As you walk down Queen Street West, past the shops of Spadina you might be struck by the incredible turquoise exterior of a new spot called Bar Altura. The open floor to ceiling windows and modern music might intrigue you to look in. But it’s the gorgeous interior that will ultimately make you say, “let’s try this place tonight.”
The bar is the focus of the space as you as you walk in. It’s warm and familiar with modern elements, like the white counter and wooden stools. The head bartender, Will Publow, has stocked the back with his favourite liquors and spirits. Will suggested that we order Pasquale’s Daughter ($16) and Il Cubano ($16).
Pasquale’s Daughter has the appeal of a perfectly sweet summer drink. The vibrant purple comes from a vodka that’s infused with Butterfly pea, a vibrant purple flower native in Thailand and Malaysia. Stirred with cucumber, ginger, Cointreau and lemon juice, the pink colour is deceiving to its actual taste. It’s balanced between savoury and sweet. With the right amount of citrus to keep the drink interesting throughout the experience.
The Il Cubano contrasts the feminine Pasquale’s Daughter. This cocktail is bright green from a mixture of matcha and pistachio. Shaken with dark rum, chartreuse and a whole egg that leaves a gorgeous white foam atop of the luscious green drink. It’s earthy and light, a great balance to counter the ‘Pretty in Pink’ drink.
Now, moving onto the food. Co-owner Marcello Tomarelli suggests we start off by trying one of the offerings on the Sputini and Antipasta parts of the menu. The Prosciutto E Melone ($12) is a small plate of aged Parma Ham and compressed cantaloupe. The ham is aged in-house and sliced to order. Executive chef Marco Zandona makes most of the items in-house. Including the Arancini ($9) filled with fresh bocconcini. Which is fried golden brown and garnished with simple, fresh tomato sauce dollops.
The Lamb Carpaccio ($18) is tender and thinly sliced. The bitter herbs and pickled leeks complement the lean lamb saddle. It’s presentation is as beautiful as the tender pieces are delicious.
Digging into mains, we tried the Agnolotti Dal Plin ($22) and the Porchetta ($28). The Porchetta is slow roasted and finished with rapini and rosemary gremolata. To cut through it is like cutting through butter. The piece is tender and flavourful, comparative to an expertly cooked filet mignon. A must-try at Bar Altura.
The final dish is Agnolotti Dal Plin. The made from scratch pasta has been thinly rolled, holding a mixture of buffalo ricotta and mozzarella. Tossed with brown butter, thyme, asparagus and porcini mushrooms, each bite is a savoury and salty experience. The umami of the mushrooms adding an more depth of flavour to the morsels.
Speaking with one of the co-owners, Ricardo Chico of Redpoint Hospitality, he tells us that the concept came from a desire to offer nostalgic nonna-style Italian food with modern elements.
As for the menu, Chico says it’s excepted to change regularly based on the availability of ingredients and when things come into season.
Bar Altura Infomation
Location: 571 Queen Street West.
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 4 PM – late.
Reservations: Can be made at www.baraltura.com