pelmeni ($15) from a “Shareable” section are made by hand in house, simple delicately pinched dough filled with a silky blend of beef and chicken and tossed in velvety butter and sharp dill.
Red wine vinegar and sour cream are analogous to the kind of sauces you’d see with Asian dumplings: dip into one first, then the other to accent the basic dumplings with acidity and richness.
Beef kofta meatballs ($18) from this same section essentially take the standard Middle Eastern kofta and form it into more of a meatball shape.
Strongly seasoned by spices like cumin, they’re cooked sous vide then grilled so they’re charred yet juicy, served with a familiar spread of fries, hummus, pita, pickles, and a very herby Israeli salad.
The Lumiere ($14) suits the magical environment perfectly, a slightly bitter and boozy blend of gin, elderflower liqueur and witchy green chartreuse set off by lime and orange bitters.
A P&T G&T ($12) from a short list of gin and tonics is named for co-owners and couple Polina Privis and Tanya Dercach.
It’s probably the most standard G&T on the menu, with Bombay and Fever Tree elderflower tonic plus some floating juniper berries and lemon.
More than anything Kingston Social House aims to bring back a bit of the feeling from when this area was a bustling community in the forties with nods like the marquee signage outside, speakeasy feel and a photo of Kingston Road presiding over that open kitchen.