The owner of BarChef just opened a UK-inspired bar with upscale house party vibes

Exciting news for regulars of BarChef and Prequel and Co. Apothecary! The team behind these iconic spaces is now bringing their renowned style and storytelling to their latest opening on Dundas Street West.

Though featuring a distinctive cocktail program with unique bitters and syrups, COMPTON AVE. follows in the footsteps of its predecessors. It promises an immersive experience of food, drink and atmosphere, transporting you from Toronto to another time and place.

Named after an affluent street in northern London, England, this cocktail bar boasts authentic paintings dating back to the 1800s adorning its walls. The pièce de résistance behind the bar is the 1855 painting ‘Portrait of A Lady in Black’ by Austrian artist Heinrich Hollpein. This original artwork served as the inspiration for the space, influencing every detail, from the chandeliers and candlesticks to the bartenders’ attire in white collars and suit vests.

Owners Frankie Solarik and Kurt Tissera@barcomptonave/Instagram

While COMPTON AVE. draws inspiration from the UK, it exudes an approachable vibe rather than a stuffy or ‘posh’ atmosphere often associated with English cocktail lounges. The presence of a knocker on the door beside the mailbox lends a welcoming touch, making guests feel as though they’re stepping into an affluent house party on Compton Street rather than a pretentious bar. 

“My intention with all the spaces is to create an emotional response for our guests,” says Frankie Solarik, of Netflix’s Drink Masters and who owns the space alongside Kurt Tissera. “As with any type of artistic expression, the main goal as an artist is always to convey some emotion in the viewer or the listener.  In our case, it’s our guests that are joining us.”

As with the space itself, and in line with Solarik’s reputation, the menus at COMPTON AVE. showcase the same meticulous attention to detail and signature approach.

@monicasnap/Instagram

The adaptations to classic martinis, like the Smoked Olive with hickory brine and sherry, are enticing. But it’s the signature drinks that steal the show, with names revealing their English roots. Take the London Fog, for example, a delicious blend of gin and earl grey served over pellet ice, with violette, almond, lavender and madeira, garnished with white chocolate and lavender salt.

Other popular options include the Umami Old Fashioned, featuring Japanese whiskey, reduced soy, maple for sweetness, and lapsang; and the nostalgic 1282 Abbey Road, which brings a taste of London to Toronto with bourbon, chai, coconut and candied fennel.

The fare also pays homage to the UK with traditional Yorkshire pudding, uniquely served with tartar inside. For those familiar with traditional Scotch eggs, the ones at COMPTON AVE. offer a twist, featuring sage and onion stuffed pork instead of sausage, served on smoked hay with black garlic aioli underneath.

“Every single element of this program and this experience is meant to speak to the authenticity of that transportation,” says Solarik.

The theatrics and immersion at COMPTON AVE. are one-of-a-kind, as well, as the smoked olive dish is presented table side with the residual smoke in the service itself.

“Everything is just completely different, so with these three places, I think we’ve really managed to achieve the ultimate goal of creating the trifecta or trilogy of premier cocktail bars in the city,” says Solarik.

We can’t wait to see where he will transport us next.

COMPTON AVE. is located at 1282 Dundas St. W.

Article exclusive to STREETS OF TORONTO