/Get Inspired/Food and Design

The Partisans-Designed Vela is King Street West’s Next Rising Star

Named for a constellation, Partisans’ newest Toronto restaurant Vela delivers luxury hotel lobby bar vibes

By Ceri Marsh
Photography by Jonathan Friedman

The latest addition to Portland Street is named after a constellation. Vela is Latin for “sails,” and refers to the Argo Navis piloted by Jason and the Argonauts. It’s a fittingly romantic name for a spot inspired by the world’s great hotel lobby bars.

mix of seating space areas at Vela restaurant in Toronto
A mix of seating space areas at the new Vela restaurant in Toronto, design by Partisans. By day, the dining room’s glowing ceiling complements natural light introduced through the heritage building’s east-facing windows.

When describing the magic of lobby bars, Partisans architect Jonathan Friedman calls them “portals,” noting that “they mark your sense of arrival to somewhere else.” Walking into the luminous 372-square-metre space, you certainly feel transported. The swirling, sculpted ceiling sets a tone that is so celestial yet earthly that you’d be excused for not guessing the work it does in creating the room’s excellent acoustics. Luxe details like seafoam leather banquettes are balanced by exposed brick walls and timber beams.

Soft lights on the bar counter at Vela Restaurant in Toronto by Partisans

The distinct zones at Vela mean a group can crowd into a curvy booth for a celebratory dinner, a couple can make a toast at the Champagne bar, and a singleton can have a casual snack and a glass of wine at the bar looking into the kitchen.

Restaurant entrance details

Owners and hospitality A-listers Amanda Bradley and Robin Goodfellow (of Alo and Bar Raval, respectively) have collaborated with executive chef Jeffrey Lapointe to create a menu that’s a blend of luxury and whimsy. A caviar sandwich goes down differently when paired with a cocktail inspired by Moe’s Tavern from The Simpsons.

Interior seatings at Vela restaurant in Toronto

After months of lockdown in Toronto, the appearance of Vela, a spot that evokes the feeling of travel, is more than welcome. VELATORONTO.COM

Exterior view of Partisans Vela Restaurant in Toronto
Vela reimagines part of the 1904 Parisian Laundry Building.

Categories: Food and Design

You may also like