By Paula Roy –
If you’ve ever felt a yearning to recreate the sights, smells, sounds or tastes of a favourite holiday experience once you’re back home, then you’ll appreciate the spirit behind Lexington Smokehouse & Bar, Westboro’s newest eatery. Owners Roc Strasbourg and Tom Christie named their new spot after a favourite town in North Carolina, with the intention of capturing the atmosphere and energy of several destinations they’ve really enjoyed visiting.
“We’re nerds for all things Southern and truly passionate about the traditional Southern smokehouse food and vibe,” he admits.
Renovating the Richmond Road space that was the longtime home of Puzzles, followed by the Corner Bar and Grill, was a significant undertaking, but one that has yielded dramatic results. The team designed the décor themselves, leaning heavily on the chic industrial vibe so popular now, softening it with lightly distressed wood and pops of dark teal on the chairs and banquettes. Copper accents glow behind the bar and white-painted brick lightens the formerly dark space. Garage-style windows overlooking Richmond Road will serve to bring the outdoors in during warm weather, as well as beckoning patrons in off the street.
Both Tom and Roc are leveraging numerous years of restaurant experience with this venture, yet count themselves as fortunate to have recruited Chef Thomas Painer to head their kitchen. Roc credits him as the mastermind behind their comprehensive yet concise menu.
“Chef Tom has opened numerous other places and is really the backbone of our business model. The style of food he has developed for us to serve in our welcoming, casual space is delicious and comes at an accessible price point, but with a high end feel thanks to beautiful plating. True to our commitment to supporting local suppliers, from Orangerie Floral to craft breweries and more, Chef is sourcing the majority of his ingredients locally and making everything from scratch, in-house, including biscuits, buns, sauces, jams, pickles, desserts and more.”
There’s something for everyone on the menu at Lexington, including tempting snacks, salads, barbeque sharing trays – think charcuterie boards but with a Southern twist – and a range of delicious main dishes. Roc says the St. Louis cut ribs, glazed with a house-made peach chutney, are among his favourites, along with the fried green tomatoes and the creative sandwich offerings. He notes that the menu includes lots of gluten-free options, as well as dairy free and vegetarian selections. Sure to be popular is The Casserole, with smoked tofu, Brussels sprouts, blistered tomatoes, charred onion, sweet potato and corn.
To complement the food, there’s a good selection of wines, including some higher end bottles, as well as creative cocktails and craft beer. With thirteen beers on tap, you’ll find many local favourites as well as a curated selection from across the province, including a very food-friendly sour beer from Collective Arts Brewing. The wine list focuses primarily on North American vineyards, with some appealing choices from Oregon and Niagara, along with some organic and unfiltered options.
Roc notes that the decision to locate in Westboro was an easy one. “We found ourselves spending a lot of time in this neighbourhood as we’re good friends with people at Pure Kitchen,” he says. “We’ve grown to love the sense of community and like that there’s a lot of foot traffic including in the evenings. We want to become people’s favourite local spot as well as being a destination for those across the city looking for great food and drink plus good value and a fun environment. Our kitchen will stay open late, which we think will be appreciated. We’re even curating some fun playlists including indie folk and cool alternative music to emphasize our Southern vibe, shifting later in the evening to classic Southern rock, older R&B and more.”
At this time, Lexington will initially offer dinner only, but there are plans to add lunch service later on. “Ours is such a prep-intensive menu that this will give staff time to get fully up to speed. We’re looking forward to adding menu specials and holding some fun events, as well as participating in Westboro’s FUSE festival in August.”