If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you will have seen a couple photos that I’ve posted of this place, along with my promise to blog about my experience here. Although it took me a while to actually get this up on the blog, I’m happy to finally share my fantastic brunch at Bar Begonia (@barbegonia)!
Bar Begonia is Chef Anthony Rose‘s 6th and latest installment of his empire in Toronto (along with Big Crow, Fat Pasha, both locations of Rose and Sons, and Schmaltz Appetizing). This venture is a Parisian-style bar/restaurant that serves up a pretty mean brunch.
You might have driven by the place (located at 252 Dupont St. in the Annex) and wondered what the big happy face that looks like a Lite-Brite was all about, like we did one night. The oddly-shaped space (which was apparently vacant for more than 10 years before it was leased by Anthony Rose) has large, rectangular windows at the front, with no signage or anything to indicate that it’s Bar Begonia. So unless you knew what it was, you might overlook it altogether, which would be very unfortunate.
There is a pretty mural painted at the side of the west wall that you’ll want to stop and take a picture beside, like I did. For now (and lucky for patrons) it has ample FREE parking, due to a large lot being situated at the back. But I understand Rose intends to turn the parking lot into a grassy knoll with bocce ball and tetherball – um, okay.
The interior is well-decorated, complete with a Basquiat and other interesting artwork (including a mural of naked ladies around the portal-shaped window). Not to mention, the well-lit space has marble tables and a very big U-shaped bar with a pretty pink ceiling that serves as the focal point of the restaurant.
My fiancé and I went for brunch one Sunday morning. We were fortunate enough to have the restaurant almost entirely to ourselves, which we had absolutely no complaints about. We were told it could be hit or miss for brunch – some weekends, it’s completely slammed, and other weekends, it’s quiet. So, other than having to deal with my fiancé’s mild embarrassment (he actually excused himself to go to the bathroom and asked me to send him a whatsapp message when I was done taking my top-down table shots), I could freely take as many food photos as I wanted and stand on the bench to get the perfect shot.
We asked our hipsterrific waiter, Stefano (whose style was way better than my fiancé’s and mine combined), what he recommended. He said he was “really feeling the Croque Monsieur this weekend”, so we followed his recommendation.
For us, the Croque Monsieur ($11.00) was the star of the meal. It was as good as, if not better than, the Croque Monsieurs I’ve had in Paris before. The cheese was oozy and delicious as was the ham.
The steak tartare ($14.00) was also a winner. It was served with their house-made gaufrettes, which I probably could have done without, since they weren’t particularly remarkable. But the tartare, on the other hand, was pure perfection.
Yolk porn at its finest!
Lastly, we ordered the duck rillettes served with beet salad ($8.00). Given that we ordered this dish with other, more filling, dishes, we weren’t disappointed. But, on its own, this portion would definitely have been too small (even as a bar snack).
Taste-wise, the beet salad was tangy and the rillettes were also good, but could have used a touch more salt. Some slices of bread also came with our other dishes with grainy mustard and cornichons on the side.
Overall, we really enjoyed our meal here and will be sure to return. For a mere $37 before tip, we left very satisfied! Just as a small warning, since the place does hold itself out to be a bar with snacks more than anything else, if you go here for dinner, don’t expect to get hearty plates. Next time, we will definitely sample some offerings from the cocktail menu (we hear the negronis are good) and dinner menu!