In the heart of Liberty Village, where the young, professional and affluent have made their community, Brad Moore has arrived and opened School. This brash chef has always brandished a style that is always de rigueur in Toronto. No-nonense pairing of comfort foods with fine dining is the style that has crowned him the people's master chef. This School Bakery and Cafe sits in the shadow of Lamport Stadium, and brings an impressive roster of visual and verbal puns, all playing off the idea of scho
The brick building has incredible features inherit to its former occupation as a car garage. Large garage doors slide into the ceiling to provide unparalleled access to the front patio, a second, more private patio is located on the south side of the building and is equipped with an outdoor bar and DJ booth. Inside, the chalk boards, book shelved walls and a kilt clad wait staff summon the best parts of school, which for me included dreaming of cute uniforms, drawing on the chalk board, hanging out in the parking lot, reading and eating.
Designed by Brad, the restaurant is pure entertainment! "I wanted a place that was fun," said Brad, "I didn't want to be restricted creatively with the concept or the menu." A wall of clocks are set to 3:30pm, menus arrive on lined paper fixed to clip boards and apples on every table - it's a mecca of cutesy kitsch that borders on overkill. It's cool to head to a place that has the guts to commit to a theme that isn't another Euro-chic 2.0 regurgitation of the best of Ikea.
I had to ask him, why School? "School was basically something that people could relate to," answered Brad, "I was inspired by an old photo from Singapore. When I saw it, everything just clicked. This restaurant is a place that I could tell stories without being identified with one style of cooking or ethnic cuisine."
Well thought out, the literal puns range from Detention daily from 3:30pm-7pm where resident Mixologist Moses McIntee makes alchemy with spirits to parties called Private School, a monthly event that falls on the first Friday of every month.
Even though dinner service starts on June 17th from 5pm onwards every Wednesday to Sunday. Reservations are not taken at School, it's a show up and eat sort of affair here. Although with capacity for 140 on the patios, it's slim that you won't get a seat. The food arrives plated in cast iron skillets, and by the looks of things, many other items off the menu arrive in a similar fashion. Cute.
A stack of Blueberry Buttermilk Pancakes ($11) arrive with whipped cream and maple syrup. The warm pancakes have a slight denseness that is incredibly appealing. Dotted with ample blueberries there is little need to douse in maple syrup, the natural sweetness inherit to the dish is enough for it to stand alone.
The Gooey Four Cheese Omelet ($9) arrives with a salad. When hot it is an airy light dish filled with a ridiculous amount of cheese. Hesitate for a moment and once the dish cools it become gluey - shame on me for that one. However, the first few bites I was able to sneak in still haunt me and I'm sure my friends are ready for me to shut up about it already.
On the bakery end of things, School is looking to expand their offerings. Here pies are cutie pies, cakes are baby cakes and as the offerings grow it includes banana cream and chocolate pies intended to tempt and delight.
Dining at School is a surreal experience. From populist roots, this establishment is built to entertain, visually and culinarily by drawing from common themes and comfort foods. Overall, I give it a passing grade for originality and for reminding us that sometimes it is fun to go back to School!