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Bar Chef

We’ve been using World’s Best Bars to find bars when we’ve been travelling. It’s a little hit-and-miss, and you need to do some extra research before you randomly pick one. But it’s great if you’re in a place that doesn’t really use Yelp or FourSquare. We showed it to Mike and Melissa, and they laughed at a lot of the choices for Toronto. One, however, they recommended: Bar Chef.

It’s in the second-coolest neighbourhood in the world (according to Vogue) – Queen Street West. They serve fancy cocktails and want to “challenge the […] cocktail experience.” SOUNDS FUN!

Oh, it was dark inside, so most of my photos are a little grainy. Sorry.

Bar Chef placemat

We started out with two normal-ish cocktails. The Symphony No 5 was a gin/vanilla thing that was OK. The Basil Daiquiri was tasty – super-drinkable.

Symphony No. 5 and the Basil Daiquiri

These two cocktails were pretty good. However, we noticed there was a “modernist” section that had more expensive ones – some with some weird ingredients (“spring fog”? “beach essence”?).

Hampton got a $45 (!) Manhattan. It came under a giant cloche filled with smoke.

Cloche full of smoke

It rested on the table for a minute or two before the bartender came over and slowly swirled the cloche off the top of the pedestal. Underneath was the smokey Manhattan!

Manhattan

It was seriously smokey. Even though I was only sat next to Hampton, my clothes smelt like a wood fire for the next day.

The next modernist cocktail we got was the Black Truffle. It came with six tiny spoons. The spoons had a coconut foam/lime dust mixture on them. You were supposed to eat one of those, then drink the gin-based concoction. Those spoons were amazing, and they went well with the drink. The drink had elderflower in it, too, so I loved it.

Black Truffle

Next up, there was a Cedar. It came on a wood platter set up like a zen garden. There was a sprig of cedar in one corner, some cacao “soil” and chunks of pear. You dip the pear in the “soil,” and eat that before you drink. I didn’t get much from the food bit, but the drink (a gin-chamomile-pear thing) was clean and fresh.

Cedar

I think the weirdest drink of the night was the Spring Thaw. It came in a tiny glass surrounded by moss. The bartender came over and poured water (?) over the moss, and it started misting. I’m guessing there was perfumed dry ice in there somewhere – it smelled just like a spring forest.

Spring thawing all over the table

The cocktail itself was a gin-campari thing. It had a campari sorbet of some kind, and as you were drinking the sorbet melted into the rest. It’s a neat concept, but it was strange that the drink got more and more bitter as you went on.

The Spring Thaw cocktail itself

We also got a punch bowl, which I’d recommend if you’re tired of the pomp around the other cocktails.

I love any kind of ceremony or ostentation around food and drink. There’s something fun about the process – in these cases, eating something special before you drink, or smelling a fog that surrounds your glass. So I’m already inclined to like a place like this – and I did. A lot. It’s definitely not cheap, though, and certainly not a casual after-work-drinks kinda place.

9.0 / 10

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