The Espresso Room
The Espresso Room, a new cafe in the Lawrence and Yonge area, screams "Italia!" to me. It's a cafe with good design, clean lines-rich, and yet austere. Adding to overall Italian cafe vibe: the wide planked floorboards, muted slate brown paint, marble cafe tables, the classic dark wood cafe chairs and stools.
The warmth of the room comes from electronic candles in a mirrored pseudo-fireplace, leather banquettes and a set of enveloping cozy armchairs. They clearly added the tin roofing panels and Edison light bulbs just to knock it out of the park.
Made by a Victoria Arduino "Adonis" machine with Classic brand beans in Roaster's Pride, the espresso has the old-world taste of slightly bitter-tinged caramel ($2.00 single, $2.75 double), mellowed by the foamed milk, should you care for a cappuccino ($3.25, single shot, $3.95 double).
Keeping it real, you can still get a fresh-brewed cup of Joe on the cheap, where a small is $1.75 and the large $2.25.What a steal! Coffee not your thing? They have beautiful Sloane teas, San Pellegrino and Kiju juices, and delicious hot chocolate.
With a head baker continually experimenting, there are lots of food options, mostly fitting snugly under the Italian umbrella. You can sit on one of the taller stools and watch the latest batch get whipped up, or move to the front counter where the finished goodies are housed.
It was difficult to decide as I looked at everything displayed so nicely behind glass: breakfast biscuits, biscotti, croissants with jam or ham and mustard, raspberry muffins, chocolate cookies. I went with the spinach and orange pepper frittata (4.25$), a pillow-y round mixture with just the right amount of vegetables, great for a morning start.
I could have topped it with some a little more sensible, like a piece of fruit from the bowl on the counter, or maybe a fresh fruit smoothie, made with either the Greek yogurt or almond milk on offer for $5.00, but my sweet tooth won out. I chose a giant cannoli.
The cannoli ($2.35), with the classic pocked and crisp fried dough, was piped to order with the sweet creamy ricotta filling and covered in a generous dusting of confectioner's sugar. I can say with confidence I made the right decision.
Once the site of Papermarche, a stationary and copy shop, the space has been truly transformed by this neighbourhood cafe with its European charm. The only residual energy from the old place might be the magazine rack, full of the latest printed matter that customers can peruse for what's trending. As the cafe filled with people, I could see the Espresso Room certainly was.
Photos by Jesse Milns