Just a few doors down from the Annex’s Harbord Room is its new sister restaurant THR&Co. (97 Harbord St., at Spadina), which will officially open for dinner tonight.
Co-owner and Harbord Room chef Cory Vitiello spoke a bit about the new venture at last night’s soft opening. The spacious restaurant (which has 62 seats as opposed to Harbord Room’s 36) is a partnership between The Harbord Room’s proprietors Dave Mitton, Chris Shiki, Vitiello, and former sous chef Curt Martin (now head chef at THR&Co.) and bar manager (and Grid Bar Star) Liz Campbell.
“The biggest problem at the Harbord Room is accommodating all the customers, because it’s so spatially limited,” says Vitiello. “We also built up a strong working relationship with our partners here, who’ve been with us since day one, and we always knew we wanted to do a project together somewhere down the line.”
A year ago the owner of Messis (the space that THR&Co. took over) told Vitiello that he was selling the restaurant and gave them first dibs at snatching it up. “We didn’t want someone else to come in and take the spot that we’d oohed and ahhed over for the last five years, so that was the catalyst to getting it going.” He describes THR&Co. as a more family-oriented, neighbourhood restaurant with lower prices (mains are in the low $20 range) and adds that it’s not meant to turn into a loud bar at night (the last dinner seating is 10 p.m.).
As for the food, it’s predominately Italian with some Spanish and North African influences scattered in (“Curt’s a big flavour guy,” says Vitiello). The kale salad comes with an unexpected twist as raw leaves are tossed in a chermoula vinaigrette with paper-thin slices of carrot, fennel, pickled goji berries, and citrus segments ($11). A side of carrots comes with dates, paroles, and maple gastrique ($6). Lamb neck osso bucco is punched up with harissa and a fried currant and pine nut gremolata ($23). There are also pizzas with toppings like nettles and ricotta ($14), crumbled merguez ($14), and buffalo mozzarella ($13), starters like beef heart tartare with a cured duck yolk ($12), and pastas, like a spicy squid ink spaghetti with a generous helping of charred squid ($13 for small, $19 for large).
The restaurant is closed on Sundays and is waiting for its patio licence. There are plans to start lunch and brunch service at the end of summer, but as of now it is dinner only.—Karon Liu