District 28 Bar Bistro
By Karen Lloyd

Front of House

District 28 Bar Bistro was once little more than a makeshift café patronized by a handful than neighbouring residents and businesses. Today it’s the enticing front door to District 28 Studios, an 18,000 square foot multimedia facility located which encompasses three studios a reception bar and a screening room.

“It has a really good synergy,” says Sasha Crystal, who took over the facility in 2015. After a much needed revamp, District 28 Bar Bistro re-opened under his supervision in December 2016. “We started with half of this space. This used to be their showroom and warehouse.”

While Sasha is only just new to the restaurant industry and learning, he certainly knows the entertainment business inside and out. Sasha crafted his production skills at New York Film School in New York City, and has worked in various roles in productions in the U.S., Canada and parts of Europe. Through his experience in the film industry, he discovered there was a need for a production facility that treated clients more like guests. When he came across the abandoned studio and it's tiny cafe in Leslieville, Sasha saw it as the perfect opportunity to give Toronto's film industry the kind of all-in-one hospitality experience that he says has been missing.

“I kind of spend all day running around. I’m up and down, left and right,” he says. Fortunately, he has experienced restaurant staff who have helped him take District 28 Bar Bistro from a little-known café serving sandwiches and pastries to a bigger player in Toronto’s food court.

We’re kind of almost like a neighbourhood cafeteria. - Sasha Crystal, owner

DIY Dishes

At District 28 Bar Bistro you can expect a combo of healthy dishes and comfort foods.

“You can be as healthy as you want or you can be as unhealthy as you want,” says Sasha. Try the D28 Burger on a brioche bun with bacon, caramelized onions and cheddar cheese if you’re starving or, for lighter fare, there’s the Mediterranean bowl with Israeli couscous, falafel, chickpeas, mushrooms, roasted peppers, olives, hummus and tahini.

What’s most popular, however, are the Mad Mexican with rice, beans, blackened chicken, guacamole, pico de gallo and chimichurri sauce, as well as the buddha bowl with rice noodles, crispy tofu, grilled peppers, mushrooms and golden curry sauce.

Customers can also build their own bowls and sandwiches, choosing from over two dozen ingredients and toppings – an idea, says Sasha, that ties in with the creative atmosphere of District 28 Bar Bistro. “Some people come in and do the craziest combos,” he says. “People have very creative tastes.”

Hidden Gem

Located off the beaten track, just south of Queen Street east,  District 28 Bar Bistro is truly and hidden gem in Toronto’s east end. While more and more foodies are have discovered District 28 Bar and Bistro since it opened, the restaurant is mostly buzzing with film industry professionals, nearby employees and Logan Street residents. “It isn’t a high foot traffic area. We’re kind of isolated,” says Sasha. “We’re kind of almost like a neighbourhood cafeteria.”

In addition to delicious menu and savoury cocktails (think salted caramel white Russian), District 28 Bar Bistro offers a casual space and warm invited inviting atmosphere where you can kick back, relax and enjoy some time away from the hustle and bustle of Queen Street.

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