The Harbord Room
Photography by Globe and Mail
Words by Andrew Toplack on 04-Aug-2015
89 Harbord Street, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1G4, Canada
Tel: +1 416 962 8989
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Daily 5:30 to close (food until midnight)
Door: Open door
Style: Restaurant bar
Recommended for: Cocktails, Food
Price guide: Middling
Food: Full menu
Occupying the ground floor and backyard of an old (for Toronto) row house on Harbord Street, The Harbord Room anchors a small island of excellent restaurants and bars in a largely residential area near the University of Toronto. Its relaxed and unpretentious vibe, young and engaging staff, and great food and cocktails have made it a hit with both neighbourhood locals and food and cocktail lovers from all parts of the city.
Low tables at the front of the house and high-tops along the side and back provide seating, along with 10 seats at the bar. The backyard patio doubles the 30-seat capacity during pleasant weather.
The bar was handmade by one of the owners, Dave Mitton, from two huge slabs of century-old Mennonite barn wood. He has also been the creative force behind the cocktail menu, all in-house creations, but referencing the classics. The recent arrival of Evelyn Chick from Vancouver has added significantly to the variety of flavours and combinations available in the cocktails. Standouts include the Ronald Clayton, named after Dave's Grandfather, a combination of vanilla-infused Canadian whiskey, maple bitters, and tobacco tincture, and the Odd Society (Hendricks gin, fino sherry, Chartreuse, Cocchi Americano, & cucumber cordial).
The food, by chef Cory Vitiello, is seriously good and can best be described as modern Canadian comfort food. A warning: this is a popular place, so reservations are a good idea. Like many places in Toronto, the bar seats are available on a first-come-first-served basis, but come early as they don't stay empty for long.