Oliver & Bonacini
Executive chef Ryan Lister curates a colourful menu driven by local and seasonal ingredients
Classic Canadiana finds a modern twist at Sap, Oliver & Bonacini’s 12-year-old eatery in Toronto’s downtown core. Previously named Bannock, the 4,000-plus-square-foot space at Queen and Bay rebranded in late 2021, maintaining its emphasis on highlighting Canada’s regional and cultural diversity by way of creative comfort food. “Canadian cuisine is inspired by the different cultures woven into the fabric of this country,” says executive chef Ryan Lister. “Our menu pulls from many of these cultures and emphasizes the use of locally grown ingredients—this, to me, is what truly defines Canadian comfort food.” You can still find some of Bannock’s popular dishes, originally created by O&B corporate executive chef Anthony Walsh, on Sap’s menu today, including the beloved Arcadian Court Chicken Pot Pie and Duck Poutine Pizza. Lister’s creative imprint, however, is more than evident in the funky new bar bites and playful, colour-bursting entrées.
Contact: 401 Bay St., saprestaurant.com, @saprestaurant
Neighbourhood: Old Toronto
Owners: Oliver & Bonacini Hospitality
Chef: Ryan Lister
Seating: 84-seat dining room, 36-seat lounge, plus an outdoor patio that seats 18
Accessibility: Fully accessible
Sap delivers on the decadence you’d expect from any comfort food menu, but revives the concept with a symphony of fresh, hearty ingredients that will leave diners feeling nourished. Chef Lister’s menu works and changes with the seasons, telling a story of Canada’s agricultural landscape in every bite. “We built our menu with the priority of working with 100km Foods, a food distributor in Toronto that aims to source everything within that range of the city,” says Lister. “It allows us to showcase what’s in season, support the local economy and emphasize the importance of knowing where your food comes from.” This season, Saskatoon lentils, summer squash, tender organic greens and Canadian cheddar make up some of the most popular menu items across the regular and weekend brunch menus—as well as a curated Summerlicious menu, available now through August 28.
A list of boozy and spirit-free cocktails curated by general manager Sarah Minard compliments the adventurous flavours of Sap’s food menu with a classic and down-to-earth appeal. “The food at this restaurant is very bold so you can’t have something too powerful,” says Minard. The Rosemary Tom Collins serves up gin, lime juice, soda, Sap’s signature rosemary simple syrup and a lime wedge to garnish. It’s refreshing, citrusy and approachable. In the spirit of remaining as sustainable as possible, you’ll find plenty of seasonal ingredients pulled from the food menu as inspiration for Sap’s signature drinks. “We use aquafaba instead of egg whites in our blackberry sour because it’s more readily available in our kitchen,” says Minard. “I work closely with chef Lister to determine what’s going to be in season and how that can inform our evolving cocktail list,” she adds. “At the end of the day, the more in-season ingredients you use, the better your food and drinks will taste.” A Canadian-forward draft beer and wine list round off the regional theme, from an apricot wheat ale to a crisp Niagara Chardonnay.
A room decorated in warm wood tones and a 24-foot-long Carrara marble bar complete the “cottagecore” look. Adding a dose of cosmopolitan flare, the floor-to-ceiling front windows brighten the space with views of passersby and Old City Hall, and the buzz of Eaton Centre shoppers. With dimly lit rattan light fixtures and wide-frame armchairs sporting the iconic HBC stripes, Sap is equal parts Canadian-chic and Canadian comfort food.
Click here to explore Sap and book a reservation today.
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