An intimate setting. Strong, balanced cocktails. Flavourful, satisfying dishes made with top-notch ingredients. These are the makings of Alobar, Toronto’s new and noteworthy food and drink destination from award-winning chef Patrick Kriss.
Opened last month in a small, quiet courtyard in the city’s Yorkville neighbourhood, the elegant, 50-seat restaurant was designed by Toronto-based Commute Design. The space places visitors into three distinctive areas: a lounge, a dining room, and a bar—there’s a 25-seat patio, too, when the weather allows. “I wanted pockets of activity in the design,” says Kriss. “Everywhere you look has a vibe.”
A midtown extension of Kriss’ popular Queen Street West boîtes, Alo and Aloette, the Alobar ideation began with a focus on wine and cocktails, and later evolved to include a sizable food menu as well. “We took the idea of the bar at Alo and basically expanded it into a restaurant,” explains Kriss. “It’s a new concept; so new food, a new wine list, a new cocktail list. Nothing that we’ve ever done before.”
Alobar’s bar program was a joint effort by John Bunner and Pat Groves, who were opening bar managers at Alo and Aloette, respectively. There are always two knowledgeable bartenders on hand to prepare drinks such as the sweet Pocket Symphony, a mélange of Ketel One Citroen, strawberry Aperol, champagne gomme, and fresh lemon, and the Fruit Cup, a refreshing blend of Apertivo rosa and sparkling wine with pear and pomegranate.
“[Alobar offers] the same attention to the quality of ingredients that we do at Aloette and Alo, but done in an à la carte way,” says Kriss. Sounds simple enough—except that Alo, a tasting menu–only restaurant whose reservations are highly coveted, topped the Canada’s 100 Best Restaurants List in 2017 and 2018, and placed 94th in the prestigious World’s 50 Best Restaurants rankings this year.
Alobar rises to the challenge: from the charred tomato and pesto side to the colourful mille-feuille dessert, each dish is expertly executed using the finest of ingredients. Highlights from the wide-ranging food menu include the tender Muscovy duck flavoured with plum and star anise, Nova Scotia lobster cooked in a fragrant mix of ginger, coriander, and XO sauce, and a hamachi dish topped with Lomo Ibérico. Notably, the steak and lamb at Alobar, and a few of the seafood dishes, are cooked in a Josper charcoal oven and grill for ultra-high cooking temperatures and a flavourful finish.
One thing to keep in mind: at Alobar, portion sizes are fairly generous, meaning you may have to dine in a few times in order to experience the extent of the menu. Even if it were not for the substantial servings, Alobar’s finely crafted cuisine, cocktails, and ambiance will undoubtedly have you coming back for more.
Alobar Yorkville, 57A-162 Cumberland Street, Toronto.
Photos by Stephanie Madeira.
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