Club sandwich: dance music collective brings Berlin snacking to Kensington


A microwaved samosa the mystical 3 am hot dog poutine. What do these things have in common? At one point in your life, they seemed like one of the best things you’d ever eaten. Such is the profound relationship late night food shares with our inebriated stomachs.

In Berlin, where the definition of late night is hard to pin down, it’s the döner that wins the affection of hungry punters looking for that final night-capping bite of closure.

Friends Konrad Droeske, Nancy Chen, Thomas Masmejean and Matt Eckesnweiler, who form Toronto dance music party collective Mansion (full disclosure: I have worked for Mansion in the past), were besotted with the modest combo of spit-roasted meat, veggies and tangy garlic sauce stuffed into pressed German fladenbrot when they crossed its path in Berlin three years ago.

“After throwing parties as Mansion and Foundry, we wanted to visit the city that we were taking a lot of influence from,” Konrad says on the freshly opened patio of Otto’s Berlin Döner in Kensington Market. “We went to a number of different clubs and ended up eating all this amazing street meat.” Like the döners they serve – a Turkish dish reimagined by Germans, and now customized for Toronto diners  – the restaurant is a venture that gestated from a very different idea.

“We wanted to do a club. We knew that was the next step for us (as Mansion). Then we realized with the rules in place in Toronto, if you don’t want to be in the club district, you basically need to run it with a restaurant license,” Droeske explains, between humbly thanking guests. “We came up with the idea of having a complex, to have food there and a club, but the zoning laws say you can’t do that either. We still had this concept which was the döner, so that left us with one piece of our original concept we could execute.”

So in place of a club, a pre- and post-party palace inspired by the Berliner lifestyle was erected.

Otto’s offers the titular döner sandwich (available with veal and lamb, chicken, fried halloumi or a veggie blend called gemüse), the perennial German catnip currywurst (sausage with spiced ketchup and fries), an extensive list of German suds, and Europe’s party fuel Club Matte, from lunchtime until 3:30 am on weekends.

But what differentiates Otto’s from other late night cravings is it doesn’t come with a side sauce of regret.

“There’s a misconception that the döner is unhealthy,” explains Droeske as he serves up the döner teller, a deconstructed version served salad-style with couscous. “We’ve taken the fresher route so that people can come here for lunch and not feel like, ‘Oh I just ate a pound of meat. Jesus.’”  

Otto’s is already bustling with the crowds that made their Mansion parties so successful. Even chef Steve Nguyen (Auberge Du Pommier) previously helped the quartet promote parties, and the restaurant still evokes its owner’s love for the club. At least that’s the best way to explain their washrooms that transform into a luminous port-a-party club pumping disco or techno with the push of a button. If there were ever a cause for a “Best Washrooms in Toronto” list, this would be it.

“Do I love food more than techno?” Droeske ponders about his transition from party maven to restaurateur at the end of our meal. “I think so.” 

256 Augusta, 647-347-7713, ​Steps out front, washrooms downstairs. Licensed. | @aidanJ4U



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