Inside Drake Mini Bar, an all-day bar and cafe

The Drake's latest features indoor and outdoor patios, plus a seafood-forward menu and a serious cocktail list


Drake Mini Bar (150 York, at Adelaide, thedrake.ca/drakeminibar) is a new bar and café from the Drake Hotel. It’s the fifth restaurant property from the now-ubiquitous boutique-hotel-turned-hospitality-and-lifestyle juggernaut, yet somehow it still manages to feel wholly one of a kind.

Built into the lobby of an otherwise decidedly unhip Financial District office tower, with all traces of the Timothy’s World Cafe that used to occupy the spot totally scrubbed, Mini Bar is compact but still manages to pack in three distinct spaces (all designed by +tongtong).

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Natalia Manzocco

The 40-seat main bar features a dimly lit interior swathed in wood and teal accents, as well as a striking mural and artwork by Rajni Perera. (This is the Drake’s first “single-artist space” someone else will be invited to revamp the room next year.) Outside, a forthcoming patio is set to feature 55 seats and a waterfall feature.

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Natalia Manzocco

Most unusually, there’s a quirky interior “patio” space, packed with plants, geometric wire chairs and a striking pergola feature, which allows diners to watch the comings and goings in the lobby of 150 York Street.

That address may sound familiar because it’s also home to the Drake One Fifty, from which Mini Bar sits kitty-corner. The new space acts as a laid-back foil to its business-lunch-bait older sibling.

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Natalia Manzocco

“We had to make a really smart menu in terms of differentiating from Drake One Fifty,” says executive chef Jon Pong, who had a hand in developing the menu at both spots. (Here, he collaborated with chefs Ted Corrado and Amancio dos Santos.) “There, we have more bistro-style dining – more classics with a twist.”

Shareable plates, he says, are “a mantra” at Mini Bar. “We’re trying to feed people in a group, whereas at One Fifty, you just get one or two courses and you’re good. You can still share at One Fifty, but here, more than ever, it’s conducive to that style of food.”

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Natalia Manzocco

It’s also the first Drake restaurant to open after the launch of their Commissary bakery and kitchen, which acts as a feeder facility for all of the Drake’s restaurants. The breads, spreads, cured and pickled products, and other snack-friendly Commissary creations form the cornerstone of the menu.

Additionally, the team drew on the Drake’s sourcing connections to funnel local produce and seafood to Mini Bar, leveraging connections forged in Prince Edward County since former Drake Hotel chef Alexandra Feswick went to head up the Drake Devonshire.

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Natalia Manzocco

Cementing the Mini Bar as a post-work hangout is a drinks menu based around a hefty cocktail list (even by the cocktail-happy Drake’s standards). Head bartender Jeremy Cheng put together a menu of drinks created by bartenders from across the company’s restaurants, including a selection of non-alc beverages.

The sum total, Pong hopes, is a place that helps develop the Financial District’s burgeoning rep as a food destination. “I travel here for work, mainly – I don’t hang out here. But it’s turning out to be really cool,” he says. “Rosalinda’s opening just behind us. Assembly are killing it. I’m hoping we can contribute to that whole scene we’re building here.”

Here’s a closer look at the menu. 

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Natalia Manzocco

From the breakfast menu: A Drake Commissary bagel with dill-cured gravlax, onion cream cheese, capers and pickled onions ($12).

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The crepe-monsieur ($9) features a buckwheat crepe, smoked ham, melted gruyere, a fried free-run egg and chopped green onions. (Bonus: It’s gluten-free!)

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Natalia Manzocco

The signature breakfast sandwich ($8) features tomato preserve, avocado, gruyere, sprouts on an English muffin (bacon is $2 extra).

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Natalia Manzocco

Hummus toast ($6) includes a slab of Drake sourdough topped with hummus and eggplant caponata. (All these components are also available on the evening snack menu.)

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Natalia Manzocco

From the dinner menu: Octopus a la plancha ($22) comes with roasted fingerling potatoes and boquerones, plus sweet peppers and paprika.

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The kohlrabi and apple salad ($15) features tomatillo, radish, red watercress, jalapeño, cilantro and lime.

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Natalia Manzocco

Ocean trout crudo ($18) comes topped with salmon roe, chili-bonito vinaigrette and compressed cucumber. The Garden State cocktail ($12) is booze-free (it’s made with Seedlip 108, plus cucumber, fennel, pineapple, basil and lime) but packs tons of fresh flavour.

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Natalia Manzocco

The Nuevo Sour ($16) features Pisco, Novo Fogo cachaça, cucumber, tarragon, lime, egg white and bitters.

food@nowtoronto.com | @nataliamanzocco

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