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Introducing: Bar Neon, a new Bloordale watering hole with some ambitious grub

Jeff Garcia’s striking mural adorns one wall at Bar Neon (Image: Gizelle Lau)

When Bar Neon opened last month, it became Bloordale’s answer to the trend embodied by places like Grand Electric and 416 Snack Bar: hip, local watering holes not afraid to serve food with a little ambition. Behind Bar Neon is Niki Tsourounakis, who grew up around the restaurant business, near Montreal. She also owns Café Neon in just outside the Junction Triangle and Amphora Products, a company that imports organic Vlatos olive oil and fleur de sel from Crete—both of which, naturally, make a few appearances on the plates at Bar Neon.

The space, which Tsourounakis designed herself, is welcoming and unpretentious, with a mix of antique and modern touches. Like so many new restaurants, the original ceilings of the room were excavated and restored from under the drywall, and exposed brick is buffed and given pride of place. Unlike most new restaurants, Bar Neon also features a stunning mural by local artist Jeff Garcia, a friend of Tsourounakis, which helps warm up the space.

Bar Neon’s cocktail menu offers drinks at $10.50 each, including their signature: a bourbon negroni with Four Roses bourbon, sweet vermouth, Campari and West Indian orange bitters. The bar boasts a healthy selection of bourbon as well as Greek liqueurs like Metaxa, the requisite ouzo and traditional raki. On tap, there’s Beau’s and a couple Mill Street brews.

In the kitchen—with just two toaster ovens and a deep fryer—is chef Ivan Loubier, previously of Taboo in Muskoka and Didier. Loubier describes the menu as Canadian, with a dozen options that include marinated sardines on crostini ($10 for four pieces), salt cod croquettes ($9 for three pieces) and mini croque monsieurs ($10 for three pieces). Larger flatbread “tostas” ($14 each) are intended for sharing and include options like mushroom fricassee, salt-cured ham with black olives and arugula with duck confit, caramelized onion, potato and sage. Loubier also has a strong pastry background, and makes chocolate truffles (lavender on the night we visited) for $2 each. On Fridays and Saturdays starting at midnight, Loubier offers a late-night toonie bar, where small plates of oysters and other menu items are sold for $2 per plate. During the summer, the backyard patio will open up, offering outdoor seating as well as summer pig and lamb roasts. The yard is complete with a modified shipping container where they’ll serve drinks and shuck oysters.

Next up for Tsourounakis: a sit-down dinner menu at the café, where Loubier will be cooking.

Bar Neon, 1226 Bloor St. W., 647-748-6366, @Bar_Neon.

Our Introducing series explores newly opened restaurants, bars and shops throughout the GTA
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  • at

    Stopped in there a few weeks ago to grab a few with some friends; great spot, and very accessible along the Bloor line. The menu looks great, which is something that I definitely want to try the next that I’m there.

    Warning: those that are 6′ or taller (perhaps even just slightly shorter!) may experience problems in the basement level.

  • juan del toxico.

    a ‘bourbon negroni’ is already a classic cocktail called a boulevardier.

  • J.R.

    The food at bar neon is incredible.The crostini with marinated sardines is crazily delicious and the codfish cakes are creamy perfection. Yum!! A great bar, quickly becoming a favourite of mine in the city.

  • Jen Crinion

    Looks good and I’d love to visit both the Bar and Cafe but perhaps it’s a stretch to call Cafe Neon in the Junction. I live in the Junction and Lansdowne and Wallace isn’t it.

  • parkdaleeater

    cafe neon is not in the junction. the junction triange is such that the neighborhood is contained WITHIN the 3 sets of tracks….cafe neon is sadly on the ‘wrong side of the tracks’

  • Boots

    So article is about awesome new bar or technicality of geographical placement of cafe? You people are confusing me

  • parkdaleeater

    if you can’t trust the basic facts of an article, then the remainder of the article becomes suspect

  • Toronto Life Staff

    parkdaleeater is right, of course, by about 50 metres. We’ve updated the post.

  • Boots

    Hahahahha

  • HRH DMK

    …and now I am more likely to believe the rest of your article. I just likely won’t go there, as I work downtown and live in East York … this city is nothing if not near-impossible to navigate QUICKLY. It’s way too spread out and everything takes at least 30 minutes to get to. And now with the Fordtwins cutting the only reason I like living in this city (the Toronto Public Library), I’m going to have to move to Port Credit man!

  • mamabear

    If you can’t muster the energy to get on the bloor subway line, fine by me! Its in my hood (no, its not the junction) and I don’t mind shorter lineups for my fave places.
    Looking forward to the dinner menu, but am liking hte current portions too.

  • Adam

    Good call juan del toxico. But whether they call it the boulevardier or “bourbon negroni,” I’m still going to drink it

 

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