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The Oxley
Food & Wine Lifestyle

The Oxley bridges fine dining and pub comfort in Toronto’s Yorkville

July 10, 2024
The Oxley Public House is a must-visit place where fine dining and casual comfort coexist in harmony

While Toronto’s upscale Yorkville neighbourhood is merely a small slice of what the city has to offer, it’s flaunted as being one of the most desirable postal codes to live in – known for its Victorian-era homes, cobblestone streets, and abundance of gourmet restaurants. Add to that its extravagant designer boutiques and engaging art galleries and museums and you can see why the area has such wide appeal.

Of course, shopping and stopping for a bite to eat go hand-in-hand, and lucky for those exploring the area, Yorkville hosts a wide variety of unique and wonderful restaurants, as previously demonstrated in VineRoutes’ list of 25 Top Ontario Restaurants, with the Yorkville area claiming multiple top selections.

Read Also: Blue Bovine Steak and Sushi House opens at Toronto’s Union Station

One spot that’s deserving of an honourable mention (if not a spot on a future updated list!) is The Oxley, which stands as an example of what a genuine gastro pub can be: a place where fine dining and casual comfort coexist in harmony, offering a dining experience that is both sophisticated and inviting.

Yes, contrary to popular belief, gastro pubs are not just a cheap and cheerful option for a quick drink and bite to eat. Rather, they can be full-service restaurants that emphasize high-quality, seasonal ingredients and impeccable service in a relaxed setting.

Atmosphere and fine dining

For over 12 years, this beloved establishment has managed to strike a delicate balance, offering a menu and atmosphere that appeal equally to gourmands and those seeking a relaxed place to unwind. The driving force behind this gastro pub is proprietor and Executive Chef Andrew Carter, whose vision and dedication have made The Oxley a standout in Toronto’s competitive dining scene.

The Oxley

The cozy and inviting interior at The Oxley. 

Upon entering The Oxley, patrons are immediately struck by the cozy, inviting atmosphere. The warm lighting and rustic wooden furnishings create a sense of intimacy and comfort, while the friendly, attentive staff make every guest feel like a valued regular. Carter acknowledges that this requires a concerted effort from the entire team.

“To maintain the relaxed environment at The Oxley, everyone employed has to play their part from the general manager to the host, from the head chef to the dishwasher. Everyone in tandem has to deliver and maintain the very best in their performance at whatever they do,” explains Carter. This dedication to service is palpable, ensuring that every visit is a memorable experience.

Central to The Oxley’s appeal is its diverse and ever-evolving menu. Updated seasonally to reflect the freshest ingredients and culinary trends, the menu showcases a range of dishes that could rival any fine dining establishment.

“When I developed the burger, it had to measure up to the Organic Arctic Char with Champagne Beurre Blanc and caviar,” Carter says, underscoring the high standards he sets for every item on the menu. This commitment to quality is evident in the rave reviews from patrons, who eagerly await seasonal favourites and new additions alike.

The Oxley

The Oxley offers a private dining and event space on its second floor.

The Oxley’s signature dishes have become legendary among its loyal clientele. While it’s difficult to highlight just a few, certain items consistently stand out, like the Harissa-Spiced Kale Salad, Hash Potatoes and Pickle Dip, and the Salmon and Crab Croquette.

“When the season changes at The Oxley, our customers are vocal about the Fish Pie going on a sabbatical until the fall, or the hint that the Kale Salad may be taken away from them,” Carter notes. This seasonal rotation ensures that there is always something new to discover, keeping the menu dynamic and exciting.

Not just beer…

Complementing the stellar food offerings is The Oxley’s impressive beverage program. With 95 labels on its wine list and over 1,200 bottles in-house, the selection is both extensive and carefully curated. The wine program, developed with the expertise of Carter’s wife, sommelier Julie Garton, has been a labour of love.

“The wine program developed with purpose over time,” says Carter. “I wanted everything to be the very best we could offer our customers.” The list features sparkling, rosé, white, and red wines, offering something for every palate and occasion.

The Oxley

The Oxley’s wine list is impressive, boasting 95 labels and over 1,200 bottles.

When selecting wines for the list, Carter prioritizes quality above all else. “There has to be a reason to offer an item on one of our menus, and starting with high quality as we do is a good starting point,” he explains. This philosophy extends to the wine pairings as well. “Due to the nature of wine, there are countless combinations you can make with food. My style of cooking has a foundation of classic French cuisine which at its very core pairs with wine,” he says. This approach allows for a flexible and enjoyable dining experience, where patrons can explore different pairings and discover new favourites.

Offerings such as the Dry Aged Muscovy Duck Breast, with dumplings and house cured bacon, pairs perfectly with a glass of 2020 Vignerons de Bel-Air Bourgogne Pinot Noir, for example. Likewise, a sublime Federspiel ‘21 Gruner Veltliner is excellent with the Manchego Crusted Brick Chicken. And don’t forget dessert. The Sticky Toffee Pudding makes for a decadent pairing with a 10-Year Tawny Port.

In addition to its impressive wine list, The Oxley boasts a robust cocktail program. “Our cocktail sales would be a quarter of our sales at the bar, so having a strong program is very important to me,” Carter says. Whether enjoyed as a pre-dinner aperitif or a post-meal nightcap, the cocktails at The Oxley are crafted with the same attention to detail as the food, ensuring a cohesive and satisfying experience. The cocktail menu, like the food menu, changes with the seasons, offering fresh and innovative options year-round.

The Oxley

Contrary to popular belief, gastro pubs are not just a cheap and cheerful option for a quick drink and bite to eat.

The Oxley’s dedication to quality extends beyond the food and drink. In the competitive dining landscape of Yorkville, Carter has employed a number of strategies to differentiate The Oxley and establish it as “the place to be.”

“Over the last 12 years, we have built a reputation of quality, value for money, and probably the most important, consistency with our customers,” Carter explains. This reputation has been earned not through flashy marketing or social media gimmicks, but through “simple hard work, and commitment to and love of hospitality.”

The challenges of maintaining relevance in today’s fast-paced, trend-driven dining scene are not lost on Carter. However, he believes that the authenticity and dedication that define The Oxley are what keep guests coming back. “In today’s world of social media, being relevant is very important to a lot of people and businesses. I hope whoever visits The Oxley for the first time, or the tenth, not only has a great time with us but experiences that love.”


The Oxley Public House
121 Yorkville Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 1C4
+1.647.348.1300
www.theoxley.com

 

– Carmelo Giardina is the principal editor at VineRoutes

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