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Food & Drink

What’s on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails

By Caroline Aksich| Photography by Caroline Aksich
What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails

Name: Founder Bar Contact: 1282 Dundas St. W., founderbar.com, @founderbar
Neighbourhood: Little Portugal Previously: The Saucy Pierogi Owners: Kendall Collingridge and Brad Gubbins Chefs: Kendall Collingridge (Hooked, Spirithouse) and Debbie Dam (Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar)

The food

“I love umami—that fifth taste that makes you go ‘Oh man, I want more of that!'" says Collingridge about his bar snack menu, which in true Toronto fashion has no geographic anchor. Instead, flavours from around the world are mixed and matched in small- and large-format sharing plates. Collingridge’s fishmonger background means he loves to bring in whole animals and butcher them himself, and he’s planning to develop an off-cuts special menu (think hot-smoked salmon heads and perch bottarga). His focus on sustainability can already be seen in some of the fish he’s sourcing: the Lake Erie perch, for example, is a delicious invasive species.

What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
The falafel at Founder Bar is actually chickpea-free. They’re made with potatoes that are mixed with cooked-down aromatics (onions, carrots, cumin), then puréed until they become glutinous, at which point quinoa is folded into the fritters before they hit the deep fryer. $8.

 

What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
These deep-fried Brussels sprouts are tossed in a black garlic vinaigrette and topped with crushed, dehydrated kimchi. $6.

 

What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
For Deb’s Chicken Salad, cabbage slaw is dressed in a sweet lime juice with fish sauce and topped with Thai basil, cilantro, pickled chilies, chicken poached in pho broth, fried shallots and crispy chicken skin. $8.

 

What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
Chicken liver mousse is seasoned with chorizo spices and mescal. The mousse is then topped with shaved, dehydrated egg yolks, a chicken fat “snow,” salsa verde and chicken skin. $12.

 

What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
The green curry fried chicken is dredged in a cornstarch-rice flour mix before it’s dunked in the deep fryer. The bird’s then topped with toasted coconut and served with a tom yum sauce. $22.

 

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What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
Gubbins (left) and Collingridge.

 

The drinks

More than 150 classic cocktails, as well as a few house creations that use unusual ingredients like cucumber air. And lots of champagne: “Every booth will have a champagne bucket and we’ll be bringing in different interesting bottles and rare vintages monthly,” he says. The wine program has been built around Alsace-style wines from Europe and southwestern Ontario. As for beer, the focus is on local craft (Blood Brothers, Woodhouse).

What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
The Texan in Thailand is a spicy play on a Moscow mule that mixes Tito’s vodka with Thai chili-lime sorbet, ginger beer, coconut water and crushed ice. $16.

 

What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
Frankie Four Fingers is made with breakfast tea-infused Bruichladdich scotch, Boulard calvados, Benedictine and herbal bitters. $16.

 

What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
Click Bait, made with Beefeater 24 gin, Lillet Blanc, lemon sorbet, citric acid and grapefruit foam, tastes like a grown-up Creamsicle. $16.

 

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What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
They’re also planning to offer many types of absinthe.

 

The space

When designing the 52-seat space, Gubbins and Collingridge channeled the look of the bar in London’s Connaught Hotel. Luxe details like tufted blue velvet couches and brass accents are balanced with industrial-type details (however, the “concrete” walls are actually covered in trompe-l’œil wallpaper imported from Norway).

 

What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails
What's on the menu at Founder Bar, a new Little Portugal lounge with more than 150 cocktails

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