Early Bird Espresso & Brew Bar
Early Bird Espresso & Brew Bar is a new cafe on Queen West just east of Bathurst. They just opened this week, but they're attracting plenty of folk from the hood already. With the requisite exposed brick and industrial bulbs, Early Bird fits in with the Queen West aesthetic, although it's in a new building.
I drop in to visit late in the morning, every fiber of my being reaching for that second coffee of the day. I want calories, too, so I order a latte ($3.90, and made with Pilot beans and a La Marzocco machine) and it's exactly what I was hoping for. It manages to be both frothy and creamy, with lots of milk. It goes down like a meal, which I appreciate in a latte. And, of course, Pilot provides a mean bean, and the flavour is nutty and calming.
The atmosphere is really relaxed, with Alt-J creepily crooning in the background and a few people engaging pretty seriously with their laptops. Friends of owners Bani Taghaboni and Farshid Sahami keep dropping in to offer congratulations, and young people with the freedom to be wandering around in the middle of the day come in for iced coffees. There's seating for about 30 inside, a third of which is at a communal table in the front window.
There's room for about another 20 on the sunshiney patio in back, which is up a set of back stairs and situated on a lower portion of the roof. There's a picnic table up there, and some smaller bistro tables for more intimate conversations. It looks like an ideal spot for a date or a catchup among friends.
Early Bird has perfect picnic food, too. They've got several sandwich choices, including prosciutto and pesto, turkey and brie, and tomato and bocconcini. As I dither about what I want to eat, the barista is really patient and tries his best to soothe my indecisive mind.
I eventually settle on a cheese and chive scone ($2.85), which is a gooood choice. I scarf it down so fast I almost forget to pay attention to its characteristics. It is light and fluffy, yet substantial, with the perfect amount of chive so as not to overpower. As scones are meant to be, it's like a small meal, which is just what I need.
My only beef with Early Bird is kind of unfair, to be honest, but here it is: it's newness makes the industrial touches feel a bit inauthentic. It's like it's trying to be old and gritty. The problem is, there's not a touch of grit about the place. It's all a bit tidy for my liking. But, you know, some people like their food to come from clean environs, so I guess we can't hold it against them too much.
I'd give this cafe four early birds out of five, for their delicious coffee, snack options, and delightful patio.
Photos by Morris Lum