First Look: Bar Reyna

bar reyna

The Cataplana (Image: Libby Roach)

Vv Magazine’s food writer, Libby Roach, gets an up-close first look at the highly anticipated Yorkville restaurant, Bar Reyna – a welcome addition to one of the city’s most affluent neighbourhoods. 

Bar Reyna is set to change the face of Yorkville when it opens this Monday on the 23rd of May, rejuvenating the space and giving the area exactly what it needs: a fun, eclectic and glittering new restaurant perfectly situated on Cumberland.

The vision and project, by Vv Magazine’s own Nicki Laborie, set into motion when Caren’s Wine and Cheese Bar shut down late last winter. Nicki had long wanted to open a restaurant of her own, after consulting and working for many restaurants in the past.

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Inside Bar Reyna (Image: Libby Roach)

Yorkville is having a huge moment in the dining scene and the timing just made sense for Bar Reyna to finally be crowned. After months of renovations, the space is a unique find in a sea of Edison bulbs and bare bone restaurant interiors. Here it’s all about the glamour, from the copper bar that beckons a touch of the gem coloured leather chairs and banquettes, you can tell this design is geared towards sophisticated comfort, suitable for anyone.

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Inside Bar Reyna (Image: Libby Roach)

Moroccan lighting is as glamorous as it is photogenic, sure to generate a ream of Instas in its honour. Gold is seemingly folded into the walls, giving the room a distinct jewel box vibe. Sprawling over two levels including a front and back patio (which features a retractable awning for year round use), the new bar is keen on making a splash in the neighbourhood, a feat easily accomplished by mixologist Mana Moghadam.

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The Mezcal Smokeshow (Image: Libby Roach)

Trained by Blowfish legend Nishan Neplungoda, Mana’s drinks are carefully curated with made-in-house syrups and spices like the Mezcal Smokeshow ($18), rimmed with Hawaiian Black Salt and hints of smoke laced through the boozy concoction. The Prickly Beach ($14) brings cinnamon and pear together for an earthy and savoury mixture, but the real showstopper is Her Royal Highness ($30). Served in a copper pineapple, this picture-worthy drink is meant for sharing with 4oz of the hard stuff to get cocktail hour started.

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Her Royal Highness (Image: Libby Roach)

The food is also meant to be shared, to linger over and enjoy with friends. Chef Omar Ma (ex-sous chef at THR&Co) is running the show, cranking out Middle Eastern and Spanish-style cooking, a skill he honed while working with Chris MacDonald at Cava.

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The Cataplana (Image: Libby Roach)

Plates like the Cataplana ($58), with half a lobster, clams, mussels and monkfish, are satisfying comfort food with a Portuguese influence, the right amount of heat and are convivial for sharing.

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Spinach and Feta Borek (Image: Libby Roach)

Spinach and Feta Borek ($10) are tidy pockets studded with sesame seeds and served alongside a lemony Greek yogurt, with a drizzle of honey.

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The Veggie Pot (Image: Libby Roach)

Ladies who linger over cocktails will appreciate the Veggie Pot ($18), an adorable Peter Rabbit style basket, stuffed with green olive tapenade, tzatziki and hummus, and a bumper crop of crudité for dunking.

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Merguez Lamb Pide (Image: Libby Roach)

Merguez Lamb Pide ($16) is deliciously savoury, topped with a smattering of fresh herbs and dollops of Greek yogurt.

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Veggie Panini (Image: Libby Roach)

Lunch starts at the end of the month with the easy and accessible Veggie Panini ($15), layered with grilled zucchini, eggplant and peppers slathered in pesto, served on locally made sourdough bread. Pair and share it with a pal by adding the Cobb Salad ($18), a Spanish-style reimagined with chorizo instead of bacon, manchego cheese, a perfectly poached egg and pickled onions.

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Cobb Salad (Image: Libby Roach)

Nibbles are given serious treatment here with five French fry flavours to try. Painstakingly hand cut, the Spanish fries ($10) are piled high with chorizo and a side of chipotle mayo.

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Spanish Fries (Image: Libby Roach)

Nods to the Queen are everywhere; truly strong women are celebrated here. Catering to these women, Bar Reyna evokes a romantic and flirty vibe without being too floral or too serious. That’s the type of feeling that sticks with you and keeps you coming back for more.

Bar Reyna will officially open on May 23rd. Lunches to start on May 30th.

RELATED LINK: New Toronto Restaurant Openings: May 2016

What are you most excited to try at Bar Reyna? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.

Libby Roach

Libby Roach

Libby Roach has been following Toronto's food scene since 2011, stalking chefs, overeating and indulging to bring you the best bites in Hogtown. You can follow her new food adventures over at AuburnLane.com
Libby Roach
  • congrats Nicki! So sorry we are not able to attend the media opening on the 31st. Bon Chance!