11/09/10 – By ALLIE HUNWICKS
The Holy Oak Café at 1241 Bloor St. W. manages to combines that just-right amount of quirky, hip ambiance with good food and cocktails that keep patrons from all over Toronto coming back.
“We just wanted to have a few really good, quality things. So, we have grilled sandwiches with organic bread from St. Johns Bakery, really delicious cheese from Empire, and seasonal apples,” said Melissa Reid, the owner of their menu, which features everything from a classic Eggs Benny to a savoury breakfast Bread Pudding.
Owned and founded by Reid and business partner Justin Oliver, both formerly of The Tranzac Club, The Holy Oak has an inviting, homey atmosphere, largely due to the hand selected eclectic décor and the fantastic smell of brunch wafting from the kitchen.
“Most of our stuff is made here, our pastries and this and that. We try to keep it simple and keep it focused on the coffee and tea,” said Justin Oliver, owner. Their coffee is direct trade Intelligentsia, and at $2.25 for an Americano, you’d be hard pressed to find a cheaper cup in the city of the same quality.
The Holy Oak Café hopes to fill the coffee shop niche previously lacking in the area, and their list of events elevate it from simply being a resto-café.
The Oak’s Chef, Helen, cooks up a myriad of dishes using mostly locally sourced and often organic ingredients. With a burgeoning brunch menu that started out with 10 plates, it is now running closer to sixty.
“We’re doing Tuesday night dinners now, and every week the menu changes. It’s been really building. And we have jazz after and people love it. There’s corkage as well, so people can bring in their own wine,” said Reid.
Every Wednesday is board game night and it’s particularly great. The eclectic mix of kitchen style tables and soft lighting, mixed with a great soundtrack that ranges from T.Rex to early Stones and the requisite board games, make for a superlatively fun evening. However, despite the eternal allure of a rousing round of Jenga or Scrabble, it’s the Holy Oak cocktails that steal the show.
“We have really interesting cocktails and its fresh juice that we get from Juice Concepts three or four times a week so we always have really fresh delicious juice, and the cocktails change seasonally,” said Reid.
With inventive cocktail names like The Aurora, Tanuki, and Negroni and an ingredients list that ranges from orange blossom water to beet juice, the cocktail menu at Holy Oak is sure to sate any palette.
“Everybody’s welcome here. And we keep our prices down really low, so as not to alienate people who have been here for years,” said Reid.
For more on the Holy Oaks vast menu, specials and events refer to their website at http://holyoakcafe.wordpress.com/.