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Art Square Cafe: Where Art and Chocolate Meet

Posted by Tanja / Reviewed on February 1, 2008 / review policy

Seige of Art coffee at Art Square Cafe
While the AGO will remain closed for "transformation" 'til later this year, there is still plenty of art to experience on this stretch of Dundas West - culinary arts, of course....

The Art Square cafe, located directly across from the AGO, features an exhibit of painted works and a little hidden gem of a cafe all tucked into one narrow townhouse-turned-gallery.

You can pick up a coffee, crepe or even a box of pure chocolate truffles and sit amidst the artwork. Should you need to get some work done as well (boo to that!), in-cafe WIFI is always free. Art and technology aside for a moment though, let's get back to the food.

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There with a couple of caffeine-deprived colleagues, I order an Americano ($1.65), brewed with Illy coffee. It's my favourite bean and prepared with Art Square professionalism, it doesn't disappoint. On the side, I get a large almond biscotti ($1.50) and a few of dark chocolate-pistachio bites for sharing ($1.25 for 2). Both are terrific paired with a dark coffee.

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The biscotti might seem a simple pick, but it's far richer than most regular cafe biscotti. While some bakers might just toss a few almonds into the mix, here you can immediately taste and smell the difference almond flour and amaretto make.

Across the table, "Siege of Art" is all the rage. The recipe here is a hit of espresso blended with 70% dark chocolate and skim milk. The coffee is strong, the chocolate subtle, and it's all topped some of the most photogenic chocolate-dusted foam I've ever seen (pictured at the top).

Around us, other customers are digging into crepe orders and soon we're driven to abandon our own dinner plans and indulge.

The menu features an assortment of different sweet and savoury crepes. We decide to try the daily crepe special: Berries and Rum with specialty tea ($5.50), along with a dessert menu pick we're sure will show off Art Square's chocolate strengths: Chocolate Fondue for Two ($14.50).

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The delightful crepe is simple, bursting with dark berry jam and dusted with powdered sugar. The tea that came along with it was a mulled cinnamon tea which we didn't think suited the crepe well, but I should point out that I'm not much of a fan of 'mulled' drinks to begin with.

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The fondue was more decadent than we could ever have imagined.

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A bubbling bowlful of thick dark chocolate was carefully placed between us, filling the entire gallery with the smell of cocoa, while a platter of chopped apple, pear, and banana aside cinnamon-dusted crepes arrives a moment later. I was about to ask if there were strawberries available (quintessential fondue fruit, no?), but just then, staff came bustling over with yet another sliced crepe (this one chocolate-filled) and I was rendered speechless by the amount of food - let alone chocolate - that surrounded me.

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As you might imagine, it was amazingly good, yet almost too rich. The chocolate was so dense that we were near fondue'd-out after only a few pieces. Not really a flaw in the dish, of course, but something to keep in mind. Perhaps Art Square knows the feeling though, as the menu notes that you can get unfinished chocolate to take home - which, for the record, is a good plan. It makes a great melted spread on a slice of toast the next morn.

Staff here is friendly and a late 10pm closing time makes it easy to settle in for the evening and get some work done on the ol' notebook while enjoying great food and atmosphere. I'm heading back this evening.

Art Square Cafe on Dundas St West in Toronto

Discussion

20 Comments

Danielle / February 1, 2008 at 10:42 am
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Love this place, but the service is lacking. It's a great place to go if you have a lot of time on your hands.
vanessa / February 1, 2008 at 10:57 am
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they have a "1000 island dressing" that's nothing like the orange glop you normally find and is actually a nice puckering dill infused dressing that's fantastic.

