By Lori Bosworth
Torontonicity was invited to attend a media evening at College Street Bar in Toronto to taste their new drink and food menu on Thursday, April 10. The bar in the middle of Little Italy has been a hipster spot for several decades and remains popular with Toronto’s A-list crowd. What owner Gavin MacMillan is trying to accomplish with his latest menu revamp is to create a place that is casual and unpretentious with reasonably priced comfort foods, skilled and entertaining mixologists and engaging live entertainment.
We sat at a table at the back of the restaurant near the stage, graced by singer-guitarist Bradley Cooper (no, not that Bradley Cooper!) this evening. Within a few minutes, we were offered Grilled Cheese Sandwiches made with mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and raspberry ketchup on egg bread ($11). The combination of mozzarella cheese, raspberry and basil worked to create delicious sandwiches. Chef Joe Friday has offered up comfort food with a kick.
Now I am not usually a fan of pork, but was encouraged by my dining partner to try one of these pulled pork sliders. The buns were glazed with sugar and the pork was braised with maple and mustard aioli. This is a dish to order when you visit College Street Bar. The sweet buns complemented the pork’s bitter, salty taste and the aioli lent some spice to the sliders.
The short rib poutine ($13) features beef short ribs with smoked cheddar and house gravy on a thinly cut potato fry. This is one upscale poutine and another must-try appetizer at College Street Bar.
While we opted for non-alcoholic beverages, we did watch the mixologists perform dazzling displays including preparing the bar’s signature drink, the College Street Car. Order this one to see the daring finish to the cocktail.
Next, we were offered mac ‘n’ cheese, but this comfort food received a makeover from Chef Joe Friday. Penne with smoked gouda and bechamel sauce elevates this bar favourite to celebrity status.
Regarding the vibe at College Street Bar, it’s not a huge place, but large enough for tables to be situated at the front and along the wall across from the bar. If you are there to hear the live entertainment, you’ll definitely want to get there early to score a table closer to the back near the stage. You don’t have to get super dressed up to go to College Street Bar. Chic casual will do. It’s quite a homey place and you should feel pretty comfortable upon entering.
These delectable morsels of Hazelnut Brittle Chocolate Mousse ($6) were delicious. This mousse is not too chocolaty and super creamy, melt-in-your-mouth.
We enjoyed listening to Bradley Cooper, who performed many soft rock top 40 hits by artists such as John Mayer, The Beatles, The Lumineers and Paul Simon. Cooper is quite a talented guitarist with an exceptionally good voice. If he’s playing at the College Street Bar, I definitely recommend that you stop by. The bar features live entertainment usually on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.