Toronto restaurant transforms into Turkish bakery as it waits for lockdown to end
A Toronto restaurant that's been waiting to welcome guests for dine-in service has temporarily transformed into a Turkish bakery selling wood-fired breads during lockdown.
Gusto 54 is known for restaurants such as Gusto 101, Gusto 501 and Chubby's where dine-in atmosphere including great service, breathtaking decor and artisanal cocktails are a major part of the appeal.
Unfortunately they haven't been able to show off the more experiential side of the restaurant, but in the meantime they've turned the space into a marketplace selling baked goods, pantry items and more.
"Azhar marketplace combines Middle Eastern influences with local and imported ingredients, all prepared in-house with our wood-fired oven at the heart of it," Chef Stuart Cameron told blogTO.
Offerings include wood-fired baked breads, Middle Eastern sauces made in-house, hand-mixed spice blends, and dips and spreads.
The wood fire oven the restaurant space and bakery program centres around turns out fermented potato and sourdough pita, sourdough baguettes, Jerusalem bagels, Barbari flatbread, fermented potato and yogurt buns, and sourdough.
They also have babka, and giant knots of wood-fired challah made with cold-pressed canola oil, fresh yeast, eggs, lots of honey and local flour.
Dips might include muhammara, tzaziki, labneh, or baba ganoush.
They also make their own matzo crackers, halloumi, yogurt and quince paste.
"What's remarkable about our marketplace is that it has allowed our future guests to experience a first taste of our dishes to see how they resonate before we fully open our doors," says Cameron.
For example, when stopping by on weekends you'll find exclusive items like shakshuka kits, whole roasted cauliflower and lahmacun.
Not only will you also find low-intervention wines to go along with your Middle Eastern snacks, they also carry beer from Avling that's actually sustainably made using their day-old sourdough.
You can also pick up house bottled cocktails here like a rose and saffron mule made with rose and saffron liqueur, tangerine cordial, rose water, ginger beer and orange cranberry bitters.
"Along with our prepared food, it has been a treat to collaborate with Middle Eastern artisans and local brands all across the city. This has truly created a magical community feel to Azhar," says Cameron.
Items from Middle Eastern artisans and local brands include cheeses, meats and teas.
They're launching a takeaway menu in March, and they're looking forward to opening for outdoor service when they're able to do so safely, hopefully in the spring.
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