Toronto restaurant and/ore offers two magical dining experiences inspired by the earth

Eat in a Victorian greenhouse or an underground cave

Gastronomy and art converge at Toronto restaurant and/ore, whose greenhouse-inspired interiors immerse guests in an ambient 60-ft-long forest hand-painted by artists Tisha Myles and Jack Phelps.

and/ore is the much-anticipated debut restaurant from award-winning Chef Missy Hui – previously Executive Chef of the McEwan Group – and former mining engineer turned restauranteur Jaimie Donovan. Located on Queen Street West, the restaurant is conceived as a sensory journey. Hui’s culinary alchemy explores the breadth of modern Canadian cuisine and whimsical interiors, and art conjures adventure and play.

Local practice Solid Design Creative conceived the design vision for and/ore, which is divided into two unique and complementary spaces, dubbed Above Ground and Below Ground.

Above Ground is – as its name suggests – located in the upper part of the building and features a rococo forest mural with fronds and fauna and moody twilight skies that wrap the walls and ceiling of the bar and dining room. The panoramic artwork took New Love Collective artists Myles and Phelps five months to complete, using scaffolding and rigs to reach the furthest corners of the space to cocoon diners in their fantasy landscape.

Within the confines of the space, Solid Design Creative has constructed the ornate frame of a Victorian glasshouse to enclose the dining room and frame partial ‘moments’ of the expansive artwork. Furniture and lighting have a similar ‘Victoriana’ feel, with mirror panes backdropping the bar from the first floor to the second. At the same time, sumptuous and heavy velveteen armchairs in the lounge offer an intimate spot for patrons to enjoy a cocktail and the surroundings.

Lighting plays an important role in adding to the mystique: antique glass pendants hung with chains have a vintage flare and scatter delicate lilypads of light across the walls. Mirrored-glass table tops and speciality-finished furniture ‘add a touch of iridescence, reminiscent of light dancing through misty clouds,’ says the studio.

Things take an even more celestial turn up on the mezzanine levels, which ‘feels like ascending into the clouds’, says Solid. Here, Myles and Phelps’ mural shifts into a blaze of golden hour tones, emphasised by the cloudy softness of the ceiling draped in fabric.

Photography: Rick O’Brien

Above Ground’s menu features a ‘picnic’ assortment of shared plates and snacks that run the gamut from devilled eggs with crispy wantons, chilis and shallots to smoked lamb ribs in fish sauce, lime, cucumber, and chilli and burnt cabbage with brown butter, togarashi and cashew. There’s a decadent, botanically inspired cocktail menu to complement the champagne list (available by the glass).

Explains Chef Hui: ‘Modern Canadian cooking reflects the lived experience of each and every member of my team. Each chef brings their own unique perspective, palate and food history to the kitchen. We are a culturally diverse and food rich country and my menu reflects that.’

Those seeking Hui’s tasting menu can board a discreet elevator that whisks patrons through the depths of and/ore into the basement restaurant and lounge, Below Ground.

Photography: Rick O’Brien

As its name suggests, Below Ground takes inspiration from the earth and mimics an underground cave with hand-crafted plaster walls, a brushed brass-topped bar, and bronzed mirrors that trick the eye by expanding the length of the space. Overhead, a neon rope light zips its way across the cave ceiling like a bolt of electricity.

Below’s menu is similarly a departure from the upper level of the restaurant and is dedicated solely to Chef Hui’s secret tasting menu, which costs $150 per head. Everchanging offers a series of seasonal surprises that must be experienced to be believed.

1040 Queen Street W, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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