It’s the neighbourhood pub experience but better.
The Commoner Bar Room in Toronto’s Little Italy neighbourhood is the second outpost of the Commoner, a popular family-friendly gastropub located in Roncesvalles neighbourhood. The restaurant’s handsome decor and classed-up pub fare don’t stray far from the standard set by original location.
While the original Commoner is geared towards its location in family-oriented Roncesvalles, however, the Commoner Bar aims to appeal to its own neighbourhood. Rebecca Ananda, manager at the Commoner Bar, says that meant putting a stronger emphasis on the drinks program at Bar Room to keep it on par with nearby heavyweights like Bar Raval and DaiLo.
At the same time, Bar Room aims to be a more affordable, relaxed alternative to Little Italy’s tonier destination restaurants. “We wanted to have a place that’s elevated but also really comfortable,” says Ananda.
The Commoner Bar Room is a modern, stylish reimagining of a traditional British Pub. Classic design details like exposed brick and a mix of dark and light woods are complemented by jewel-toned accents. The aesthetic is an apt reflection of the restaurant’s menu: Elegant but approachable.
A large patio tucked at the back of the long, narrow space is a hidden gem for summer dining. It’s bright and peaceful, decorated with rustic wood and lots of greenery.
The food and drink
The Commoner Bar Room’s food menu is all about crowd-pleasing pub fare done well.
The Commoner Bar Room features many of the popular favourites as its sister restaurant, including braised beef sliders served on a mini brioche with horseradish aioli; and crispy tempura-battered buffalo cauliflower. The Commoner Board, which can be shared between up to four people, is a nice option when you want to sample a little bit of everything while having a few drinks. It comes with ribs, Cajun honey chicken, braised beef sliders, jalapeño cornbread, caesar salad, cabbage slaw, and fries.
“It’s got a little something for everybody,” says Ananda.
Although there’s a good selection of draft beers, the drinks menu emphasizes wine and cocktails.
“We see ourselves as that place where you go to get a little bit fancy drunk,” says Ananda.
The Commoner’s cocktail program focuses on spirit-forward drinks. There’s a good mix of established drinks like a Paper Plane served with a tiny paper airplane on the rim, and original concoctions worth exploring like the Botanical Spritz with vodka, elderflower, bitters, cava and grapefruit.
The wine list is a balance of Old World and New World bottles, highlighting characteristic wines from various regions, such as an Australian shiraz and a Niagara riesling. Ananda describes it as “the highest quality wines I could get for a reasonable price point.”
The essential order
Start your meal with the Tuna Tostada, a brightly-flavoured dish that sees a crispy baked tostada topped with a refreshing combo of avocado, apple, jalapeño. pico de gallo, feta, garlic, sour cream and cilantro. It’s a pleasant, light appetizer to contrast with the heartier main dishes.