First Look: Wunderland Gallery and Espresso Bar, Reverend Brother Peter Styrsky’s foray into coffee

“We did our quiet opening on Saturday,” says Peter Styrsky, the jovial, grey-bearded owner of Wunderland Gallery and Espresso Bar. So quiet that this reporter, who walks by it every day, didn’t know it was there.

The east-end house in which Styrsky and his family have lived for 14 years now sports the name “Wunderland,” and it’s becoming more noticeable with customers meandering in to see some art and savour some organic espresso. But this is a house with a bit of history.

Peter Styrsky is a reverend brother of the multi-faith organization Church of the Universe, which gained notoriety after unsuccessfully challenging Canada’s marijuana laws (Styrsky and other ministers of the church claimed pot helped them find God). Wunderland will, apparently, have no affiliation with the Church: “After this, we’re going to open a church downtown, but this is separate,” he says. “But if my parishioners come in here, of course I’ll talk with them any time.”

The concept: A small art gallery with an espresso bar. Wunderland strives to be as eco-friendly as possible, offering mostly organic products and some with fair trade certification. The lighting, arranged to illuminate the exhibited paintings — this month, acrylic/mixed media compositions by Jane Murdoch Adams — is LED. The beams, floor, bar, furniture and sign were all made by Styrsky, himself a contractor, of wood reclaimed from a 200-year-old barn. The place seats about nine inside so far, but could increase to 25 or so with the addition of a patio and possible expansion inside. The art exhibit will change every month, introduced with a party; the next is scheduled for early May.

The hood: The Beaches, across from the fire station, at Queen Street East and Woodbine.

The coffee and the eats: “The coffee is part of the art,” Styrsky says. Wunderland’s barista, David Silveira, hanging out at the Nuova Simonelli espresso machine, concurs. Coffees ($2), espressos ($2), macchiatos ($2), lattes ($4) and the like are supported by sweet snacks, including Portuguese custards you won’t find elsewhere in the area. Certified organic fair trade beans ($20/lb), are Ethiopian or a house blend.

The owner’s favourite: Canadiano ($2.25/2.75), a long single/double shot of espresso fixed however you like it.

Coming soon: Patio, website, and more food options such as wraps, grilled sandwiches or salads, depending on customer interest.

Wunderland Gallery and Espresso Bar, 1905 Queen Street East, 416-698-4634

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