What's the draw?
Toronto's comfort-food king Anthony Rose has always worked by the mantra 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', and Bar Begonia – the fifth establishment he's opened up on the Dupont strip – follows the success of Rose & Sons, Big Crow, Fat Pasha and Schmaltz Appetizing, in a small space opposite the subway that has been vacant for as long as anyone can remember. Now transformed into a cozy Parisian style room, Rose serves up unfussy French sharing plates at night-owl-friendly hours (till 2am, seven nights a week).
What to drink:
The expansive bar steals the show as soon as you enter, and seeing as cocktails are no doubt the focus here, Rose has brought in some serious pedigree to build the menu in the form of Oliver Stern, former bar manager of the members-only Toronto Temperance Society. Along with an impressively long list of cocktails ranging from a classic French 75 to the ode to Hemingway with The Sun Also Rises, Stern has found a permanent home for his local, award-winning rum concoction the Catalan Cobbler – a tiki-inspired mix of rum, Don's Mix (grapefruit juice and cinnamon syrup) and dry cider. And just to make your decision that much more difficult, it has negronis and manhattans on draft.
What to eat:
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'Le Menu' is divided into eight sections to encourage grazing. It begins with petite bouchées (small bites) like gougères (a fancy French term for what's essentially a cheese puff) and classic options like olives, pommes frites and salt cod croquettes. You can try a few individual plates from the raw, tartine, foie gras and cured sections, or opt instead for Le Grand Aioli, a constantly rotating mix of cold snacks (which has garnered plenty of Instagram love since the restaurant's opening). For the dinner service, classic French mains are on offer, including a perfectly crisp and seasoned duck confit and juicy boeuf bourguignon. Save a bit of room and tuck into the daily cheese board, which comes courtesy of the Cheese Boutique, and is brought to your table and served by the ounce.
Dinner and drinks for two: around $90.
252 Dupont St; 647-352-3337; barbegonia.com