Toronto, ON M6H 1M2
Bar Biltmore is the historic Paradise Theatre's upstairs cocktail bar. Conceptualized by bar director Robin Goodfellow, this cocktail haven is named after the Biltmore Theatre, where owner Moray Tawse spent his formative years. The bar is built around the cocktail program which Goodfellow has created on a schematic bitterness scale. Meant for guests with a burgeoning cocktail curiosity, Goodfellow hopes this will encourage diners to get creative when ordering a drink, instead of sticking with a basic vodka and soda.
As an extension of their downstairs Italian restaurant, Osteria Rialto, executive chef Basilio Pesce keeps the theme of non-regional Italian cuisine upstairs at Bar Biltmore. All of the food up here was meant to pair perfectly with steady sipping of Goodfellow's creative cocktails.
Chef Pesce created the Bar Biltmore menu to emulate an Italian antipasti bar, "even the way Robin used the scale of bitterness, is very aperitivo. A couple of drinks, few nibbles of food, you don’t necessarily need to be sitting down, everything can be enjoyed standing up," says Pesce.
The snacks are all prepared behind the bar. With a raw bar component, the food is meant to be enjoyed by the bar with a drink in hand.
Chef de cuisine Ryan Baddeley classified the egg with mullet bottarga ($8) dish as a "really fancy egg salad." Its made with organic eggs, fresh creme and topped with a good dusting of mullet bottarga.
The mozzarella and house-made giardiniera ($18) is simple but spectacular. Pesce tasted this buffalo mozzarella during a visit to Montreal. After asking some questions and a couple of emails back in forth, he was hooked up to the cheese maker who hasn't been able to break into the Ontario market, "so instead of flying it in from Italy, we try to source as much as we can from what’s around us," says Pesce.
The king salmon crudo ($21) is made with blood orange segments, Castelvetrano olives, chopped pistachio and Alhema olive oil.
Pastry chef Jill Barbers' chocolate hazelnut bar ($9) is the only composed dessert up at Biltmore. This Ferrero Roche-esque dessert has a crunchy hazelnut bottom a centre of cooked chocolate custard with a hazelnut glaze on top.
Robin Goodfellow created the entire cocktail menu at Bar Biltmore to lie along a bitterness scale. Goodfellow uses the mainstay categories; spritz, sour and negroni as a baseline to then tread off the beaten path into either courageous or clean beverages. Each drink on the menu is rated out of five to declare its bitterness and at the bottom of the list, there is a legend to explain exactly what you're getting yourself into whether you're picking a one or a five.
"The menu is unique. And regimented as it is, I've never done anything on a schematic scale before so that's really new to me," says Goodfellow.
He believes that this scale will allow patrons to learn about mixology. "The menu can take you on a journey without caring too much or knowing too much about mixology," says Goodfellow.
To keep with Osteria Rilato's Italian style, Biltmore's drinks are heavily inspired by cocktails you can find in Italy. Goodfellow is also using unique Italian aperitivos, Amaro and liquor to further enhance the Italian essence.
The classic spritz and a one out of five on the bitterness scale, the Aperol spritz ($13) is arguably Italy's most crushable cocktail.
The classic negroni ($14) is always a stylish sip. Equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, this bevy rates three out of five on Goodfellow's scale.
A whiskey sour ($14) is always a good choice. Frothy from the egg whites and slightly sour, this mainstay is a guaranteed safe bet.
The Strano ($16) rates a three out of five on the bitterness scale and is Goodfellow's courageous Negroni offering. Made with cachaca, dry vermouth, coconut and Affino, this pale negroni packs a punch.
With subtle nods to the design of the rest of the building, this subdued space was designed to carry an air of flare, but still, be practical and inviting. The narrow bar is illuminated by exposed bulbs and reflections of the metallic copper bar.
Running along the windows there is standing room with short tables and ledges almost as if you are sitting right on top of the street, looking down at passersby while sipping on some of the creatively constructed cocktails. In the back of the space, there are a few high top tables, which are better for parties of four who are looking to grab more than just one beverage before heading into Rialto or into the theatre to catch a flick.
The patio is a real feat. Not many restaurants patios exist right on top of a busy street. So there’s no doubt this 40-seat outdoor area will be bumping as soon summer rolls around.
By: Nicole Richie Posted: Feb 14, 2020