h bar toronto

H Bar

H Bar just opened on West Queen West in the space formerly occupied by Sweet Lulu . The eatery is a joint project by Kate Hancock and Phil Hubbard, two food-industry vets and former co-workers, who wanted to create a spot that fulfilled all their requirements for the ultimate restaurant: Locally-focused ingredients, a homey atmosphere, good customer service, and recipes with plenty of heart.

The new owners kept the noodle bar's modern interior, but did away with the wall-lining benches and added cozy tables to the small downstairs dining area. Upstairs, in the "sportsbar" area, there's a large TV and a long bar where you can enjoy a cocktail and a chat.

h bar toronto

The menu is Hubbard's baby; he explains the great care put into the subtleties of each dish, from mixing coleslaw to order to marinading and smoking their goat cheddar. They use hormone-free meats, and nearly everything is made in-house.

That handmade ethos even extends to the buns on the sliders ($12.39), which come in chicken, beef, bison and veggie iterations; you can order three of the same type or mix and match.

The beef (made from a mix of brisket, chuck and sirloin for extra flavour and moisture) is a standout, as are the accompanying gaufrette fries, which come with a sweet maple aioli for dipping. The buns, however, trip me up - they're tooth-stickingly dense, and I don't love the pastelike texture of the walnut, bean and mushroom veggie patty.

h bar toronto

Homemade jalapeno poppers are definitely not the kind you're used to seeing in the frozen aisle. Served three to an order, they're massive and come crusted in a thick batter; inside, there's a mix of chevre, aged cheddar, and that maple-marinaded goat cheddar. (They're also seriously hotter than the frozen version - after all, they're buying and de-seeding those peppers themselves.)

h bar toronto

Bean salad ($7.08) is a lighter lunchtime option; White, black and garbanzo beans come accented by olive oil, pickled onions, fresh herbs, salt and pepper. It's the kind of thing you'd make at home: simple, light and satisfying, though I would have liked to see a heavier hand with the salt and vinegar.

h bar toronto

If you stop by on weekends, they'll have the brunch menu on. Hubbard's pick is their French toast ($7.96), made from leftover buns ("we don't like to waste anything," he explains).

Even after being dredged in vanilla custard, the bread is still pretty heavy - only this time, you can give each piece a twirl through Hubbard's glorious bourbon maple syrup (you can really taste the bourbon) and a healthy amount of whipped cream.

h bar toronto

Their all-handmade-everything approach even extends to the cocktails menu, where they make the bitters, cure the cherries, and mix up the vanilla sugar in their Old Fashioned ($9.73).

They try to keep the beer offerings local as well, with a long bottles list that shows some impressive scope (there's Amsterdam Blood Orange Radler, Junction Conductor's Ale, and Brickworks 1904 Cider, among a couple dozen others).

h bar toronto

Though the kitchen may still be carving a niche for itself, it's great to see pub classics done with great care and a clear creative drive, pushing homey recipes to interesting new places. I'll be back to see how the menu evolves (and figure out how many dishes I can smother in bourbon syrup).

h bar toronto

Photos by Jesse Milns.

H Bar

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H Bar

H Bar

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