Liberty Village is overflowing with beer, and partners Oliver & Bonacini and Calgary-based Big Rock Brewery are the latest to work the taps. Located in an old heritage building on the corner of Liberty and Atlantic is Liberty Commons, a sports bar that is sure to wet the whistles of condo-dwellers and workers alike.
A long white entryway with tiles that read “Beer Here” guide visitors to the land of suds. On the ground level to the left is the Big Rock beer shop and tap room. Here, guests can grab a quick drink (half pints are just $5) and bite off of the snack menu or take their bottles, tall cans, and growlers to go until 11 pm (a blessing for those who live in the area and miss last call at the LCBO).
On tap, brewmasters Dan Ellis and Connor K. Patrick serve up eight signature draft brews, while another two taps are dedicated to seasonal pours brewed in-house like the White-Raspberry Berliner Weisse.
For those who want to linger a little longer, visitors are welcome downstairs into Liberty Commons’ dining room; a massive 196 seat space with two private rooms and a patio in the works. The venue, like all Oliver & Bonacini restaurants, is beautifully designed, this time by award-winning DesignAgency.
Combining industrial elements like pipe light fixtures, wood tables, and exposed brick wall with leather upholstered booths, mid-century seating and round marble tabletops take the basement from damp and dumpy to warm and welcoming. And since Big Rock pairs perfectly with game days, TVs are hung precisely along the walls for cheering on the action.
In the centre of the space, visitors can pull up a seat at the bar and sip on more than just brews. Classic cocktails and beer infused creations like the Quintana Roo Michelada ($9); a caesar made with Pilsner, and the Hop Sour ($12); their take on the whisky sour shaken with Big Rock’s Citradelic, pair perfectly with British-inspired comfort food, the mainstay of Liberty Commons’ menu. Dedicated beer drinkers can order flights of the good stuff for just $10.
At the helm of Liberty Commons’ kitchen is Chef Ryan Lister. Previously of Canoe with a background in fine dining, Chef Ryan has worked with Corporate Executive Chef Anthony Walsh and Executive Chef John Horne to create elevated and imaginative offerings that are humble and approachable. Brew-in-food trends on the menu, with almost every dish on the menu given a spin with suds.
Take, for example, the Rarebit Mac n’ Cauliflower. The classic comfort dish marries crunchy bites of cauliflower with perfectly tender noodles and rarebit made with Big Rock’s Porter brew. Each bite is scrumptiously delicious, easily making it a contender for the city’s finest mac n’ cheese. Other standout dishes that have a little hops and are perfect for sharing include the Coq on a Can ($38); beer can chicken topped with Big Rock traditional barbecue sauce, and the Moby Dick Fish and Chips ($75); red snapper brined in Big Rock Pilsner and deep fried in beer batter.
Burger fans will delight at the Common Burger ($17), a fun fusion of Chef Ryan’s favourites; the Big Mac and the Buddy. Topped with Black Diamond processed cheese, beer braised onion tomato relish, and pickle mayo, each bite is savoury and worth the calorie intake.
Carnivores will also be pleased with the BBQ menu which features slow-cooked baby back ribs ($17 for a half-rack and $32 for a full), jerk chicken ($19 for half, $32 for a whole), rotisserie beef brisket ($18), and pork sausage ($15). But if it’s veg you’re after, the menu features plenty of plant-based options, too. The Charcoal Baked Acorn Squash ($14) is a sight for sore eyes, combining quinoa, goat cheese, arugula, mixed pickles, and pumpkin seeds with a sweet acorn squash that’s baked with surrounding charcoal.
As for dessert, the menu is short and sweet with soft serve ice cream served in a bowl ($4.50) or waffle cone ($6), Me Mum’s Baked Rice Pudding ($8), Sticky Toffee Pudding ($8), and Chocolate Porter Panna Cotta ($8).
Launching February 18, Liberty Commons will welcome the weekend brunch brigades with hearty hangover fare, offering the neighbourhood relief from long lines at nearby eateries come Saturdays and Sundays.
But if it’s a deal you’re after, Liberty Commons offers a number of specials. From 4 to 6 pm Monday to Friday, after work crews can grab a beer for just 5 bucks, sangria and old fashioneds for $8, and feature wines for $7. Each day (excluding Friday and Saturday) also sees a daily special + Big Rock Beer pairing sitting between $20 and $29.
If Oliver & Bonacini are known for anything, it’s for churning out hits and hot spots. Liberty Commons at Big Rock Brewery is sure to become a local favourite.
Have you been to Liberty Commons at Big Rock Brewery yet? What did you think of the new Oliver & Bonacini spot? Let Vv Magazine know in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.