130 Ossington Ave
Ossington Avenue is one of those classic Toronto neighbourhoods in transition. While perhaps best known as home to the Queen Street Mental Health Centre (previously the Ontario Provincial Lunatic Asylum and now operating as CAMH), Ossington has in recent years become more of a hipster hangout: still a bit scruffy but dotted with interesting shops, bars and restaurants.
Of course, it’s only a matter of time before developers cut their inevitable swath through this still-affordable area, but at the moment there are plenty of heritage storefronts giving a glimpse into the area’s rich history. Walking through the old-fashioned glass doors of Côte de Boeuf certainly feels like a step back in time. Weathered hardwood floors, rustic shelving and a country-store feel are a nice echo from the stockyards that used to populate the avenue, as are the artisanal charcuterie, cheeses and meats on display. It’s a pleasing and evocative design shared by the butcher shop’s sister establishment, the much-celebrated Union Restaurant.
Both places are the brainchild of Teo Paul, who partnered with his brother Chasen Gillies to open Côte de Boeuf earlier this year. The inspiration for each establishment came from Paul’s five-year stint living in France’s famous City of Light.
“Teo wanted to recreate a little bit of that time he spent in Paris,” says Chris Mathias, a friend and colleague who now works in the butcher shop. “Both the restaurant and the shop reflect that and a more European feel.”
The stock is decidedly not what you’d find at your local Loblaws. There’s Scotch Mountain beef, sheep-milk yogurt, heritage chickens, some vegetable produce and a respectable artisanal soft-cheese selection. “We butcher everything on-site,” Mathias says. “Plus, we make our own terrines and confit, quince jelly and charcuterie.”
Herbs are grown at Paul’s farm outside the city, where they also smoke the duck, chicken and paprika they sell. It’s all very hands-on while still being affordable, a combination that’s becoming more prevalent downtown.
“I actually lived here before,” Mathias says. “None of this stuff was available back then. I returned after 12 years, and things had really changed. It’s definitely spearheaded by the chefs and cooks in restaurants. And I think people are travelling more and educating themselves. They want quality.”