the dorset toronto

The Dorset

The Dorset brings a fresh taste of the southwest English coast and countryside right to The Well in Toronto. 

As the final addition to Oliver & Bonacini's trio of chef-driven restaurants at the property development, The Dorset draws inspiration from Executive Chef Ryan Lister's (The Rabbit Hole, Liberty Commons at Big Rock Brewery) quaint hometown in England. 

Alongside him is fellow Brit Chef de Cuisine Rob Ratcliffe, who boasts nearly 20 years of fine dining experience including stints at England's Michelin-starred Lucknam Park and acclaimed Hawksworth Restaurant in Vancouver.

the dorset torontoDesigned by Navigate Design, The Dorset has several distinct dining areas that pay tribute to English coastal and countryside living with a touch of cheeky humour. 

the dorset torontoA re-imagined 17th-century fox-hunting mural leads you to another dining area filled with rich fabrics, sultry velvets, and signature plaid chairs. 

The restaurant's all-day downstairs bar menu offers classic dishes with a chef-driven twist, including a number of brunch options and savoury mains. 

the dorset torontoSure to be a crowd favourite, the Hake & Chips ($28) is served with tartare sauce, mushy peas, curry sauce, and lemon to squeeze over. 

Aside from English pub classics, the restaurant places an emphasis on coastal flavours and sophisticated seafood.

"Most British restaurants in Canada focus on what I call our 'stereotype' foods like Scotch Eggs, Fish & Chips and Roast Dinner," Chef Lister told blogTO. 

"Even though we pay homage to these and highlight them in our bar at The Dorset as they are part of our heritage, we must acknowledge that true British food has much more to offer." 

the dorset torontoOn the downstairs menu, you'll also find the tuna tartare ($28) — a crunchy and pleasantly fishy delight thanks to its sesame-coated prawn toast. 

the dorset torontoTake the stairs up from the buzzing main floor, and you'll find yourself in an airy sun-kissed dining room, complete with French oak flooring, whitewash barn board walls, and a colour palette of coastal blues, sage, and pumpkin. 

the dorset torontoWith room for 60 people, the adjacent terrace and private dining space —named "The Chesil" for a beach in Dorset— features black and white checkered stone, brick walls, and classic wrought-iron garden furniture. 

If you love seafood, you'll definitely want to grab a seat in the upstairs dining room, as a significant portion of its menu is dedicated to seaside fare and coastal plates. 

the dorset torontoNestled on a bed of toasted crumpet, cucumber, and wasabi peas, the soused mackerel ($22) elevates a quintessential English teatime treat. 

the dorset torontoAnother made-to-share appetizer is the buttery roasted scallop ($24), featuring celeriac, charred cabbage, and dry cider and cucumber sauce that instantly melts in your mouth.  

Aside from seafood, the second-floor menu offers a handful of countryside plates, including the Black Angus Strip Loin ($59), accompanied by broccoli and blue cheese purée, fondant potato, beef shin stuffed onion, port jus, and cheesy crumble. 

the dorset torontoChef de Cuisine Rob Ratcliffe told blogTO that the crumble was inspired by Cheddars, a brand of baked cheese-flavoured British-style savoury biscuits that have a signature granular crumbly texture. 

Whether you're upstairs or downstairs, you have plenty of options for craft beers, wines, cocktails, as well as no and low-alcohol drinks. 

the dorset torontoMy personal favourite cocktail was the Sand Banks ($18), a nutty and tropical beverage featuring Sauza tequila, Bacardi rum, serrano pepper infused mezcal, orgeat syrup, lime, and pineapple. 

the dorset torontoIf you're looking for something more boozy and complex, try the Solitaire ($17), a smokey mix of Jim Beam bourbon, Kahlúa, Angostura Bitters, cacao bitters, and maple-spiced syrup. 

the dorset torontoIn the mood for something sweet and refreshing? The Dorchester Pimm's ($17) is another classic option, and features Dillon's selby gin, Pimm's No. 1 cup, lemon, ginger ale, and lavender-thyme. 

the dorset torontoTo cap off your meal, I highly recommend the strawberry trifle ($14), a meticulously layered treat with custard, sherry sponge, and a sweet strawberry chantilly that requires a considerable amount of self-restraint to not devour within seconds. 

In line with many of the nostalgic elements found throughout the restaurant's menus, the solero ($14) elevates a popular British ice cream mixed with exotic fruit swirls, with its own combination of mango, passion fruit, and zéphyr white chocolate. 

the dorset torontoFrom its dishes all the way through to its staff uniforms and interior decor, Chef Lister tells blogTO that the intention was always for The Dorset to stay true to what a restaurant of its calibre would be like in England. 

"I think most Canadians have an idea of what they think British food is but it doesn't represent the whole story," he explained. 

"I really hope people come into The Dorset with an open mind to learn something new about British cuisine." 

the dorset torontoThe Dorset is located at 457 Wellington Street West.

Photos by

Fareen Karim 

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