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Introducing: Marcy, a Roncesvalles Polish restaurant reborn as a cocktail bar

(Images: Caroline Aksich)

For the past 15 years, Beata Kowalczyk served up hearty Polish fare at her Roncesvalles mainstay, Lala Bistro. Earlier this spring she decided to throw her apron away, and reopen the place as Marcy. And while the old regulars are grieving over the loss of her cabbage rolls, a new generation of patrons has quickly filled their seats—due in part, no doubt, to the presence of manager and resident mixologist Vanessa Handford, formerly of Goodnight.

Kowalczyk asked her neighbourhood pal Catherine Huizenga (of Mrs. Huizenga’s, a vintage furniture and tchotchke shop located a block south) to help with the revamp and the rebrand. Huizenga rechristened her friend’s bar Marcy, after the label on her well-loved fur coat (the official back-story: the Edvard Munch-esque painting at the bar’s entrance is of “Marcy” and her husband). Apart from inventing a fictitious owner, Huizenga reupholstered the chairs and booths with paisley, polka dots and even a comic strip print. She also decked out the exposed brick walls with an eccentric collection of paintings and knickknacks like a porcelain Pierrot head and rocking horse cutouts. In homage to Lala Bistro, the old backlit Lala Bistro sign, in the colours of the Polish flag, now hangs opposite the bar.

Although Kowalczyk may have turned her oven off for good, she doesn’t want her customers to go hungry. On offer are four cold plates: smoked mackerel ($14), smoked salmon ($12), kielbasa ($12) and avocado ($10), all served with Ubashi baguette, assorted pickles, feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, pesto and tapenade. Handford has also named one of her six signature cocktails (all $8.50) in memory of the bar’s Polish past; the Lala’s Mule is made with gin, limoncello, stirred mint and cucumbers, fresh squeezed citrus and soda. In keeping with the Polish-Canadian mash-up, the beers on offer include the big Polish beers (Tyskie, Żywiec and Tatra, all $6) and local craft beers on draft (Stonehammer Dark Ale, Beau’s Lug Tread Lagered Ale and Beau’s IPA, all $6.50).

Marcy, 145 Roncesvalles Ave., 416-516-2577, Facebook page

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