A casino-themed neighbourhood bar comes to King Street.
Written by Ross Dias
Location: 668 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V 1M7
Must-try eats: Order the Portuguese 1/2 chicken for a healthy portion size, and for the delectable trio of “Regulars” sauces that accompany the roasted bird and frites.
Libations: Casino-themed, get the Mahjong Margarita featuring tequila, coriander, ginger and thai bird chilli, for its spicy kick, or the Rosenthal for a sweeter taste, served with gin, elderflower, lemon bitters, and a surprise lychee in a martini glass.
Where to sit so you’re in-and-out in 60 minutes: Sit under the chandeliers and portraits of Hollywood’s best performers in the newer addition to the right of the entrance for a great view, and even better art.
Architect Antonio Tadrissi, who designed Regulars, and the space’s predecessor, Blowfish, before that, wanted to transform the space dramatically so the interior was unrecognizable from its past. Although under the same team, the two couldn’t be more different. Blowfish was a watering hole for the high heeled and high powered jet-setters, while Regulars is a casual, local joint, more apt for all Torontonians.
Regulars, in its current iteration, has more in common with Figures, its comic book-themed sister restaurant, also hosted in a former bank building. The large bar that commands the loudest attention in the dining room draws out the features of the building’s banking history. Most of the artwork was specifically sourced by Tadrissi’s team for the space, while everything else, including the pink and orange banquettes, custom-created by the architect’s studio.
Guests will find a very different menu style from Blowfish. For Regulars, the focus is on elevating the bar food patrons from around the city are already familiar with, by introducing artisan bakers and secret sauces. There’s no fluff here—just good all-Canadian food.
Start out with some tacos to share. Not only does sharing an appetizer open the table up to relaxed conversation, but the hard-shell Whitefish tacos are also really, really good. Expect to chow down all the bar food favourites, from mac and cheese lasagna with black truffle béchamel sauce and lemon ricotta, to fish and chips, battered in beer and served with waffle fries and spicy tartar sauce.
The cocktails are the most on-theme item of the menu, with cheeky nods to casino and illicit gambling history. If your palate is in the mood for adventure, try the beer sangria, with Budweiser, apples, cinnamon, cranberry and stone fruit. It’s a good idea to get a round of shooters —might I suggest the Godfather’s Son with Scotch and hazelnut liqueur— for the table as a digestif.