August 30, 2014
Nov 12, 2012
01:59 PM

First Look: the new and improved College Street Bar

Owner Gavin MacMillan mixes up a drink (Images: Pay Chen)

You wouldn’t know it if you just walked by, but College Street Bar has a new owner, a new look, a new cocktail list, a new chef and a new menu focusing on affordable bar snacks. Simple math is key at the revamped CSB: all cocktails are $9 and all menu items are $5. 

Mixologist Gavin MacMillan has purchased the long-time Little Italy bar and given it a fresh coat of paint, added some art and staffed it with people he’s trained at his popular bartending school, BartenderOne.

He also brought in Food Network celebrity David Adjey as executive chef to create the new $5 menu. Sweet potato fries, onion rings, buttermilk chicken fingers, wings and jerk short ribs are on offer, alongside more upscale bar food like lobster corn dogs, crab cake sliders and charred tuna tacos. Portions are perfectly snack-sized, allowing two people to sample most of the 12-item menu. The combination of proteins, carbs and grease is ideal to help absorb the alcohol (this is a bar, after all).

Dry-rubbed pork riblets, above, and chicken wings with house-made sauce

It’s no surprise that MacMillan’s favouite’s cocktail, the negroni, is at the top of the cocktail list. Simply called “My Negroni,” it balances gin, Campari and Carpano Antica Formula vermouth.

While he’s known for his talents as a flair bartender, “My passion is mixology,” MacMillan says. “What I love doing is creating mind-numbing cocktails.”

The cocktail list is concise, avoiding the need to flip pages while trying to make a decision. Highlights include the College Street Car (The Kraken rum, Cointreau, lemon, cinnamon-sugar rim) and the Jumpin’ Joven (tequila, jalapeño Earl Grey syrup, fresh lime, orange bitters).

College Street Bar is currently in its soft opening phase, with a grand opening planned for Nov. 29.

College Street Bar, 574 College St., 416-533-2417

Pay Chen is a TV host, writer and producer who loves eating and writing about food. She is often asked to share food, entertainment and beauty trends as a lifestyle expert. Pay will eat off your plate, but also shares her fries. Follow her on Twitter at @PayChen.

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