Indulge in upscale comfort food at the Windsor Arms new Gatsby lounge
From decor to dining, the Gatsby lounge is a mix of the classics with modern flare. Come for the food, stay for the entertaining and comfortable atmosphere.
Written by Holly Walker
Location: 18 St Thomas St., Toronto, ON M5S 3E7
Must-try eats: The saravia blue crab cake on a challah bun with lemon, applewood bacon, and pepperjack cheese is a delicious and indulgent midday meal. Try the avocado kale caesar with herb croutons for lighter fare.
Libations: The Hennessy maple ginger toddie (hennessy, maple syrup, ginger, rosemary), is a seasonal cocktail ideal for fall and winter months.
Where to sit so you’re in-and-out in 60 minutes: One of the cozy banquets by the window with a view of the bar and the impressive glass wine cellar.
Renovated about one year ago, the newly designed “Gatsby” dining room is adjacent to the main lobby of the Windsor Arms hotel. Inspired by the name, the room is a nod to the 1920s with decor that is both eclectic and elegant, pairing old with new. “It’s quirky but at the same time fun while also being formal because the hotel is very much upscale, and so is the restaurant,” said owner, George Friedmann in an interview with Bay Street Bull.
Wrapped in navy blue, the long dining room offers two types of seating; casual banquets, and mixed seating of taupe leather sofas and blush velvet chairs fill the area around the entrance and bar. Tucked privately near the back is an opulent dining room dressed in classic white linens, a sparkling chandelier and original Charles Patcher paintings.
While the decor gives the room an identity of its own, the space truly comes to life through banquet manager, Ben Amin’s contagious energy. The jubilant staff set the tone for your meal.
The pièce de résistance is the piano which has been played by the likes of Sir Elton John and the late great Robin Williams. An extended false piano top that doubles as a bar has been added to allow diners a unique experience of sitting piano side. “The best part is when guests choose to sit around the piano. It creates a fun atmosphere,” said Friedmann.
Diners can expect live piano every Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat nights, and on Sunday brunch.
Much like the decor, the menu is a mix of the old classics among contemporary dishes. Think upscale, comfort food. To start, try the grilled calamari with sundried tomato, leeks and balsamic reduction. If tried and true is your game, the pillowy saravia blue crab cake sandwich with smoky applewood bacon, and gooey pepper jack cheese on a toasted challah bun will hit the spot. For diners looking to try something new, the herb marinated lamb brochette with warm hummus and fennel will be an adventure for your tastebuds.
“It’s meant to provide an eclectic choice of foods at an upscale level,” said Friedmann. With various menus from bar snacks, à la carte lunch and dinner menus, a prix-fixe dinner menu, and a dedicated kosher menu, there’s a bit of everything for everyone. “If you look at our various menus that are offered here, it’s a bit of the classics combined with vegan items, and other culinary expectations of today’s era.”
The drink menu features expected fare from beer, signature and classic cocktails. But what sets the menu apart is a collection of rare aged Scotch and an impressive 10,000-bottle wine cellar that features bottles ranging from $35 all the way to $14, 000. A unique half-bottle program gives guests an option not found at many restaurants. Whether diners are there for a midday meal or a significant celebration, they’ll find a variety of drinks to toast with.