Review: Lobby Bar at The Thompson, Toronto

On Friday February 8th Toronto was in blizzard induced lockdown.

It seemed as though the majority of my friends were working from home, children (and their teachers) rejoiced a la snow day excitement and Netflix was rightfully abused. The storm started the night before, spinning powder throughout the city. The weather network was warning us all to stay inside and avoid the roads. People were freaking out. I opted to get out of the house and spent my Thursday evening at the Thompson Hotel Lobby Bar for the launch of Grey Goose Cherry Noir. I remember waiting for the King Streetcar with my eyes crossed just after midnight as puffy flakes of snow blanketed the street.

The following morning I woke up in shock. I pulled back my curtains and could barely see out my window. The entire city appeared to be covered in icing sugar. My sister Amy arrived at my apartment shortly after 3pm, bursting through the door shrill from the cold. She had apparently run from Wellesley Station to my apartment and slipped as she pranced over a three foot tall snow bank. She spent  20 minutes waving my hair blower across her bum in an attempt to dry herself off post tumble.

I had not left my apartment all day so was rather dreading the notion of hopping on the TTC in rush hour traffic. The subway platform was covered in slush. At St Andrew’s Station it took an erroneous amount of time to catch a streetcar. Finally we squeezed onto a jam packed tram like a pack of sardines then hopped off at Bathurst Street and ran for our lives. We burst through the doors of the Thompson Hotel with the screech of the storm dead in our wake, huffing and puffing, we were a right frazzled mess.

I was amazed to see how the Lobby Bar had so quickly transformed over night, from a room which had been full of hundreds of night hawks into a mid-afternoon chill zone. One guest typed away on her laptop while others nibbled on spiced almonds and sipped on pints of foamy beer. We met with a member of the Thompson Food & Beverage team who whisked us over to a comfy couch. The Lobby Bar offers a dichotomy of dining opportunities which are pulled from The Thompson Diner and Scarpetta restaurant concepts.  Guests have the opportunity to snack on comfort grub from The Diner or indulge in the more refined Italian offerings at Scarpetta.

Bartenders offer complimentary nibbles featuring a bowl of house made spiced potato chips and almonds. My sister and I clinked glasses and cheersed in celebration of her new job which would have her moving in April to Vancouver. Beverage highlights included two thirst quenching fruity cocktails The Elderflower (belvedere, elderflower liqueur, raspberry, ice imperial moet) and Basil Lemonade (belvedere, basil syrup, lemon juice, soda water).

I was peckish for Italian inspirations and Scarpetta’s iconic creamy polenta with fricasee of truffled mushrooms was a delight on a cold winters eve. The Chef popped by and insisted we sample one of his pasta dishes, a beautiful plate of Agnolotti filled with shortrib and bone marrow. A hearty and comforting finish before bundling up in our jackets and jumping into a cab which swerved up Bathurst Street bound for Kensington Market.

Special thanks to the Thompson team for hosting me as their guest.

We sampled (* notes my favourites):

Maple Manhattan

rye, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, maple syrup, bitters

Lavender Sidecar

hennessey black, triple sec, lavender, bitters, lemon

Elderflower *

belvedere, elderflower liqueur, raspberry, ice imperial moet

Basil Lemonade *

belvedere, basil syrup, lemon juice, soda water


Thompson Beef Sliders

gruyere, sauteed onion, chipotle mayo

Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich

cured and sliced beef brisket on caraway rye bun with fries


olio de zensero and pickled red onion

Braised Short Ribs of Beef

vegetable and farro risotto

Creamy Polenta *

fricasee of truffled mushrooms

Agnolotti dal Plin *

shortrib and bone marrow with pickled mustard seeds

#433 restaurant reviewed in Ontario since moving to Toronto in 2010. 

Thompson Hotel on Urbanspoon

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