Oakwood Hardware Toronto

Oakwood Hardware

Oakwood Hardware is a special restaurant in the sometimes overlooked area on Oakwood north of St. Clair. I went to high school on Oakwood, so the neighbourhood has a down home, untouched feel to me.

Chef and owner of Oakwood Hardware Anne Sorrenti has been everything from a Chopped champion to a political assistant. Growing up in Kensington with a German mother and an Italian father, and now married to a Trinidadian, food has always surrounded her.

Oakwood Hardware TorontoA ladder strung with lights hangs from the ceiling, an antique hand-operated drill serves as the house beer tap, and knick knacks are buried in a bar top that emulates a sandbox or archeological dig.

Oakwood Hardware TorontoBartender Nick Watson (formerly of Parts & Labour, The Wren, and The Shore Leave) has created an often-changing cocktail list ($12 - $14), with drinks like the Plum’s the Word: house spiced plum shrub, Woodford Reserve bourbon, Dolan vermouth, a bit of lime and maple and Autumn Bog Cranberry bitters from Bittered Sling over crushed ice with a sprig of thyme.

Oakwood Hardware TorontoThe Yellowtail is a lovely take on a margarita with Tromba Reposado tequila, spicy and herbaceous Strega, sweet black pepper and fennel honey house syrup, lime juice, and egg white to make it a kind of margarita sour with an aromatic sage leaf on top.

Oakwood Hardware TorontoA charcuterie board (market price) comes out laden with spicy sopressata, liverwurst, strong seed mustard, sharp Stilton, truffle and ancho potato chips, pickled eggplant and preserved mushrooms.

Oakwood Hardware TorontoThey serve a standard burger ($14) to which we add double smoked cheddar and crispy double smoked Ontario bacon, a nicely coarsely ground brisket and chuck mixture.

Oakwood Hardware TorontoA hearty vegetarian shepherd’s pie that isn’t losing anything without the meat, still offering up the standard expected flavours of sweet corn and creamy potatoes, with lentils and a formidable cheese crust.

Oakwood Hardware TorontoCorn arepas ($10) are topped with nopales and a BBQ brisket that’s been braised in the Wellington house lager for a little bite that’s airy and rich.

Oakwood Hardware TorontoPork done two ways features a chop and crispy, fatty pork belly with red cabbage, apple, stewed plums and braised onions, which create a sweet and savoury interplay that reminds me of a homestyle chops and applesauce pairing.

Oakwood Hardware TorontoKorean fried chicken is a boneless thigh brined in buttermilk overnight, sometimes for a day and a half, until it’s sublimely tender, topped with house kimchi. The Korean element is right on, not too overpowering, just has that lip-licking spicy quality of gochujang.

Oakwood Hardware TorontoThe name Oakwood Hardware has always been on this 1928 building, and the inside of it speaks to that. A piece of an old fireplace frames the entrance to the washrooms which are complete with old baby bathtubs for sinks.

Oakwood Hardware Toronto

Photos by Jesse Milns

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