You won’t feel cheated dining at the reasonably priced Bar Poet. With a well-thought-out menu that satisfies most hankerings, one may acquire after a beer or two -- Bar poet is the perfect go-to place for a mid-week happy hour. Especially if one feels like a quick round of Skee-Ball.
Located at 1090 Queen St West, Bar Poet resides in the old space that once housed Church Aperitivo Bar. The majority of the menu is priced under $10, which has come to be a rarity for the city. On offer is a wide range of pizzas amongst other desirable crowd-pleasers such as meatballs, chicken drumsticks and a rather impressive cheeseburger.
At first glance, the facade resembles a scaled-down castle. With Palladian windows and large slabs of stone, the architectural structure harks back to Renaissance times -- possibly why the establishment is named Bar Poet. The space can accommodate up to 100 people, with high ceilings, large wooden tables and an awning that encapsulates the room -- the place is eclectic.
The bar is dimly lit and quite ample. For a moment, I am under the false impression that I have just been seated on the patio during a warm summer evening. Rooted trees adorned with twinkly lights are reminiscent of the night sky. Perhaps, Bar Poet will become an indoor oasis of sorts, with the ability to transport miserable customers from the gruelling winter.
Cocktails speak to the masses and will satisfy most palates. There really isn’t much to complain about when your drink only sets you back $6. From the Sour Poet ($6.75) to the Green Goddess ($15), cocktails are inventive without being too far-fetched for most. For beer, the options are varied, with both craft and mass-produced libations on tap. The wine list is impressive and constantly changing. The in-house sommelier is rather knowledgeable and up to date with the ever-popular natural wine trend.
The food is excellent for the price point. The Meatball ($8.75) has a crispy crust on the outside and a succulent interior. The tomato sauce is developed in flavour and delivers just the right amount of acidity. The addition of pistachio pesto is a refreshing change from your typical rendition and adds another level of complexity to the dish.
Both the Buttermilk Chicken Drums ($9.95) and Garlic Fingers ($7.50) are well executed and serve their purpose. What does make these two dishes stand out are the divine dipping sauces, which are all made in-house.
Cooked in a double-deck electric oven, the pizzas are crispier than their Neapolitan counterparts. Fermented for three days, a subtle sourdough tang transpires through the dough.
The Life is Gucci ($9.95) pie is a homerun and should not be missed. With mortadella, toasted pistachios, taleggio, ricotta, hot honey and chives -- the first bite will grab your attention just as much as the clever name did. Not usually one for white pies -- as there is something inevitably missing without that needed kick of acidity -- I don’t think twice about the absence of tomato sauce.
The Hot Rod ($9) pie is your standard pepperoni pizza -- tomato sauce adorned with natural casing pepperoni that curls up into a seductive and crispy cup, catching the drizzle of hot honey. A perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
The Wiki Leeks ($9.75) pie with braised leeks, mozzarella, parmesan, bacon, a cracked egg and hickory sticks is creative in its inception but delivers as a slightly one-dimensional dish.
For dessert, the Cookie Butter Budino ($8) with dulce de leche, cookie crumbs and chocolate sauce; as well as the Nutella Panna Cotta ($7) with toasted pistachios and macerated strawberries hit all the right notes when it comes to ordering something sweet. Simple and shareable, the dessert isn’t groundbreaking but definitely worth ordering.
Bar Poet manages to cater to a wide demographic without losing its identity, an impressive feat for any restaurant. A fantastic option for a gathering of old friends with divergent tastes or a casual date night that won’t break the bank. Bar Poet successfully delivers on maintaining a budget-friendly menu without sacrificing the quality of food, service or ambience.