Inside the Drake’s massive new Sterling Road location
Drake Commissary packs a restaurant, store, bar, takeout counter and catering kitchen into 8,000 square feet
By Natalia Manzocco
Jun 7, 2017
DRAKE COMMISSARY (128 Sterling, at Perth) Access: eight steps at front door (accessible separate entrance), washrooms on main floor. See listing.
Leave it to the Drake Hotel to open the most stylish prep facility in town.
The 8,000-square-foot Drake Commissary, opening Monday, June 12 in the Junction Triangle, encompasses a swank teal-accented dining room packed with custom work from local artists, lounges decked out in vintage furniture, a café and bar area, a marble takeout counter and a food shop stocked with house-made goodies.
Oh yeah, and there’s a massive kitchen packed with state-of-the-art gear that will soon channel food to all of the Drake’s properties – which was, chef Ted Corrado notes, the reason this grand project was conceived in the first place.
“When [Drake chief development officer] Bill Simpson interviewed at Drake One Fifty to take this job, he was telling me about all the new projects coming online, and as I processed it, I was like, ‘You’re gonna need a commissary kitchen.’ He was like ‘Sure, sign the papers, let’s go.’ And here we are, five years later – we’ve got a proper kitchen to do all the things I dreamed of doing.”
A few days before opening, the Commissary kitchen, which spans the west wall of the facility, is already abuzz with life, pumping out loaves of bread by the dozen in an impressive four-door oven (the Drake supplies clients like Carver and the Tempered Room as well as its own restaurants) and prepping orders for their brand-spanking-new catering division.
“We launched catering a couple months ago, and we already have a ton of interest – we did the Power Ball, Field Trip VIP. We hit the ground running,” Corrado says.
The kitchen is divided from the dining room by a huge window, and diners can even perch at a bar that runs along the length of the prep facility to watch the action.
“We want people to experience the kitchen while they’re eating, to see where their food came from,” Corrado says. “To sort of cross that barrier and get to know how real food is made is the whole underlying theme of the place.”
The new space will no doubt shift the takeout-buying habits of the Junction Triangle, but the Drake’s kitchens, from Queen West to Prince Edward County, will all feel its impact. Here they can prep batches of syrups for the Drake’s bar program, experiment with their new ice cream machine, brine buckets of briskets or age what Corrado estimates to be roughly 2,000 kg of charcuterie.
“We’re just getting in here, figuring out how far we can take it,” Corrado says.
“When I stand here, in this kitchen – two weeks ago, it was really sterile, all stainless and white. But now it’s just full of life. We’ve managed to use every inch of space already.
“I don’t wanna say we’re outgrowing it, but…”
Below, a closer look at some of the Commissary’s dishes and design features.
The Drake brought designer John Tong of +tongtong and art curator Mia Nielsen back on board to design the Commissary space, which is infused with hits of sea green and decorated with work from local artists, including Maxwell N. Burnstein and Adrian Esparza. Artist Alex McLeod created the miniature landscape in the mural that spans the dining room with 3D rendering software.
Danish smorrebrod sandwiches (with pickled herring and beets, left, and avocado, salt cod and trout roe) are a feature in the sandwich case.
“Ted’s Lasagna”, with fior di latte, basil and parmesan, is one of the rotating hot food items.
House-smoked, slow-roasted brisket comes with grainy mustard and house-baked sourdough.
The drink menu at the Commissary bar includes a selection of cocktails created by the Drake’s baristas, including the Ginger Rogers with Lot 40 whiskey, strawberry, rhubarb honey, ginger and lemon.
The “larder” area features packaged versions of the Drake’s food products.
Charcuterie comes courtesy of the Commissary’s brand-new aging room.
The Commissary kitchen will also periodically host cooking classes.
Natalia came to NOW as the food writer in 2015 before taking over the lifestyle desk in 2019. She has written about food, style, technology, life and travel for the National Post, Sun Media, blogTO and Metro. She enjoys thrift stores and bad puns.