Bar Reyna opened just a few months ago and I’ve been in love ever since. It is the perfect spot to snuggle in for some fantastic cocktails and snacks with friends plus it has the cutest back patio and the most delicious brunch!
I had the chance to chat with owner and kick butt boss lady, Nicki Laborie, about her labour of love, Bar Reyna
. Check it out:
Bar Reyna is a Mediterranean snack bar and cocktail lounge where our guests can enjoy a quick snack and cocktail or stay with us all night for a delicious meal, cocktails and a fun and fabulous vibe.
You’ve been in food and beverage for a long time, what inspired you to open now?
I felt it was a good opportunity. While we all have a passion for something, and mine is most definitely the restaurant business, I think when opening a business it has to be done intelligently, no matter how passionate you are. The location was the first sign that this was a good opportunity and I went from there. Yorkville is going through a major resurgence so I chose to create something within this booming neighbourhood that doesn’t exist. A friendly and welcoming place that serves Mediterranean snacks and creative cocktails. When creating the concept it was all about complimenting the Yorkville neighbourhood which already has some of Toronto’s best restaurants. Aside from the business opportunity being good, I also felt it was the right time in my life to do this. I’ve been in the restaurant business for 25 years, 9 of which were in Toronto, and for the last 5 years, I’ve been a restaurant reviewer, which lead me to dine out 4-5 times a week. This is the best market research anyone could get!
How did you come up with the menu? (Everything’s delicious by the way)
A lot of R&D went into creating the menu! It was important to develop a menu that is well balanced so that everyone can enjoy the food at Bar Reyna. Our chef, Omar Ma, and I tried and tested many recipes. We traveled to the Mediterranean for research, brought back ideas and then tweaked them to make each our own. The flavour profile is a fusion of the Mediterranean coast encompassing tastes from Spain, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, Portugal, and a touch of France because that’s where I’m from. After 6 months of menu creation I really hope all our guests are pleased with the results. I love that a vegan can dine with a carnivore at Bar Reyna without thinking twice…and both leave satisfied and wanting more.
What’s your favourite item on the menu?
I have many! However, the signature dish I absolutely wanted on the menu, which Chef Omar has refined deliciously, is the Cataplana. A traditional Portuguese dish, the cataplana is a beautiful medley of lobster, shrimp, clams, mussels and monkfish in a tomato based Lisbon sauce. Traditionally served with potatoes and a heavier sauce, we made it our own by removing the starch and lightening up the sauce. Let’s just say that guests who have tried it ask for a larger spoon from which they can drink the sauce – it’s that good.
Your cocktails are also extraordinary, what makes them so special – aside from the fact that one comes in an actual pineapple?
Much like the food, a lot of R&D went into the cocktail menu – which as you can imagine, was a lot of fun. We worked with mixologist Nishan Nepulongoda who brought in his protégé Mana Moghadam, now our resident mixologist. Her passion is very obvious in the cocktails which are developed by her and include housemade syrups, bitters and unique flavor combinations. Again, the cocktail menu is well balanced to ensure everyone can enjoy one of the Reyna concoctions. Our signature cocktail is called Her Royal Highness, which is served in a copper pineapple and includes 3 ounces of alcohol – perfect to share with your girlfriends or enjoy it all to yourself on a lazy afternoon on our patio.
I want to come out with my girls for a fun night, which night should I chose, what should I wear and who will I potentially spot at BR?
I would say any night is a great night at Bar Reyna! Yorkville is always buzzing – even on Mondays – so I can’t choose one night in particular that would outshine another. However, we will be bringing in Djs on Fridays and Saturdays so if you want a party, those are the best nights. What to wear? I say always dress to impress. You never know if a celebrity will be sitting at the bar to enjoy some cocktails. It’s already happened.
Bar Reyna is located at 158 Cumberland St. For more info click HERE