Bar Pompette is open for indoor and patio dining. Masks are mandatory and hand sanitizer is at the entrance.
Bar Pompette is an extension of the original Pompette restaurant not far away, serving coffee, classy snacks and alcoholic beverages.
The French cafe and bar replaces The Walton just a few storefronts down from the sister spot with a reputation for its menu of thoughtful Parisian fare.
Here, brown-leathered benches and dark wooden tables are offset by a white brick wall and streams of sunlight coming from the front doors, usually wide open on a warm day. It's sophisticated without feeling one bit stuffy or pretentious.
Chef Martine Bauer started Pompette with her husband and renowned sommelier Jonathan Bauer, along with business partner and mixologist Maxime Hoerth after all moving to Toronto from France.
Trusted barman from the big sister location, Hugo Togni, heads up operations here. While chef Bauer, previously of the Prince Maurice hotel in Mauritius and Paris’s Hôtel de Matignon, the official residence of the Prime Minister of France, handles the menu.
Caffeinated drinks like cappuccinos, lattes and cortados are available in the morning. Each cup is dripped from a La Marzocco espresso machine with coffee beans from Toronto's De Mello.
A Hojicha latte ($5) is prepared with roasted Japanese green tea, with every last trace of bitterness from the green tea removed while roasting. What remains is a sweet, and just slightly earthy, taste.
Perfect on the side of a morning coffee, the pastries include madeleines, sugar-sprinkled brioche buns and cookies, which are baked fresh every morning next door along with the sourdough baguettes.
The skinny, floury rolls are a staple on the menu made up of tasteful snacks, which are available from open until late.
The French breakfast plate ($9.50) comes with half a baguette on the side of salted butter and housemade hazelnut spread and strawberry and jasmine jam. Although the spreads are very flavourful, it feels a bit pricey for what you're getting.
Ham and Swiss ($11) is a no-frills sandwich with fresh meat and cheese between a baguette.
A bowl of fresh ricotta ($11) dressed with citrus dressing and zaatar herbs also features half a baguette.
Tarama ($15) is made with a smoked cod roe imported from Paris and whisked into a smooth and creamy dip. It has just the right amount of fishy flavour balanced with a touch of lemon.
Pâté en Croûte ($15), a classic French delicacy, comes with a duck confit filling surrounded by Madeira jelly and buttery pastry dough and served cold.
Once 5 p.m. rolls around, the space starts to feel much more like a wine and cocktail bar. The old-world wines are mostly French with a few Ontario names while fanciful cocktails are available both on-tap or shaken.
The most popular cocktails on tap are Nitro Colada, the only beverage shared with both locations, and Paloma Quemada.
The latter of the two ($17) is prepared with nettle, whey, lime, tequila, mezcal, and gets a burnt grapefruit for garnish.
Another favourite, 11 a.m. in Marseille ($16) is an elegant take on a classic French drink, the Mauresque. Expect a combination of Ricard (a French licorice-flavored aperitif), beeswax, roasted almond orgeat, lemon and egg white.
A cozy patio adorned with twinkly lights and shady trees can be found out back, seemingly far away from the comings and goings of College Street.