THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED
A great way to get to know a neighbourhood is by trying out it’s restaurants and cafes. Not only do you get to check out your potential future neighbours and do a bit of people watching but also decide whether this is a place that you can pop into for a plate of something delicious on special occasions or the days when the trip to the grocery store is just not in the cards. Last Saturday I did just that, and since I’ve conquered most of Ossington Village and Queen West over the summer, it was time to venture west to discover a new neighbourhood and a new spin on the traditional at Cafe Bar Pasta.
The Scene…Located at 1588 Dundas Street West, it’s just east of Brock Ave. Nestled on the north side of the street, Cafe Bar Pasta greeted me with its red door and a wall of corks from, what I can only assume, well enjoyed wine bottles. The decor is simple, tasteful and understated. The brick walls are painted a warm white and a beautiful mural that looks like red ribbon wrapped around the room. Although simple, it is obvious that the design is well thought out giving it both chic and casual feel.
The Play-By-Play…My friends and I are seated at a large family-style or communal table at the front, and although we shared the table with another party at one point in the evening, it didn’t seem overbearing or disruptive at all, especially once the wine and drinks were served. As the selection of the wine was done by one of the owners who is also a sommelier the list is well executed, and that goes for the bar’s drink menu, as well. I, for one, fell in love with Fall In Love which is a must if you like a strong drink but still balanced with floral and aromatic hints of lavender and apple…mmm, still thinking about it.
Our waitress was great and, might I add, very patient. I appreciate whenever I get a few minutes of gab-time with my friends before I study the menu and have to commit to my meal choice. Speaking of the menu, it’s small (which is a good sign), and if you’re expecting a good old plate of pasta, you’re in for a surprise. Although the pasta is the staple (not to mention made in-house) the ingredients are definitely not ordinary. But to start off, we begin with fresh arugula salad with shaved apples, pear, spiral beets and tiger blue toasted pecan dressing which was delicious and a good start to our dinner menu selections. Also a delicious choice was the parsnip soup with manchego, lemon and herbed crumb.
And then came the pasta. The ravioli with braised short rib, white truﬄe, bone marrow, parsley and burnt orange was definitely worth the splurge. What I appreciated most was the chef’s respect for the ingredients, not to mention the table side finish of au jus and the Fred Flintstone size bone marrow on the side. But seriously, you don’t often find a pasta dish that allows the meat to truly shine and play the lead role. Here it was just enough to appreciate the combination, but not too much so that it felt overwhelming.
If you have room and you’re curious…as you should be, you should try the dessert. The list of choices is not long but prepared with the attention you would expect. We chose the strawberry and basil panna cotta and the lemon tart, which were light and equally delicious. If you would rather just have coffee, it’s served with a delicious and a generous double chocolate biscotti, so either way, you can’t lose.
The Wrap…With a name like Cafe Bar Pasta, I must admit, I didn’t know what to expect, but now I can’t wait to go back. What I liked the most was that everything from the food to the ambiance and service was orchestrated to provide a happy, laid-back vibe with a touch of elegance. The service was friendly, attentive, and very knowledgeable of the menu and the wine options. And most importantly, we did not feel that we’re being rushed at any time. I’m not a foodie and I don’t have high expectations. As long as you serve a good drink, prepare a great plate of pasta (in this case) and make me a good, strong coffee to finish off the meal, I’m a happy girl. But above that, what matters to me when I go out for a good meal with friends is not only the food, but also the atmosphere. Everyone’s lives are so busy these days and what we all really need is the perfect backdrop to a good time. For me, this was it. I’ll definitely be back to Cafe Bar Pasta for round two. This time, I’m tying the meatballs.