Veteran restaurateur Johnny K is opening up a playpen in Toronto's east end. That's actually what he's calling his new venture: The Playpen Restaurant and Dining Lounge. The co-owner of the trendy Leslieville restaurant Tomi-Kro is partnering up with wife Laura Prentice, who will be The Playpen’s head chef, to open up a spot equally as cool as 'Kro, but completely different.
“It’s one of the first restaurants in the area,” K says of The Playpen's location at Gerard and Carlaw. “It shows that it's up and coming.”
While he's keeping mum on specific dishes for the moment, the menu will be a collaboration of items taken from places that K has worked in the past: Liberty Restaurant, Lolita’s Lust, Gus and more. Sundays will see brunch in the morning, along with a separate menu later on called “Sunday Roast.”
The different cuisines from K’s past projects, along with some new items, will come together to create a modern genre of food that he calls “city cuisine.”
“It will be food you can find in any big city. I don’t call it global or intercontinental.”
The split dining-and-lounge restaurant, designed by K, will sport a 1970s vintage feel. “[The lounge] will be like a hotel lounge with carpeting, which you don’t see in most restaurants,” he says.
The dining area will seat 100 at white table-clothed tables. The more casual lounge, which will seat 40, will have smaller tables and bar seating.
The two sections will have separate, but similar, menus. The lounge area — open from 4:30 p.m to 1:00 a.m on weekdays and 2:00 a.m on weekends — will have dishes ranging from $10 to $18. “The lounge will have the same cuisine but smaller plates, not a full dinner menu.”
The dining area — open from 6:00 p.m to 10:00 p.m on weekdays and 11:00 p.m on weekends — will be more upscale with higher prices and larger plates ($22-30).
The Playpen will open in mid-September.
The Playpen, 842 Gerard St. E.