Saks Opens Massive 3-Level Flagship Restaurant [Photos]

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A three-level, 11,000 square foot restaurant has opened at Saks Fifth Avenue’s Canadian flagship. Operated by Oliver & Bonacini, the new Leña drink/dining experience occupies the southeast corner of Saks Queen Street/CF Toronto Eaton Centre, and gives Saks a desirable Yonge Street entrance. 

Leña’s main level includes a street-level 96-seat dining/bar area with an octagonal bar constructed around an original heritage pillar with backlit etched glass, floor-to-ceiling windows and original marble-paneled walls. An 86-seat dining room is located half a flight upstairs, also accessed from an entrance within Saks’ accessories hall. The lower-level features a 70-seat lounge featuring rich leathers, black stone, brass, marble accents and furnishings. The upper level features a 44-seat private dining room. The space was created by DesignAgency with a nod to South American style, while enhancing existing art deco qualities of the former Simpson’s department store’s Richmond-Yonge Street entrance. 

Chef Anthony Walsh alongside his mother-in-law, Elena and Chef Julie Marteleira. Photo by Cindy La

The concept was spearheaded by renowned Chef Anthony Walsh, paying homage to his mother-in-law, Elena. The menu showcases South American cooking with Spanish and Italian influences. “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,” said Mr. Walsh.

Leña’s kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Julie Marteleira, who’s been with Oliver & Bonacini since 2010, guiding culinary teams at the company’s Jump, Auberge du Pommier and Luma restaurants. 

Breakfast includes a variety of sweet pastries, including Medialunas, Alfajores and Palmitos (all under $5), as well as savoury Sustancia such as Breakfast 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. 

Lunch includes items such as the 12 Vegetable Escabeche ($15) with milk mayonnaise, charred and raw vegetables, 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, including a Fugazza with fior di latte, tomato and arugula ($17); and a Pan de Miga with ham, provolone and green olive pesto ($16).

Dinner includes Chef Walsh’s take on traditional entrées, such as Pollo Doña Aurora ($27) with organic chicken, laurel, lemon and saffron braise, mushrooms and potato purée; and Ricotta Cannelloni ($22) with nutmeg, green pepper tomato sauce, and Idiazabal cheese; as well as a large selection of shareable small bites including Smoked Jamon Croquetas ($12), Blistered Padrón Peppers ($10), and Salt Cod Fritters ($11).

Leña’s all-day bar features a wine list of Argentinian, Chilean and Spanish varietals; seven taps focusing on local, seasonal, craft brews; and a selection of handcrafted Latin-inspired cocktails including the Torreón ($12), a sangria named after the most popular Temple of Light above Macchu Picchu, made of fresh watermelon juice, ginger beer and Torrontés wine; the Mobranca ($12), a “Muddle-less Mojito” made of Havana Club, lime, tonic and Brancamenta, an Italian digestif known for its minty, woody and nutty flavours; and the Leña ($16), a South American take on the Old-Fashioned.

Photo of Elena near the lower-level washrooms

Leña is open for daily breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. For hours of operation or to make a reservation, visit LenaRestaurante.com or call 416.507.3378.

Saks fifth Avenue’s flagship Toronto food experience will continue this fall when Pusateri’s Fine Foods opens a 25,000 square foot Saks Food Hall this fall. The concourse-level space will feature both grocery and dining options. 

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