The Emerson: Worth the Hike to Bloordale Village
If you are a Bloordale Village local, or a connoisseur of great eats in the West End you have likely bellied up to The Emerson. This eclectic restaurant is worth the trek to Lansdowne and Bloor West if you enjoy good food, fun cocktails, friendly staff and a great ambiance.
Bloordale Village is a micro-neighbourhood known for its sleepy town day vibes and vibrant nightlife. It boasts of vintage shops, furniture stores, and fantastic ethnic food. This working-class neighbourhood has also become home to many young professionals.
The Emerson has been operating at 1279 Bloor Street West for almost five years now. One of the owners Conor Jorein was previously the head chef at The Nose in Toronto’s east end before diving into the Bloor West restaurant scene, and he has very mindfully brought his creative flair to The Emerson menu.
The open concept restaurant features hanging bicycles and ski bar shelves. The lights are dim, and candles lit as it darkens outside. The kitchen is open, and the music could be considered just a notch too loud depending on your dining preference, although I believe all these things come together harmoniously to create a hip (not to be confused with hipster), yet cosy atmosphere.
If you ask the staff what is good on the menu, you will get a long-winded answer that equates to just about everything! Their commitment to quality ingredients is demonstrated/evident in every dish. The Ontario garlic shrimp on toast is a must try appetizer. As for the mains, the crispy chicken marsala comes with raving reviews and the Ontario Trout is delicious. They also pride themselves on what regulars and staff alike refer to as a "big mac burger", but better! The Emerson is the type of place that will serve homemade pop tarts with strawberry rhubarb fresh from the garden, true story. Oh, and did I mention they also have local Ontario wine on tap!?
Best to make a reservation if you plan on swinging by on a Tuesday evening for buck-a-shuck oysters. Tuesday-Saturday they offer a different dinner feature, including steak tartar, fish and chips and surf and turf. High-top sharing tables occupy the front of the restaurant, and a long row of tables line the back half by the open kitchen. When the garage style door is open it grants natural light and accommodates street view bar seating.
The front of house staff is friendly and knowledgeable but still laid back. It is apparent they genuinely have a good time and enjoy what they do. The Emerson is a diamond in the rough in Bloordale Village. I recommend you go for the food and then stay for the atmosphere, mezcal negronis and charming staff that will make you instantly feel at home.