First Look: Bivy, a new coffee shop and urban getaway on Dundas West
By Anna Silman
Coffee and house-made biscotti (Images: Anna Silman)
When former Midi Bistro owner Pascal Vernhes surveyed his Dundas and Dufferin neighbourhood, he realized there was a serious gap in the market. Aside from a few eateries scattered here and there, he saw a dearth of casual dining options available to the Dundas West crowd. So last Friday, he opened Bivy café.
Bivy, short for bivouac, is a camping term that refers to a temporary encampment or resting point. It was this concept that inspired Vernhes’ new café as a space to refuel and recharge.
The interior of the café has a summer camp feel, with maps and painted mountains on the walls, along with old pairs of skis and a host of other outdoorsy touches.
“There’s a lot of snobby coffee shops out there,” says Anne Conrad, a barista and server at Bivy. “And we weren’t interested in doing that — we want people to feel relaxed and comfortable, and we want to give them a place to unwind.”
Despite the rustic detailing, the 24-seat space itself is bright, modern and airy, with a long communal table and window-side counter seating. The communal table fits in well with Bivy’s ethos, which is to create a laid-back and sociable environment that differs from the conventional coffee shop experience.
“We wanted to create a social atmosphere,” says Conrad. “We didn’t want to be like a lot of those corporate chains, with everyone isolated on their laptops.”
Which means, of course, that there’s no Wi-Fi here.
Primarily a coffee shop, Bivy serves up the traditional roster of espresso drinks — using a Nuova Simonelli machine and beans from Richmond Hill’s Social Coffee and Tea Co. — serving everything from macchiatos ($2.15) to lattes ($3.50) to iced-coffee ($2.25), as well as tea ($2) and a selection of cold drinks and sodas.
Presently, the only food available is a simple roster of baked goods, with items such as croissants and pain au chocolat ($2-2.50) from Ma Maison currently on offer. However, the ultimate aim is to become a much more substantial eatery, so plans are in the works to offer sandwiches and a host of house-made pastries over the next few weeks (the biscotti, pictured, are currently in the experimental stage), as well as full a breakfast, lunch and dinner menu by September.
Sandwiches will be the main attraction for prospective lunchers, and could consist of pâté, cured salmon and fresh cold cuts, to name a few, and will likely run for around $10.
“We were planning to just do pastries for the summer, but we’ve had to speed things up,” Conrad says. “People really want sandwiches!”
Bivy, 1600 Dundas St. W., 416-534-8800