A café and wine shop has replaced the beloved restaurant at Evergreen Brick Works

After many years in business, one of Evergreen Brick Works’ market vendors has gone in a different direction.

Cafe Belong, known for its tasty grab-and-go service as well as sit-down suppers, has been replaced by Picnic Café & Wine Shop. Though one of the founding partners of the original Cafe Belong is still heavily involved, the newly named Picnic Cafe is now owned and operated by Michael Sullivan (known to his friends as Sully), who has formerly worked in Toronto restaurants like Canoe and Victor (inside Hotel Le Germain).

Picnic Café  & Wine Bar serves sustainable, locally sourced dishes in an airy space with wraparound windows and a bar.

“When we first took over, we had the idea to return to an a la carte table service menu but I realized that it works as a café because of the foot traffic that comes down here on a  regular basis,” explained Sullivan, noting the proximity to the numerous trails and green areas surrounding Evergreen Brick Works. “People aren’t looking for a formal sit down setting, they’re looking for a café. We are instituting more of a sit down menu but in a café  environment.”

Despite the walk-up service, the food is restaurant-quality. Once diners have placed their orders, they’ll be given a table number and their food will be delivered to them. “It’s essentially table service, but without the server,” Sullivan explains. “The environment is less structured and more relaxed.”

A large chalkboard-style menu, suspended over the counter, lists the daily lunch specials, which are in constant rotation in line with the seasons. Some of these include feature pizzas, burgers, paninis, poutine, salads and soups. “We try to do as much in-house as we can,” Sullivan says, noting that the French fries are hand-cut every day.

Looking to warm up from your winter walk through Evergreen Brick Works? Picnic Cafe & Wine Shop has a selection of freshly-brewed hot drinks, including organic fair trade coffee and espresso-based favourites like the cappuccino. Specialty teas (including Niagara peach, Evergreen apple green and flowering jasmine) are also on offer, as are tea lattes (chai and London Fog). In the mood for something sweet? Fresh blueberry scones, apple caramel tarts, chocolate chunk cookies and buttermilk biscuits are just some of the treats that pair perfectly with a warm beverage.

Eventually, coffee beans will be sold in store, available to be ground and taken home, as will an assortment of local provisions. Sullivan says he also has plans to introduce a grab-and-go service by the end of February which will sell ready-to-eat take home items, like frozen meat pies and lasagnas.

Home to hundreds of wines from around the world, Sullivan says approximately one third of the space is devoted to the bottle shop. Inside, there’s seating for 80in the warmer months, the outdoor patio can seat 110 comfortably.

Picnic Cafe & Wine Shop is located at 560 Bayview Ave at Evergreen Brickworks, inside of Building 14. The grab-and-go hours are 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO