Bar Hop Brewco
Toronto, ON M5V 2H3
In Toronto, beer is not simply a cheap beverage that comes in a can, consumed solely for inebriation and paired with a delivery pizza. No. In this city, barley and hops are meticulously brewed with zeal to produce something unique. It’s called “craft beer” and Bar Hop Brewco is a testament to this.
“Craft beer drinkers aren’t college beer drinkers. It’s a refined palate,” says Chef Mark Cutrara, formerly of Parkdale’s now-defunct Cowbell and a stint at Concession Road. Known for his background in locavore and nose-to-tail cuisine, Cutrara has brought a curated menu of thoughtfully-paired plates to Bar Hop’s second location. With owner/partner Robert Pingitore, there’s an unparalleled expertise in beer. Rather than providing the standard hamburger or fish and chips, they believe guests should dine on sweetbreads deep-fried in clarified butter, washed down with a local IPA.
Chef Mark Cutrara, known for helping introduce Toronto to nose-to-tail eating while he owned Cowbell, leads the kitchen at Bar Hop Brewco. (IMAGE: OLA MAZZUCA)
What used to be the three-storey, 350-seat home to a slew of ever-changing nightclubs (OhSo, Reign), is now an establishment to house the overflow of Bar Hop’s parent location at 391 King St. W. The first floor is open for business, and the vibe is warm and welcoming. The romantically-lit interior features long communal wood table tops, bar stools and barrel lampshades. There are 36 beers on tap, with draught selections updated weekly, and 1,200 litres of Amsterdam’s saison (a light ale aged anywhere between six months to two years) available for vertical tastings.
This Thick Cut Bacon Steak is Argentenian-inspired, topped with fried quail egg and tangy chimichurri. (IMAGE: OLA MAZZUCA)
At the dinner table, items are divided by tapas, salads and sandwiches, and small to large entrees that are meant for sharing. The Shaved Fennel & Apple Salad, is a bright, crisp way to begin (aged cheddar fritters, pistachios, apple cider vinaigrette) before indulging in the acquired tastes of House-made Giardiniera Pickles paired with Kensington Market’s Blackbird Baking Co. bread and cultured butter from Société-Orignal. Fresh Cold Smoked Trout crostini is topped off with crunchy, fried capers, while Argentina inspires the Thick Cut Bacon Steak with a fried egg and chimichurri. Upscale bar snacks include plump, Scotch Olives stuffed with Italian sausage and spicy pimento cheese and the Seared Digby Scallops with chorizo and sherry butter sauce.
Cutrara’s top pick is the Pig’s Head Nachos — an innovative rendition that’s an edible piece of art. He enjoys it with a pint of Great Lakes Brewery’s brand new Maniacal Hopshop — a fruity, bitter IPA that cuts through the fats. All pork and dry-aged beef are sourced from Heritage Farms, while the Mennonite chicken comes whole-roasted on a board, dressed with buttery brussels sprouts. Order this just for the side “Trini hot sauce” — the chef’s nostalgic interpretation of a mandatory condiment ordered with post-work chicken wings at the former Mitzi’s Sister in Parkdale.
A dark stout from breweries like Dieu du Ciel! or County Durham are perfect for fall. (IMAGE: OLA MAZZUCA)
On tap, Pingitore is pouring Great Lakes Brewery’s Chill Winston Grisette, a light and refreshing saison/farmhouse ale. Local favourites from Collingwood and Left Field Brewery to Quebec’s renowned Dieu du Ciel! and Trou du Diable are also available.
As the seasons change and cold weather creeps in, Bar Hop Brewco is a warm embrace for this transition: whether it’s the ABV levels rising, piping hot food, or the company you’re with, it’s a much-needed stomping ground for those with a penchant for their pints.
Bar Hop’s second home had more than one first life as a nightclub. (IMAGE: OLA MAZZUCA)
Published on: Oct 20, 2015