While celebrity chef Susur Lee divides his time between international gigs-- appearing as a judge on MasterChef Asia, tending to his restaurant in Singapore-- and staying home on the range to oversee his five restaurants in Toronto, his sons, Levi and Kai Bent-Lee, are burnishing the family brand. They recently launched the newest constellation in the Lee culinary universe: Fring’s, a coolly elegant dining space that virtually overnight has become the go-to destination for Toronto’s in-crowd. At once polished and thrumming, the restaurant delivers an artful and seductive mix of glamour, grooviness and global supper-club sensibility that would be at home in London, New York or LA, but is instead prompting line-ups and jamming Instagram sites in Susur Lee’s favourite ‘hood, King Street West.
The Bent-Lee brothers, who are influential members of the family business’s management and development team, were responsible for the concept for Fring’s. The restaurant menu, also developed by the boys with input from their father, reflects the burgeoning comfort-food trend but adds a nimble whisk on world cuisine. Appetizers like Mom’s Sweet & Sour Meatballs and Chicken Sliders present mouth-watering riffs on home cooking, contemporary versions of blue-plate specials transformed by Susur Lee’s signature fusion alchemy. Some recipes were inspired by dishes that the Bent-Lee family enjoys at Sunday dinner.
The next generation has stamped Fring’s with their own hip yet sophisticated design imprimatur: local artist Kwest’s LED-strip artwork is suspended beneath the 12-foot ceiling; dramatic oval chandeliers hover above the austere azure-blue granite of the U-shaped bar. Diners who crave quieter conversation will settle into the winged armchairs upholstered in soft goat-hide in the front room, which can be sectioned off for private events. More privacy is available in the spacious green-leather demi-lune banquettes, where discreet lighting from cherry-red silk lampshades with a delicate fringe channel a New Orleans French-Quarter vibe. Later in the evening, the music volume increases and the beautiful crowd multiplies, and the party begins.