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Cafes

Balzac's (Ryerson)

Posted by Robyn Urback / Posted on May 17, 2012

balzac's toronto ryersonBalzac's in Ryerson has finally made its much, much anticipated arrival. Back in 2011, Ryerson began its search for a new café to occupy the ground floor retail space of its new(ish) Image Arts building. The big coffee chains were, of course, considered for the vacancy, but Balzac's ended up beating them all. The announcement was thus made in early September and students were left to wait for its opening.

balzac's ryerson torontoNow, I know from my years at Ryerson that there are plenty of places to refuel on campus, but coffee options during my day (read: two years ago) were pretty much limited to Timmie's or cafeteria drip. If you had some time to spare you could head up to Bulldog, but the shop was hardly close enough to grab a cup between classes.

balzac's toronto ryerson coffeeThen, early last semester, students were offered respite from the double-double in the form of RISE Espresso on Mutual. And now with Balzac's "unofficial" opening this week, it seems there actually are a few places to grab a decent coffee on campus.

balzac's toronto coffee shopIf I haven't yet offended you with my pretentious coffee snobbery, I should say that I do remember being a student, a time wherein paying $2.50 for a cup of coffee would seem like an astronomical premium. Put me back there, and perhaps I would even still opt for the double-double.

balzac's toronto ryersonBut when I dropped in on Balzac's at Ryerson during its unofficial opening, the number of students in the space told me that many were more than happy to fork over the extra dollar. The café was bustling with students and brimming with activity.

balzac's toronto coffeePerhaps some of the credit, however, should go to the location. Balzac's has snagged a great spot at foot of the Image arts building on Gould Street, the main road running through the heart of Ryerson's campus.

balzac's coffee shop torontoThere are floor-to-ceiling windows, and the space has been decked out with cool marble bars, communal (room for eight or more — perfect for working on group assignments) and bistro tables, and the same custom-made Art Deco tiles that you'll find at the Liberty Village location.

balzac's coffee ryersonThis new Balzac's still has a few kinks to work out, including setting up Wifi, hiring a new manager, and figuring out whether it will use Ryerson's OneCard payment system.

balzac's toronto cafe ryersonIsaac, who works at the Liberty Village location and is temporarily filling in as manager, tells me the menu is essentially the same with espresso ($2 to $2.50) made from its signature blend (roasted up in Stoney Creek) along with organic hot chocolate ($2.50), loose-leaf teas, and pastries and treats from Circles & Squares and other local bakers.

balzac's ryerson torontoI grab an iced Americano ($2.65) and head outside (though there's plenty of room inside, this pedestrian-only stretch of Gould is perfect during warmer weather). The drink is bold with hints of fruitiness, but I find it just a little bit bitter on the finish.

balzac's toronto coffeeStill, I won't compare it to those one-button machine espresso drinks available in abundance around campus. Ryerson's staff and students have already begun to revel in their new coffee option. Better snag a seat now.

balzac's toronto

Balzac's (Ryerson) is currently open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, though hours may change. Photos by Morris Lum

Discussion

15 Comments

2FUTURE / May 17, 2012 at 01:24 pm
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Of course, right when I graduate.
whoa / May 17, 2012 at 01:37 pm
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Ball sacks!
Matt / May 17, 2012 at 02:43 pm
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Unfortunately, Balzac's is a really low-quality roaster. Too bad it's not a Dark Horse or Lit cafe.
erin / May 17, 2012 at 03:51 pm
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Beautiful! Proud to be a Rye student.
Kevin / May 17, 2012 at 03:58 pm
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Love the space! Glad they kept it so open and didn't just cram it with chairs, however they'll probably fill up on spots extremely fast considering it will be the next hot spot to study. My only concern is their speed; they'll be pulling so much foot traffic that they'll loose so much business from how slow manual machines are in comparison to the speedy Timmies and Starbucks.


Really interested to see if they bring in staff that will be ready to tacke on the high volume come September.
lowrez / May 17, 2012 at 04:40 pm
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"The big coffee chains were, of course, considered for the vacancy"

Why?
lowrez / May 17, 2012 at 04:41 pm
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Also, agree with Matt -- Balzac's is not really on the radar in terms of quality espresso in the city.
Franco / May 17, 2012 at 06:04 pm
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Awesome, I love Balzac's very much. This is great news for Ryerson students, and Torontonians alike. I'm happy to see the expansion.
Johnny Jojobeans / May 19, 2012 at 04:59 pm
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Well, they may be paying more for tuition, but as far as campus amenities, the Rye kids these days definitely have it better than I did!

Balzac's is great, and I think their espresso is underrated. Looking forward to stopping in when I'm in the 'hood.
Izabela / May 25, 2012 at 03:01 pm
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Do they have wifi?
Naadia replying to a comment from Kevin / May 28, 2012 at 03:26 pm
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I was there last week during my break from a summer course and with the limited volume it's already a bit of a wait. My tea was great. Still waiting to try their pastries. I ordered feta last time and they gave me ham and cheese. I didn't look in the bag until I had gotten back to class and I don't eat meat. Next time though! They looked really great.
Kelsey / June 12, 2012 at 11:23 am
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Love the look of the café. Just what the Rye community needs.
Alyssa / December 3, 2012 at 12:41 pm
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Sadly, I was expecting much more from Balzac's. I love the idea of it, I just really don't like the products. The coffee is not good and the tea's are very light. I did enjoy the chocolate chip cookie but had my eye set on another pastry there, however there was no indication that there were nuts in the product on the description sign. Thankfully, I inquired about my allergy and there are not only traces of nuts in it, but there are actual full nuts inside. I dont understand the hype, but the hipsters are loving it !
Alex / February 4, 2013 at 04:35 pm
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Alyssa, a fair comment from you, but while there are so-called hipsters or people just wanting to be seen and take up space, many go to Balzac's because they are already familiar with the cafe and products. Perhaps some have already experienced other Balzac branches, where one may have better coffee preparations than others.

Perhaps it's just plain support for local businesses. Lord knows we need more of this mentality in Canada, because we've lost so many of our own businesses and industries to American ones (invaders). It's not nice seeing all those people at Wal Mart when there are Canadian options and actually cheaper ones as well, and then these same people complain about the state of economy here. If support is the case, I'm sure it's not pity or plain charity because at least there is credibility with Balzac's. The products are good, and always growing, as well as the atmosphere.
Steph / February 8, 2013 at 03:51 pm
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Oh I wish it was Wagamama Pastries there instead. All these places like Ball Saks and Dark Horse seem to copy Wagamama and everything they make and do.
Big fan.

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