With the recent arrival of such hot spots as The Hideout, Tattoo Rock Parlour and Barchef, the Queen and Bathurst area has seen a boom in late-night hangout options (with the notable exception of the Bip Bop Big Bop’s closure). But a few steps north on Bathurst used to mean immediate entry into a nightlife dead zone. At least, that was before Adrian Ravinsky and David Stewart opened 416 Snack Bar on Monday, bringing with them a cosmopolitan menu of palm-sized grub options.
The two business partners met years ago as bussers at Ferro. Since then, they’ve become true front-of-house veterans, having undergone serving or managing stints at such venues as Brassaii, Buca, Gilead and more. Now, at 416, they’re trying their hands at menu creation in the space formerly occupied by burrito spot Johnny Banana Johny Banana. “We’re sort of hastily trained chefs,” Stewart admits, but it’s certainly not obvious from the effort put into their eats. It probably helped, too, that Grace’s Dustin Gallagher provided his services as mentor.
For $4, customers get several bites’ worth of a pork belly bun, the meat of which is cured for a week, submerged in duck fat for three or four hours, then deep-fried until crisp. It comes on a steamed bun, made in-house, with hoisin sauce, pickled celery, pickled ginger and watercress as garnishes. The Napolitano pizza pocket ($4) offers vegetarians a miniature panzerotto filled with mozzarella, basil and San Marzano DOP tomato sauce. Other petite highlights include a grilled hot dog ($3) and a Jamaican beef patty filled with braised short rib ($3), both also made from scratch.
The beer selection includes such local favourites as Duggan’s Number 9 ($6), Hoptical Illusion ($6.50 a pint) and Steam Whistle ($6); the wine list is VQA heavy, and the liquor selection steers clear of candy booze. All of that, plus the antique-heavy decor, make for a venue that’s reassuringly worthy of the name.
416 Snack Bar, 181 Bathurst St. (at Queen St. W.), 416-364-9320, 416snackbar.wordpress.com.