Introducing: Rakia Bar, a new outpost of the Slavic restaurant occupying the old Hrvati space
Name: Rakia Bar
Contact Info: 690 Euclid Ave., rakiabar.com, @RakiaBarTO, 647-350-4227
Neighbourhood: The Annex
Owner: Dušan Varga, owner of the Leslieville Rakia Bar outpost
Chef: Dustin Peck (The Auld Spot, Politica)
The Food: Traditional Balkan fare like ćevapi (“ché-vap-ee”), grilled mixed meat kebabs, and sarma—that’s sauerkraut leaves stuffed with a pork-beef mix (imagine a Polish cabbage roll, but tangier). Baka might not approve of the Canadian spins of Slavic fare like a rabbit goulash poutine, but vegetarians will be thankful for the hearty veg-friendly options like a meatless stuffed bell pepper.
The Drinks: Unlike the Leslieville outpost, the west-end Rakia Bar offers an extensive selection of central European beers, mostly in tall cans. A well-curated selection of rakias (fruit brandies distilled from pear, quince, apricot and other fruit) is also on offer. First-time firewater sippers might opt to temper the Balkan brandy burn with a rakia-based cocktail like the Andrić (plum brandy, ginger-honey syrup, Galliano, egg white).
The Place: The cozy room (it seats 40) is done up with wine barrels, vintage photos and a wooden communal table, and it more than echoes Hrvati bar. “Croatia’s history is our [Serbian] history, so why change it?” says Varga, who has opted to keep much of Brenda Lee’s room intact. Splashes of Rakia Bar’s signature fucsia electrify the space.
• 60-person patio that will get a big facelift for spring 2014
• $35 for a shot of 30-year-aged rakia (the oldest distilled spirit on the menu)
• 30 different rakias
• 6 Rakia Bars established, two in Toronto, four in Serbia.
• 5-7 p.m., the daily happy hour that brings $4 quaffs of rakia and $5 nibbles