Bellwoods Brewery is a neighbourhood favourite that's best known for serving freshly brewed beer and elevated pub food on the Ossington strip.
Since opening in 2012, owners Mike Clark and Luke Pestl have always wanted to expand the kitchen and indoor dining space by taking over its neighbouring space at 124 Ossington.
That vision finally came true this year with the brewery adding more than 1,000 square feet of dining space, an expanded bar, plus a bigger kitchen which now operates separately from the brewing area.
Futurestudio, a Toronto-based design agency, is behind the refreshed look of the new addition that's best described as woodsy and warm.
Oak flooring spans the room that's filled with brown leather-lined banquette seating and wooden benches. Old portraits of Trinity Bellwoods and the surrounding neighbourhood line the open room's exposed brick walls.
You'll find eight extra seats at the bartop occupying the space between the original room and the new addition.
The remaining space retains Bellwoods' clean and minimalist look. The building still has a garage-style door inherited from its pre-pub life as an auto shop.
The door retracts to provide more space for tables in addition to the street side patio that operates in warmer months.
The Bellwoods Bottle Shop entrance is located to the right of the garage-style door. Here, you'll find a rotating list of 23 different beers for sale including their very popular Jelly King, a sour beer that is responsible for 30 per cent of the production at the brewery.
All the brewing magic happens behind the shop. You can spot the fermenting tanks and pipelines running across the room from the mezzanine inside the OG dining area.
This is where Bellwoods has created a whopping 634 unique beers over the last decade. Their recipes have not only captured taste buds across Canada but also around the world through partnerships with international brewers like Brasserie de la Senne in Belgium.
One of the newest beers in their popular Jelly King line is the Montmorency Cherry flavour ($9.00 for a standard 16-ounce pint).
It's an easy drinking sour that stands at 5.6 per cent ABV with a good amount of hoppiness. I enjoyed the sweet notes in this cherry version.
The combination of the tart and juicy fruit with the fuzzy peach, tangerine, and grapefruit flavours found in the original dry-hopped ale packs a punch.
Besides the beers, Bellwoods' food is worth your time too. Chef Jay Browne has been running the kitchen since 2014 and sources ingredients from local farms in the array of fresh and flavourful dishes served on the menu.
Choose from lunch that runs from noon to 4:30pm or dinner served between 5pm to 11pm. Both menus are pretty similar, although there are fewer options at lunch that offers items like a deep dish quiche.
I suggest pairing the Jelly King Montmorency Cherry with the Scallop Crudo ($23.00). The dish features five tender pieces of scallop on sweet corn puree that's drizzled with chilli oil.
Each scallop is topped with crispy bits of bacon, garlic and chives which add crunch to each bite. I found the dish very flavourful and hit the spot.
A staff favourite is their Duck Hearts ($3.00 for two skewers). It's definitely an adventurous choice, but I promise it's one you won't regret.
The organ meat is grilled and comes garnished with barbacoa sauce. The latter adds smokiness to the duck hearts and a pop of colour to the plate.
Crushed pumpkin seeds are sprinkled on top to give the bites a bit of textural contrast.
I also tried the Double Ghosted Orchid with Phantasm ($8.50 for a pint). The double IPA charts at 8.0 per cent ABV.
A pint of this is suited for those with a palette that appreciates bitter flavours. The double IPA is made using Nelson Sauvin hops that are often described as adding a grape-like flavour to beer.
I taste white grape, as well as mandarin orange, and pine in the vibrant drink.
For my main course, I had the Steak Frites ($36.00) which features an 8-ounce medium-rare flat iron cut of meat that's grilled using charcoal.
Each slice of meat is thick and juicy. There's also a black trumpet mushroom and chive butter topping the steak which adds a delicious smokiness to the dish.
A heavy helping of classic, crispy french fries comes on the side that has also been tossed in the chive butter. Whether you eat on the outdoor patio in the summer months or hang out inside Bellwoods' new indoor seats when fall approaches, both spaces offer an intimate dining experience that makes you feel like a part of the neighbourhood.