azhar toronto

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.
azhar toronto

When they announced in the fall they'd be opening Azhar, more of the same was expected.

azhar toronto

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 toronto

"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.

azhar toronto

Offerings include wood-fired baked breads, Middle Eastern sauces made in-house, hand-mixed spice blends, and dips and spreads.

azhar toronto

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.

azhar toronto

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.

azhar toronto

Dips might include muhammara, tzaziki, labneh, or baba ganoush.

azhar toronto

They also make their own matzo crackers, halloumi, yogurt and quince paste.

azhar toronto

"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.

azhar toronto

For example, when stopping by on weekends you'll find exclusive items like shakshuka kits, whole roasted cauliflower and lahmacun.

azhar toronto

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.

azhar torontoYou 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.

azhar toronto

"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.

azhar toronto

Items from Middle Eastern artisans and local brands include cheeses, meats and teas.

azhar toronto

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.

Lead photo by

Fareen Karim


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