First Look: Yonge and Eg's new hot spot Four Barrel Holly's

This trendy new bar and restaurant has a T.O.-inspired menu and an artsy interior


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The spacious patio at Four Barrel Holly's before the they open for service.

Yonge and Eg’s newest hip bar and restaurant, Four Barrel Holly’s, comes from the team of hospitality veterans behind the Irish Embassy and owners of Ottawa’s Tavern on the Hill. The name comes from a type of carburetor and references the industrial decor of the space, which is accented by neon lights, monogrammed bar stools and garage doors that open up to the street in the summer months.

Four Barrel Holly's artsy dining room.

French-born chef Denis Guiol helms the kitchen. He comes to Toronto by way of Montreal where he worked under chef Chuck Hughes (Garde Manger) and most recently was the chef of Pub Brewsky. “I do decadent food,” he says.

Three mushroom pizza with watercress ($17).

Guiol wanted to create a menu that was fun and playful and has “Montreal soul in a Toronto beat”.  He is proud to present the 51416 Poutine ($15). “My poutine is made from a 16-hour beef stock and classic mirepoix,” he says.  For Guiol, poutine is all about the gravy and the cheese curds. “If your gravy is off, it’s over,” he explains. He describes his poutine as “naughty, heavy and full of beefy flavour.”

Poutine with beef base gravy and Quebec cheese curds ($15).

The Holy Molly burger ($19), with a 100% beef patty and the chef’s royal sauce (a riff on Big Mac sauce) is topped with apple smoked bacon and a pickled salad. Guiol has incorporated flavours from the ethnic communities found in the 416 into his menu. Holly’s beef tartar ($21), for example, features satay spices, while his tuna tartar ($22) highlights Japanese flavours. Both are served with naan chips as opposed to the traditional crostini. “I want you to have fun when you eat my food,” he says.

Both the tuna and beef tartar are served up with naan chips.

Shar Davoodi, partner and general manager, points to the draught selection of 36 taps, 20 of which are dedicated to craft brews and ciders, as a source of pride. “We wanted to create a fun, relaxed atmosphere with quality service and quality food,” he adds. Everything is housemade, from the freshly squeezed juices to the syrups used in cocktails to Guiol’s condiments and sauces —a sort of obsession of his.

The cocktail program is described as modern, though the bar will happily whip up the classics for you. Blue Balls ($15), a drink made from Novo Fogo cachaça, blue curaçao, banana syrup and lemon juice is garnished with flambéed bananas.  The wine list is slowly building, featuring mostly consignment wines not available at the LCBO. Four Barrel Holly’s takes its coffee quite seriously, having invested in a Simonelli espresso machine which is used at the World Barista Championship.  Their beans are made from a five-blend mix of 100% Arabica beans from Barocco Coffee.

Blue Balls, a vibrant cocktail that tastes like a vacation in a glass.

Weekend brunch is currently in the works, but for now, stop by for a pitstop (aka happy hour) to take in the colorful art-filled room. Over time, Davoodi hopes the neighbourhood will embrace this local hangout and affectionately refer to it simply as “Holly’s”.

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Yvonne lives to eat. She’s known to her friends as the “Ask Alexa” for the best restaurants in cities all over North America. When she's not doing on-the-ground, scrappy PR for TouchBistro, she's a freelance food and drink writer and tells the origin stories, struggles, and successes of restaurateurs – veteran and new.

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