i've found the quality of their truffles rather poor. kudos to the use of free-trade chocolate but the execution is dry and powdery.
AC / February 1, 2008 at 11:51 am
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Ditto that, and an FYI to the weekend brunch crowd: This place isn't for you; please go line up at Cora's or some other generic egg joint and let me enjoy my delicious breakfast crepe in peace -- Oh crap, I've said too much!
krystyn / February 1, 2008 at 05:03 pm
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I come here almost every week! The berry crepe is a must-try. Mmm! In regards to the service, I would recommend sitting down, putting your coat and stuff on the table, and then going to the counter to order. If you wait for them to come to you...it certainly takes a good 20 minutes. Ditto for when it's time to pay, just walk up to the counter.
Danielle / February 1, 2008 at 07:57 pm
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Unfortunately Krystyn, I always do just that, but Ive had instances where one crepe came, literally, 25 minutes after the other. On a quiet afternoon with 2 other patrons drinking coffee and biscotti.
Lisa / October 26, 2008 at 03:37 pm
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I love it here. I'm actually eating here right now. It's one of the best places in the city for wifi and a quiet space to work. They have great music and amazing hot chocolate (try the mayan spice)! Never tried the truffles, but the savory crepes are awesome.
Yoko / October 29, 2008 at 11:36 pm
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I love this place!!I tried all crepes. Canadian breakfast is my favorite:)
asia / October 30, 2008 at 01:41 am
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I love that place and I go every week. Crepes are really good. They have different kinds of truffles and deserts. And they make hot chocolate really good! If you really want to eat smth tasty, it is very nice place to go!
gulin / November 2, 2008 at 09:00 am
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i love this cafe, especially their chocolates and speciality crepes. Eating all these delicious food amidst the artwork as well makes me feel good.
Bora / September 27, 2009 at 11:30 am
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Just to post the official address
Humblebee / April 7, 2010 at 04:14 pm
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This cafe is a really nice place to spend a few hours with some close friends. There are a few problems - mainly there is only one crepe stove so they bring out the crepe's one at a time, and your crepe will likely be cold by the time that your partner receives theirs and you begin.

Secondly newcomers are often confused by the layout - looks like a cafe, acts like a restaurant. The server's are always telling people to have a "sit" and look at the menu. It would be helpful for them to have a "Please seat yourself" sign...or something to that affect. I have heard people comment negatively about the annoyance of being told to sit down every time they enter.

I love this cafe and it's unique items but it's just not meant to be a restaurant like the owner seems to want it to be. It's not set up properly to handle a big crowd (again I point out the one-at-a-time crepe production).

If it's not busy enjoy a delicious crepe that you won't find at any other cafe in Toronto. Also expand your coffee addiction to include a Turkish coffee or latte. These girls really know how to brew the perfect pot!
Sam / January 26, 2011 at 02:12 pm
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I thought this place was a gem when I discovered it a few years ago. Now, I believe there was a change in ownership, everything is different. Service is lacking but the restaurant is very busy. Food is okay, maybe I had set the bar too high from the previous ownership. It's still a really cute cafe just don't expect too much from this place.
Humblebee / January 26, 2011 at 03:23 pm
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@ Sam
Same ownership...just natural evolution I suppose. Some businesses get better over time and some depreciate. Also, huge turn off but I have learned that the owner doesn't tip out the girls so I would not recommend tipping at this joint, as it is just adding to your all ready expensive coffee.
lisa / March 10, 2011 at 11:55 am
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Those chocolate covered pistachio's are AMAZING!!! They must use some pretty quality chocolate, because I've never had chocolate covered anything that tasted that delicious!
Tammy / March 28, 2011 at 02:50 pm
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HORRIBLE. My crepe tasted like soap and was very rubbery. For a crepe that was described to be "filled with chocolate and topped with pistachios", there was very little of either to be had. When I spoke to the cook about my displeasure, she was rude and insisted her crepes were always made with quality ingredients. She made me pay in full for the 3 bites I was able to choke down.
Jo / March 28, 2011 at 09:47 pm
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While they claim to use quality ingredients, they apparently don't value freshness. My crepe tasted like an old shoe. And I noticed they were microwaving dishes as I paid and left. The art is nice though - stick to the gallery.
Sam / September 9, 2011 at 02:18 pm
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I left some gift items to the owner( Leyla) valued $300.00 as consignment;as far as i am told, she sold 115.00 worth it very first week; than , she put the items to her closet! thinking that these are good items to import herself!!! So, when I went to collect my money she only paid me $45.00; she ripped me off for $70.00 of my mercandize. She said , "the rest of the merchandize was stolen".
She is a low-life ,dishonest scum-bag/Beware of her,people!
Michelle / February 5, 2013 at 12:52 pm
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This place is now under new management and is called East West Cafe. Slightly different menu, same concept, better quality. Still a lovely space for meetings.
eli porter / October 16, 2013 at 12:26 pm
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place sucks, go here if you want to pay for tap water (1-2$ or something ridiculous) and a subpar crepe
LEYLA KIZILIRMAK / November 20, 2013 at 08:38 am
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Thank you for the all comments. I am looking after our gallery & cafe for almost 10 years now. Same owner and same name. We work with different artists and galleries. East Gallery booked our space for almost 2 years and they moved to Vancouver now.
We know Tammy and Sam and I will ask our lawyer to send him a note. We do not take consignment.

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