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Victor Restaurant, Toronto

Negronis on tap, design on point.

Hotel restaurants often get the short end of the proverbial chopstick, though in recent years the tides have started turning. The most successful of the lot may be those who remain true to their identity as a hotel restaurant—it shouldn’t be too niche, but must aim to please and fuel a cross-section of coming-and-going guests—while also giving a dependably delicious meal in a great (read: Instagram-worthy) room. Victor, reopened in September at Hotel le Germain Toronto Mercer Street with a fresh new face and menu, is one of those old-spots-turned-hot, following in the footsteps of the property’s 123-room redesign last year.

Victor’s rejuvenation was completed by DesignAgency, which spent about a year planning and remodelling the bar-restaurant-café hybrid into a modern interpretation of a comfortable American tavern. “We also wanted to make the space feel like a true ‘hotel’ restaurant,” explains Anwar Mekhayech, principal of DesignAgency. “[This] meant making it approachable, universal, and versatile enough to appeal to hotel guests, as well as daytime business visitors, corporate event goers and special occasion groups connected to the city’s nearby entertainment district and TIFF Bell Lightbox movie theatre.” Three different zones demarcate an intimate bar-lounge, a more casual café, and the main open-concept dining room, where a swooping, custom 700-square-foot light fixture takes centre stage, constructed from brass tubing strung with white globes. Materials like raw wood and peacock leathers—meant to patina with age—were used throughout the space for maximum cosiness.

The new menu is a carnivore’s playground—think 36-oz. Tomahawk steaks and juicy house-ground Victor Burgers—but also boasts seafood towers from the cold bar, brimming with oysters, crab, shrimp, scallops, and lobster tails. After sampling a comfort-dessert favourite like Baked Alaska, guests may purchase take-home jars of finishing salts (made using herbs grown on the rooftop garden), executive chef Lanny MacLeod’s house-made strawberry sriracha sauce, or pastry chef Martin Gouthro’s granola.

Time for just a drink? The bar blends up a mean Mercer Boulevardier, but for the first round order a Negroni on tap—they are, surprisingly, very good.

Le Germain Hotel, Toronto, 30 Mercer Street, 416 883 3431,