Introducing: Capital Espresso, Blondie’s café spinoff that’s come into its own (literally)
When Blondie’s opened at 1378 Queen Street West, it was the only high-end coffee shop on Parkdale’s main drag. There was a constant bicycle traffic jam out front as the space became an it spot for the area’s bearded and tattooed hipsterati. A year later, the strip proved it could accommodate more hangouts (Parts and Labour, The Mascot), and Blondie’s two identities—café by day, bar by night—looked like they could make it on their own. The boozier incarnation stayed put. The coffee house, renamed Capital Espresso, opened across the street in the old Vice magazine offices on November 4.
Co-owners Damien Zielinski (Blondie’s belongs to his sister), Alex Tran and Maggie Grant tell us that lattes ($3.75) and straight-up espresso ($2.25)—both made with Origins Organic beans—are Capital’s big sellers. Just don’t ask for the espresso to be long or short; it is what it is. The Capital philosophy includes a hope that customers will simply trust the baristas’ ability to pull a perfect shot on the La Marzocca Linea espresso machine (it used to belong to Manic Coffee on College Street). Zielinski and Tran have foamed and brewed at some of the city’s top coffee establishments over the past decade. Grant, the creative force behind the baked goods, trained at the Cordon Bleu in Ottawa and in Paris. Muffins ($2.50) sell out early and range from raspberry-coconut with dark chocolate to simple mixed berry.
Exposed brick, hardwood floors and bike hooks, all left over from the Vice days, speak to the space’s hipster heritage. Huge Queen Street–facing windows allow natural light to pour over the banquettes and small tamarack tables. Eventually, Zielinski says, art exhibits will brighten up the space even more. “We wanted everyone to feel comfortable, whether they’re surfing the Web, reading a book or having an intense political conversation,” he says.
Capital Espresso, 1349 Queen St. W. (at Dunn Ave.), Facebook page.