Food & Drink

The Menu at Broadview Hotel’s The Civic Celebrates Riverside’s Storied Past

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Despite its recent opening, The Civic is all about embracing the past.

Written by Jordana Colomby

Culinary giant, Erik Joyal and Executive Chef John Sinopoli are serving up dishes that were likely served over 100 years ago in the same neighbourhood. However, the food is anything but outdated.

The East End’s Treasure

Located on the ground floor of the Broadview Hotel, The Civic represents the foundation of life in Riverside. The building used to be a community hub and cycling club headquarters for the working-class crowd. In its past life, the building had nothing to do with food, but it was embedded in Toronto’s history. When Sinopoli heard the building was being redeveloped into a hotel, he reached out to developers out of the blue saying, “Hey, we don’t know what you’re going to do [with the space], but if you’re going to put a restaurant in the building, we’ve been in this neighborhood for a long time, and we’d love to have a crack at it.”

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The Civic interior. Photo courtesy of Joel Levy.

The Civic’s menu is inspired by the building itself and restaurants that existed in the old Riverside area. Sinopoli references Victorian-era staples that may have been served at the turn of the 20th century like mushroom toast, which has been modernized with house-made brioche, rich truffle butter and a creamy poached egg perched on top. Simple but never boring; basic ingredients elevated with advanced techniques and incredible local products.

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Mushroom toast on house-made brioche with truffle butter and a poached egg. Photo courtesy of Joel Levy.

It’s all about game

The menu is old-timey and nostalgic. “The braised rabbit and simple stuff like the whole roasted chicken are what we were seeing on the menus [back in the 1900s].” says Sinopoli.

The focus is also on Canadian products at the restaurant. “The Elk Chop, the Fogo Island Cod, Atlantic lobster, like pretty much all our proteins are raised as locally as possible,” he says. Much to Sinpoli’s surprise, the risks The Civic took with their menu paid off big time. Especially with the Elk: “Once you get it, and you experience it, it’s fun.”

Rabbit is another Civic delicacy on their “Birds and Game” menu. Indulge in a full braised leg of rabbit smothered in a delectable sauce and sitting atop a bed of simmering spelt, roasted radishes and carrots, and a lavender jus.

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Braised rabbit leg with roasted radishes and carrots in a lavender jus. Photo courtesy of Joel Levy.

Old libations, become new again

The drink menu pays tribute to the good ol’ days with The Civic’s Uphill Both Ways cocktail. They serve Buffalo Trace bourbon, amaro nonino, cream sherry, amontillado sherry and xocolatl mole bitters at room temperature to celebrate life in 19th century, when ice wasn’t easy to come by.

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Cocktail from The Civic. Photo courtesy of Joel Levy.

Antique atmosphere

In keeping with the theme of the restaurant, the décor reflects the city’s history. Renowned Canadian design firm, DesignAgency created a vintage vibe with a modern twist. Walking into The Civic is like stepping foot into a film noir set; each piece of furniture like a prop in an elaborate scene. Deep reds and dark woods set the tone for an elegant and glamorous dining experience. Gold-studded leather banquettes and stained wooden beams are reminiscent of the city’s past without being archaic. The antique atmosphere is inviting and familiar rather than cold and contemporary.

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The Civic restaurant in The Broadview Hotel. Photo courtesy of Joel Levy.

Accustomed to quaint neighbourhood spots, Sinopoli and his partner stepped into a whole new world when they took on The Civic. “It’s different than anything we’ve done in sheer size and scope, but also the variety and approach,” Sinopoli says. “But really we always have the same goal in mind, which is to make people feel welcome and happy.”