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Inside Leña Restaurante: Toronto’s opulent Art Deco dining spot

Art Deco and Argentine flavours infuse inside Toronto restaurant Leña.

Chef Anthony Walsh’s latest dining spot is a culinary homage to his Argentinian mother-in-law, who lends her name to the venue. It occupies 10,500 sq ft space in the corner of the Saks Fifth Avenue department store in the city’s Financial District – a heritage-listed Art Deco building with pedigree.

Lena restaurant in Toronto
Photography: Nikolas Koenig

‘The design had to navigate the historically protected features of the space – an asset in their beauty, but also posing certain challenges to the interior design because we couldn’t actually touch ceilings, walls or floors,’ says Matt Davis, co-founder of DesignAgency which crafted its interiors.

Original stained glass, a grand marble staircase and rich copper cornices set the tone for DesignAgency’s interventions in the four-storey space, the most dramatic of which is the octagonal marble and olive wood bar that fills Leña Restaurante’s street-level.

Lena restaurant in Toronto
Photography: Nikolas Koenig

Wrapped around a historic pylon, it is etched with Art Deco motifs and topped by a cascading teardrop light fixture. Leather and velvet booths continue the sumptuous layering, contrasting with the restaurant’s richly patterned floor tiles.

A level below, Bar Lala offers a more intimate drinking and dining experience. Here marble and brass accents continue the Art Deco theme, accompanied by heavy velvet drapes and book-lined shelves behind the bar.

Lena restaurant in Toronto
Photography: Nikolas Koenig

Upper floors are given over to more traditional dining rooms with a homely bent, where dishes including gaucho empanadas and yellowtail ceviche can be enjoyed.

Leña Restaurante is the 15th opening for Canadian hospitality group Oliver & Bonacini.

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