City Bar is not your typical indie coffee spot. For one, it's nestled amongst denim cutoffs and Wewood watches that hang off shelves--not off irreverent patrons sipping lattes. You won't find drip coffee here, nor will you find any freshly baked goods. There is zero street presence, no quiet reading nooks, and only a gentle sprinkling of natural light. But with Espresso Romano as just one of the atypical drinks on its menu, I think City Bar will soon find it's niche.
Leave it to Lavish and Squalor to try to find mainstream love for the espresso, sugar, and lemon rind drink. The shop is poised to open City Bar in its upper level space sometime next week, and it plans to stray from some of the more common-touted coffee shop offerings.
"We want to be like an old-fashioned espresso bar," owner Anne Middleton says. "Not many people drink just espresso anymore; we want to offer something to customers when they're up here. A nice, rich, single-shot."
Anne says they finally settled on one particular local Ontario roaster after months of searching, and helped to create a custom blend that they are expecting to receive in the next few days. "It's very clean," Anne says. "No tummy aches, no headaches, or any of those other things that can come from bad coffee."
City Bar's focus will, of course, be espresso, with options such as the Cafe Miel (espresso, steamed milk, cinnamon, and honey), Flat White (espresso, flat steamed milk) and aforementioned Espresso Romano all on offer. There will also be loose-leaf teas and beans to take home, as well as glasses and coffee equipment.
"Pretty much everything here will be available on the retail end," Anne says, pointing out the Duralex glasses, Frieling French press and coffee accessories resting on the bar. "And we're still going to be doing Cinq à Sept," she adds, referring to the shop's complementary cocktail events.
Lavish and Squalor plans to see how customers take to City Bar over the next couple of months, and if all goes well, their next move may be a fully-integrated cafe on the main level. "We'll see," says Anne. "For now, we're just looking to offer an independent alternative for an area that doesn't have very many choices. And good espresso."
Photos by Jimmy Lu