Review: The Carbon Bar, Toronto

It was the end of January and I was power walking across University Avenue with my fingers and toes frostbitten and icicles dangling below my whiskers. As I passed the McDonald’s at Church and Queen I couldn’t help but laugh as a reporter offered passersby a free soft serve ice cream cone in hopes of getting a few outraged reactions on camera.

Bursting open the doors to The Carbon Bar I was immediately hit by a welcoming wave of warmth as I walked into the restaurants spacious dining room. I caught a flash of red through the windows which look out at Queen Street, a streetcar jolting across the city. The interior is filled with spherical illumination. The ceilings are sky high though a blanket of white orbs hovering throughout the space string together to create an intimate vibe.

Walking around the space my first thoughts were “this is going to be a fantastic TIFF party venue,” followed by, “I wonder what the history is here.” Bartender extraordinaire Brendan Piunno filled me in, “we have a private entrance out back where limo’s can easily pull up for discrete celebrity drop offs.” Later on I would find out that the building has had several iterations: once a popular record shop, legendary rock’n’roll discotheque Electric Circus and Disney studio.

I had arrived shortly after the restaurants one month anniversary and wasn’t surprised that by 7pm the space was packed to the brim. The Carbon Bar is brought to you by the culinary tycoons behind Nota Bene, offering their first relaxed-meets-refined concept for Toronto food fans.

It was a Friday night and felt it was appropriate to celebrate the end of the work week by sipping through a few cocktails. The smoked sea salt rimmed margarita’s are addictive while The Volstead offers a refreshing kick of gin with muddled cucumber and hint of lemon.

I was most enthusiastic about conquering the offerings from the kitchen and did not hesitate to march through a few appetizers which offered up an addictive munch and crunch (don’t miss out on crispy chicken skin, explosive cheese croquettes and split pea fritter dunked in pico de gallo).

A bowl of Wild Mushroom N Grits with crispy kale and deep fried egg yolk offers vegetarians a perfect bit of savoury while the Pit Master Platter, a heaving plate featuring pork ribs, beef brisket, jalapeno sausage, pulled pork and smoked turkey will have the carnivores at the table sharpening their knives with glee.

A final plate featuring a petite Banana Toffee Cream Pie offers a sweet welcome to the weekend. I was so pleased with my experience at The Carbon Bar that it now sits on my Toronto’s Top Restaurant List.

Special thanks to the team at The Carbon Bar for hosting me as their guest.

The Feast:

Hecho En Mexico Margarita

tromba tequila, st. germain, orange bitters, lime, smoked sea salt

The Volstead

hendrick’s gin, amaro montenegro, cucumber, agave, lemon, orange bitters

Crisp Chicken Skins

sweet chili vinegar

Cheese Croquettes

apple-chipotle sauce

Split Pea Fritters

pico de gallo

Queso de Cabeza

fried suckling pig, pork n beans, hen’s egg, pickled beets

“Hot Mess”

sweet potato, cheese curds, crema, pickled jalapeno, chopped brisket

Pit Master Platter

ribs, beef brisket, jalapeno sausage, pulled pork, turkey

Wild Mushroom N Grits

grits, sauteed wild mushrooms, deep fried egg yolk, crisp kale, huitlcoche dust

Banana Toffee Cream Pie


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

The Carbon Bar on Urbanspoon


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