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You Need to Make a Reservation at Oliver & Bonacini’s Newest Restaurant ASAP

There’s a new restaurant to add to your list of must-tries – and you may want to put it at the top.

The Oliver & Bonacini stamp of approval is reason enough to get excited about Toronto’s latest night and day hotspot, Leña Restaurante.

Spanning three floors of a striking heritage building, Leña is conveniently located at the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store and was made to unite people in comforting South American-inspired goodness.

Cindy La

Designed by internationally acclaimed firm DesignAgency, the restaurant’s impressive interior spotlights South American style while highlighting the existing heritage art deco elements of the building. Floor-to-ceiling windows, zebra-tiled floors and animal wallpaper are just a few of the unique design elements you’ll find in this eclectic space.

Sitting on an iconic piece of Toronto real estate, Leña offers a busy bar (a quick hotbed for networking with some of the city’s finest), a large dining room, a lower-level lounge, and a variety of private dining spaces.

Left to right: Chef Anthony Walsh, his mother-in-law Elena, and Chef Julie Marteleira. (Cindy La)

Renowned Chef Anthony Walsh pays homage to his mother-in-law in his South American cooking, with its unique Spanish and Italian influences. Leña’s menus feature inventive takes on classic dishes rooted in family tradition.

“Leña represents the influence of the Latin table on me as a cook – from preparation, to service, through to my culinary DNA,” said Chef Walsh. “We see the food identity at Leña as an expression of matriarchal ideals at the table – an ode to the excitement and love of that style of cooking that percolates in all of us cooks.”

Working under Chef Walsh, Leña’s Executive Chef Julie Marteleira is no stranger to the O&B brand. Having led the culinary teams at Jump, Auberge du Pommier and Luma, she has been a fixture within Oliver & Bonacini since 2010.

Empanadas ($17) with poached eggs and chimichurri. (Cindy La)

Offering a fresh take on Toronto’s breakfast scene, Leña dishes up a vast harvest of breakfast spreads featuring a variety of sweet pastries. It also offers things like empanadas ($17) with poached eggs and chimichurri; Seville Orange Crepes ($14) with ricotta, toasted almonds and vincotto; and Lala’s Tortilla ($6) with Yukon Gold potatoes, Spanish onion and bay leaf.

And did we mention that their weekday breakfast service starts at 7:30am? Perfect for those want to start their workday with a hearty meal. Also, if you’re looking for a more secluded space for a quick meeting, they’ve got you covered with private and semi-private dining options.

The lunch menu includes things like the 12 Vegetable Escabeche ($15) with milk mayonnaise, charred and raw vegetables (pictured at top), and tomatillo and coriander dressing; Wellington County Butler’s Steak ($28) with grass-fed beef, fried quail eggs, sherry aïoli, chimichurri and yucca fries; and Argentinian sandwiches – a no-fail power lunch option.

Cindy La
Pollo Doña Aurora ($27) with organic chicken, laurel, lemon and saffron braise, mushrooms and potato purée. (Cindy La)

The dinner options see Chef Walsh putting his own spin on traditional entrées, like Pollo Doña Aurora ($27) with organic chicken, laurel, lemon and saffron braise, mushrooms and potato purée; and Ricotta Cannelloni ($22).

Perfect for date night, sharable small bites include Smoked Jamon Croquetas ($12), Blistered Padrón Peppers ($10), and Salt Cod Fritters ($11).

However, if you’re just looking to indulge in a damn good drink. Leña still delivers with their signature Latin-inspired twist. You can choose from a selection of Argentinian, Chilean and Spanish wines, or sip on one of their handcrafted cocktails. Our fave? The highly addictive Sangria made of fresh watermelon juice, ginger beer and Torrontés wine. If you’re more of an Old Fashioned type, the restaurant offers a South American take on the classic cocktail.

Seven taps ensure that local, seasonal craft brews flow freely, and shopping at Saks with a slight booze buzz pretty much goes hand-in-hand, right?

But don’t just take our word for it – make your reservation here.


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