Eclectic Chic: The Guild Restaurant


by Nellie Chen

A light flurry had begun on a dreary Tuesday night, as I made my way to The Guild Restaurant.  Located in the heart of the Dundas West neighbourhood and set amidst a recent explosion of hipster restos and bars, The Guild offers a place to relax and enjoy simple but refined Canadian food.

What a relief from the cold it was to be served the a swanky, home-made version of a “Dark and Stormy”, except in Guild lingo, it’s called “Mother’s Tough Love”.  Gosling’s Dark Rum infused with a concoction of house-made ginger beer.  Oh, did I mention that many of The Guild’s ingredients are house-made?

The-Guild-IMG_2 (Warm Olive Bread)

Warm olive bread

Our dinner began with warm (house-made) olive bread, soft and airy, like that of focaccia; sharply salty and savory, unlike that of traditional focaccia.  Such subtle differences are what set The Guild apart, its brainchild Chef Mani Binelli is known of these small and unique details.

The-Guild-IMG_3 (Aged Balsamic Marinated Tomato Salad)

Aged balsamic marinated tomato salad

To my surprise, the simple Balsamic Marinated Tomato Salad was a genuine highlight, and it truly exemplifies the ardent attention paid by the Chef to his food.  The dish was served on a bed of delicately sliced arugula salad, with jeweled balsamic tomatoes, and topped with a dollop of fresh, warm, melt-in-your-mouth Quebec goat cheese.  Each ingredient seemed to have undergone the royal treatment, but together, they still maintained their humble simplicity.  Chef Binelli plays off these nuances in his dishes masterfully.

Taking a little break from the food….it’s worthwhile to note the delightful pages of Larousse Gastronomique that line The Guild’s bathroom walls, and the rolls of fresh hand towels (yes, terrycloth towels!) that stock the sink side.
The-Guild-IMG_4 (Washroom Interior)

Back to the food….some other notable dishes included Seared Omega Pork Belly, Curvy Rigatoni with Smoked Chicken, and Wellington County Skirt Steak.  Whether it’s the distinctively smoked chicken that made the pasta dish or the purple potato celery mash that complemented the perfectly cooked skirt steak, many of these unassuming elements packed extra punches in the otherwise classic entrees.

The-Guild-IMG_5 (Seared Omega Pork Belly)

Seared omega pork belly

The-Guild-IMG_6 (Curvy Rigatoni)

Curvy rigatoni

The-Guild-IMG_7 (Wellington County Skirt Steak)

Wellington county skirt steak

It’s easy to perceive Chef Binelli’s passion not only in the food of The Guild, but also everywhere in the restaurant décor.  From the ornate, embossed tin-tiled ceiling to the rustic extensive dining table, made from a 130-year-old barn that the Chef himself helped to take down, the Guild offers a casual elegance that is both relaxing and unpretentious.  Forgetting your day’s trouble with a “Mother’s Tough Love”, expect to enjoy familiar and but contemporary local fares along with it.

Chef Mani Binelli

Chef Mani Binelli

Always eclectic. Forever sophisticated. The Guild Restaurant.

Top Personal Picks:
Balsamic Marinate Tomato Salad
Wellington County Skirt Steak
Any cocktails with rum or bourbon

The Guild Restaurant
1442 Dundas West
Toronto, ON

For more info visit

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