The words “King West supper club” may evoke images of bottle-serviced babes and the dudes trying to get them in the sack, but the people behind the neighbourhood’s newest resto-venue won’t forsake the fine-dining half of the equation.
Read in the same sentence, the words “King West” and “supper club” have a very distinct connotation—specifically, that of a darkly light, plush dining room shoved in the basement of a century old industrial warehouse, with over-manicured, hyper-stylized patrons sipping on expensive, watered-down drinks, dancing till well past last call in hopes of finding someone to take home. As such, when news broke that a resto-lounge called Bloke & 4th was opening near the corner of King and Spadina, many were quick to write it off as another run-of-the-mill nightclub. The difference this time is that the brains behind the operation are well aware of the assumptions preemptively placed upon them and, while Bloke & 4th may not be quite the King West game changer they imagined, it might just subvert the expectations of its stereotyping critics.
“We wanted to do something that Toronto hasn’t seen before,” says front-of-house manager Adam Minster. “There are supper clubs out there, but we felt that there are no supper clubs that nail down both the club aspect and the restaurant aspect.”
A joint venture between high-end caterers The Food Dudes, nightclub promoters Something & Monroe and entrepreneur Steve Georgiev, Bloke & 4th certainly looks like a typical King West club—the space is decorated in shades of midnight blue and crimson, and decked out with plush booths, velvet curtains, exposed brick walls and dark wood tables. But the approach to food and drink is, in fact, unlike what’s seen in many of the nearby watering holes. Thanks in large part to head chef/Food Dude Adrian Niman—who came up through the ranks under Mark McEwan at North 44 before training at the Michelin star–rated Reads Hotel in Mallorca, Spain—Bloke & 4th is committed to using local and organic ingredients and doing everything the hard way.
“We’re trying to break those connotations associated with a supper club by focussing on the quality of the food,” says Niman. The menu is divided into social apps (for sharing), mains and desserts, and is as diverse as the neighbourhoods of this city. Pan-Asian influences abound, and both Niman and his mixologist Jeremy Browes play around with molecular gastronomy for their concoctions. The 10 sharing platters come on custom-made burl-wood platters, and might just be the restaurant’s selling point for revelers starting the party on King West.
Some of the highlights include a charcuterie plate with sweet, melt-in-your-mouth house-cured bacon, thick slices of salty duck proscuitto and a crunchy tomato toast; mini nori-infused waffle cones that are loaded up with salmon and tuna tartare and topped with ginger green apple; and a dense mini braised brisket sandwich on a brioche bun with tiny beer-battered onion rings. The half dozen mains on the menu, while pricey at nearly $30 each, further build upon Niman’s signature cross-genre cooking, with the Bangkok slaw (featuring slabs of rare seared tuna and crispy calamari) and pan-roasted scallop on a bed of oxtail risotto among the highlights.
For the past month and a half, Bloke & 4th have been holding a series of soft openings, ironing out the kinks and making sure service was up to snuff before last night’s official launch. According to Minster, things have generally been going well, though there have been a few timing issues when the restaurant turns into a club later in the evening. Bloke & 4th has already proved to be successful in attracting hard-partying night owls; so long as Niman and his team are able to lure patrons in with the food, this King West haunt should have more success than its predecessor, the short-lived Montreal export M;brgr.