Tomiko passed her CPA exam, so the whole family went to the nearby Bar Begonia to celebrate. Bar Begonia is a Parisian cocktail bar by Anthony Rose, a restaurateur who has several restaurants along Dupont St (as well as other neighbourhoods) in Toronto. The building is a weird, almost ziggurat shape that has been empty for almost 20 years, and we were excited to hear that Anthony Rose would be taking it over and expanding his restaurant empire. We would love to return in the summer to take advantage of the backyard boules court while sipping summer cocktails.
Our group of seven arrived at 4pm, so it was still light out and we could still have the evening to ourselves if we wanted. At this time, they were still serving the brunch menu and the dinner menu didn’t start til 5pm, but we didn’t care. The appetizer menu was full of classic French fare but executed with a twist. We skipped the dinner menu and mostly shared a medley of appetizers.
The bartenders mixed drinks in glass beakers!
The place was almost empty – possibly because we were there at 4pm on a Saturday, or perhaps because there was 10 cm of snow outside.
I ordered the Something Borrowed cocktail, which is a fruity mixture of pisco, concord grape, lemon, sparkling wine, and absinthe.
Ryan ordered the Ronald Clayton, a beverage made of vanilla-infused Lot 40 Canadian whisky, rum tobacco syrup, and maple bitters, and created by Dave Mitton of The Harbord Room (a former restaurant in Toronto).
Bar Begonia serves the cocktails over one large clear cube of ice, which is enough to chill the drink and look beautiful but without diluting the cocktail. They also have two cocktails ‘on tap,’ meaning they’ve got vats of Manhattans and Negronis under the bar and ready to serve – a sure sign that these are two of the most popular beverages on the menu.
So many of our cookbooks have recipes for gougeres, little French cheese puffs. These were delicate little choux pastries that are cheese-flavoured rather than sweet (like profiteroles), but were very moreish. All but one were gone before I could get my camera out!
Ryan was hungry and ordered the eggs benedict off Bar Begonia’s brunch menu. It was served with browned butter hollandaise, which tasted phenomenal. Why have we never thought to try that? It totally elevated the whole dish and made it stand out from those offered at any of Toronto’s brunch places.
Our group ordered a dish of pommes frites with aioli.
Our mom always love French onion soup (especially if it tastes, to her, like German French onion soup). This one was not too heavy and full of umami flavour.
The table shared a dish of tuna tartare nicoise, a take on a classic salade nicoise served with a few gherkins.
I’ve read about salade lyonnaise in David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen and wanted to try it ever since. Here the salad was served with chunky lardons and a poached egg.
We also shared a Brussels sprouts gratin, which was topped with crunchy croutons. Our group also split a croque monsieur, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich that was served with a grainy mustard.
Tomiko ordered the Goodbye Ruby which was like a salad cocktail. The strip of cucumber added a fresh aroma every time you went to sip on this drink flavoured with pepper cordial. Both of us thought this slightly sweet yet vegetal beverage was the best cocktail by far!
Visit Bar Begonia:
252 Dupont St.
Toronto, ON M5R 1V7