Mulberry Bar, from the owners of Northwood, is now open
Mulberry Bar is housed in what was once Bloor West taco joint Mexitaco – not that you’d ever recognize it. After a four-month reno process, it’s now a stunning, greenery-laced room crowned with a custom-built Parisian arcade.
No, that’s not actually natural light streaming down into the bar – owner Richard Pope, who also runs Northwood, explains they used florescent lights bounced off the ceiling – but with a cocktail in hand, you’d never guess.
“Basically, I’ve been obsessed with Parisian arcades from the 1880s, 1890s,” Pope says, before launching into a quick history lesson. “It was a time period in architecture in which iron and glass were used together. These used to be built over passageways in Paris, with doors on either side, so people could be in there even when it was raining. They were basically the first malls, and to this day, mall architecture often has these sort of designs. The Eaton Centre is based on Parisian arcades of the 1880s.”
Most bar owners wouldn’t want to split their draw by opening up a spot just down the road, but when the space was offered to him by the seller – his landlord at Northwood General – Pope couldn’t pass it up. “She wanted to have it stay in the community. It had been in her family for 30, 40 years. She didn’t want someone to just buy it and flip it.”
Now the full history of the building is on display, down to the exposed original foundation in the cozy lower-level seating area at the back of the bar (which, by the way, is sure to be date-night central when the weather cools down).
Pope took a year to source everything in the bar, from the vintage point blanket to the windows mounted to the ceiling that host a collection of plants. (Those are from Smash in the Junction.) Others are mounted onto pulleys for easy watering. “We want it to kind of look like nature taking over,” Pope says.
The menu reflects the vibe of the interior – “a little French, a little tropical, like a journey through the French Riviera,” as Pope puts it. The cocktail list features punches of fruity flavour offset with French aperitifs – the Palm Court ($14), below, recalls an After Eight and a mimosa all at once thanks to tequila, cava, crème de cacao, crème de banane and a little mint.
Northwood regulars will recognize the signature Manhattan, as well as the cinq à sept deals – though here, they’re for wine instead of beer.
Just as with Northwood, there’s a menu of light snacks, including a half-dozen cheeses available with jam, fruit and toast, plus chicken liver mousse, veggie pâté and French cured sausage with pickles.
In addition to the interior, there’s a cute side patio that adds a little extra street-side bistro feel. “I like the idea that there are distinct spaces, different environments – people can choose their own adventure when they come,” Pope says.
Mulberry’s only been open for a couple of weeks, but it’s already a hit with the neighbours. Says bartender Emily Copeland, “On our first night we opened the door, a guy came in and got down on his knees and was like, ‘Praise the lord!’”
828 Bloor West, at Shaw, mulberry.bar
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