The Passenger Toronto
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The Passenger

The Passenger is the latest venture from Michelle Vella and Heather Osler, the duo behind The Beet , an organic cafe and market across the street on Dundas West.

Occupying a corner lot once home to Hakim Optical, the new spot draws on the history of The Junction for its industrial-meets-deco-inspired design, created by Marco Pekota .

The Passenger Toronto

The menu, from chef Kahle Flaherty, is set to change frequently and, when possible, sources ingredients hyper-locally from the Junction Farmers' Market. The charcuterie board ($18), for instance, offers a seasonal selection of cured delicacies from Hogtown Charcuterie. On my visit, the assortment features a generous slab of venison pate, smoked duck and grilled pork sausages, and an entourage of chutneys and pickles.

From the mains list, I try the berbere spiced chicken ($20), which features dark meat braised until the tender flesh nearly falls from the bone. Served with Israeli couscous, roasted vegetables and topped with herb-flecked labneh, it's a satisfying plate.

The Passenger

For dessert there are options like vanilla cardamom pound cake or brownies with stout ice cream, each priced at $8. The maple tarte au sucre offers a buttery, flaky shell, sweet filling, a garnish of salty bourbon-toasted pecans, and an accompanying scoop of ultra-firm whipped cream.

Passenger Toronto

The bar offers two-ounce cocktails ($12), including a whole gang of classics; Rob Roy, Moscow Mule, Sazerac, etc. I try the Boulevardier, essentially a Negroni that substitutes gin for bourbon, with lipsmacking results. Pints ($7-$7.50) are poured from a dozen local craft draughts; eight will be permanent fixtures, while four will change up frequently to feature smaller breweries and seasonal beers. The selection of bottles ($5.50-$8.50) mainly goes international.

The Passenger Toronto

The Passenger can currently accommodate about 45 guests, though pending permits could add 80 to 100 seats on a boulevard patio. Currently, the restaurant is open for dinner and drinks daily at 5pm. Sunday brunch hours will roll out in the coming weeks.

The Passenger restaurant

Photos by Jesse Milns


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