Parts and Labour is a new edition to the Parkdale Queen West Hood which has been getting a lot of attention recently. The space was a hardware store for years and the new owners decided to keep the Pro Hardware sign and integrate the buildings history into the title (Parts and Labor) as well as the interiors design (industrial: think industrial fluorescent lighting and screwed bar stools). It opened in the summer in the height of the FIFA World Cup madness. A two minute walk from my house I popped in on some blisteringly hot day to find the space full of football fans. I decided to visit properly once the Cup Craziness had ended so I could enjoy the restaurants true ambiance.
So, in September I decided to head to P and L with a few of my friends to check it out. The restaurant is owned by the guys who brought Toronto The Social and Oddfellows. There has been a lot of yammering in local newspapers, food blogs and Toronto Life about whether Parts and Labor has done something right, or horribly wrong.
Two Toronto Life food writers have written about the restaurant. Apparently the owners bought the space with the intention of opening another bar but were later told by the city that they had to serve food (would not give them a full liquor license as a drinking establishment). One critic panned the place likening the dinning experience to being punished for eating. Many have commented on the restaurants large roll away tables, dim lighting and excessively loud music as obnoxious. Others have also hated on the restaurants risky French dishes as being poorly executed and inedible. Other critics have been a bit more positive stating they liked the unique bar/restaurant concept, playful menu and art house hipster crowd.
Since I myself am a critic I will state the following. Several of my friends had already been to the restaurant and I had never heard one of them rave about it. There was no “you HAVE to go here.” A lot of “comme ci comme ca.” The restaurant space is funky and apparently the owners will be hosting a lot of art projects and installations here which will bring a much needed infusion of artistry to a rather stale neighbourhood. I actually enjoyed the larger tables but the music blasting through the room made it almost impossible for me to hear what people at the table were saying. Erica tried to order three beverages which they could not make (they did not have Malibu rum, Amarula or Peach Schnapps). It was sort of laughable as the space has a huge flat top bar with what seems like endless bottles of booze. “And they can’t even make a fuzzy naval?” Inexcusable.
Two dishes were ordered at the table. Both were delicious but a bit overpriced. Apparently half of the menu is iffy so its a bit of a mystery dinner if you chose to go for a full three course fiesta.
Fried pigs face, sauce gribiche, caper berries, mustard pickles, demi
Candy Plate: toasted marshmallows, peppermint patties, peanutbutter cups, candied orange peels
#96 restaurant reviewed in Ontario since moving to Toronto in 2010.