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Parts & Labour Media Launch

In an interesting twist on the gentrification theme the Home Hardware at 1566 Queen St. West has been sold and the space converted into a bar, restaurant, event space combination called Parts & Labour.  It’s interesting (to me) because a hallmark of a neighbourhood I would like to live in is a centrally-located hardware store.  Also, it follows logically that when industrial spaces are made over into condos the new residents need a place to outfit their homes with lights and such but that is beside the point.

Thanks to an invitation from Tat Read of Knot PR I had the opportunity to attend the media launch party at Queen Street’s newest hopeful hot spot.  The packed event was fueled by a supply of cocktails that featured vodka, lime, sugar, and more vodka.

The miniature pulled pork sandwiches

It’d be foolish to try and judge a restaurant’s eventual food based on the hors d’oeuvres put out at a media launch so we’ll treat  this merely as an early preview.  There was something offered for every palette and preference, from a pulled pork mini-sandwich to crispy pig ear on a hard-boiled egg section to a deep-fried pig face croquette.  The vegetarians were pacified (I suppose, though I didn’t find any to actually ask) by a very good beet “tartare” with an apple slaw.  Those who like their protein to have lived underwater at some point were happy to find assertively-smoked trout and a station with freshly-shucked oysters from Oyster Boy.

The highlight for me was the horse tartare with a radish garnish on a crispy potato chip.  For once I didn’t have to pretend that this tasted different than beef and it can be difficult to find the right textural contrast for tartare even when you have the latitude of a plate but the potato was just right.

The menu, click for a larger view

Taking a look at the menu (click above for a larger view) I notice some very interesting options.  The braised pork belly, grilled sardines, fried pig’s face, and lamb heart tartare are the items from the Plates section that I intend to try when I go back.  From the Entrees the summer veg terrine, the braised short rib ragout and the horse tenderloin all have caught my eye.  The burger–a bit on the pricey side at eighteen bucks without fries–also warrants further investigation.

The full space. This was very early in the party--trust me, it filled up.

Those particularly concerned about the environment and local food production will be happy to hear that the restaurant’s roof features a kitchen garden.  The size and scope of the garden really makes it seem like more than just a token gesture.  Best of all, we can follow its progress because the garden has its very own blog.

The design (admittedly not my specialty) of Parts & Labour is by the team at Castor that is best known for their work at Oddfellows.  Stand-out elements are the long cafeteria-style tables and the lamps over the bar made from re-purposed fire extinguishers.  Apparently, the downstairs space with its lower ceiling will play host to punk and indie rocks bands.

One of P&L's neighbours on Queen West

This stretch of Queen West in Parkdale has Cowbell and now the residents have a more casual spot next door for enjoying a drink and a meal.  I still wonder where the hipsters will buy the compact fluorescent light bulbs for their found-art light fixtures now that the Home Hardware is a restaurant.

For more on the P&L launch see:

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3 Comments

  1. Sheryl says:

    We’ve got a hardware store further east, at Brock, so Parkdalians are all set for light bulbs and screw drivers.

    What the neighbourhood is concerned about is how this space will affect its street traffic. We really don’t need a club-going element in that part of the neighbourhood, and I’m already hearing complaints from friends who live on Sorauren Avenue.

    And while, as an old punk rocker and concert promoter, I’m always pleased to see spaces for small indie bands (especially since the Big Bop is now gone) I’ve got to say that the combo of punk bands in the basement and rich design guys running/owning the venue doesn’t seem like a great match to me.

    We’ll see how it works out, but nobody I know from the neighbourhood is especially happy about it being there.

  2. foodwithlegs says:

    Thanks for the neighbourhood perspective, Sheryl.

    Commentors on other posts raised similar concerns about how the downstairs vibe would be influenced by the profit margin watchers (and I suppose the rent) upstairs which essentially amounted to “the beer downstairs is too expensive for this to be an authentically punk/indie rock venue”.

    I wouldn’t want teenagers puking all over the sidewalks in my neighbourhood–and I’m not sure that’s going to happen here like it has with the Social. I guess when storefronts change hands the new business has to be considered relative to the other possibilities. P&L is (not yet) another Cowbell but it’s a big space and I can think of a lot worse things to go in there than this.

  3. Fiesta Farms says:

    Matty Matheson is such a great chef, he really lets the food speak for itself and doesn’t muddy up his menus with overly long lists of producers and growers. They’re doing a proper English breakfast during the World Cup, definitely worth checking out.

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