What’s on the menu at Café BluBlu, an adorable French bistro on the outskirts of Kensington Market
Including a surprising early fan favourite: cod tongues
Name: Café BluBlu
Contact: 374 Bathurst St., cafeblublu.com, @cafeblublu
Neighbourhood: Kensington Market
Previously: Good Hombres
Owner: Skyler Ma
Chefs: Skyler Ma, Arvin Ablang and Akane Hagiwara
Accessibility: Fully accessible
This new spot at Bathurst and Dundas (which is named for the sound that gurgling bubbles make underwater) is a café by day, French wine bar by night and brunch spot on weekends. Its adorable logo—a chicken-fish hybrid—was born out of a creative brainstorming session over drinks one night. (Logo designs that didn’t make it are hung on the walls in the dining space, so guests can see what could have been.)
The BluBlu team works intentionally to create the feeling of being at a friend’s house for dinner. And the place is a real family effort—the handmade menus are stitched together with canvas cloth, the space is filled with knick-knacks brought back from the team’s trips to vintage markets, and the menu is the result of close collaboration. Sometimes chef Arvin Ablang creates a cocktail for the front-of-house crew or the café team comes up with a new dessert recipe for the kitchen.
The daytime menu is a compilation of tried-and-true sandwich combos, freshly baked pastries and, on weekends, brunch. When the sun sets, there’s a selection of satisfying French-inspired dishes (read: lots of butter and meat). Guests can choose to do things family-style with sharing plates or just enjoy snacky bites—warm olives, brown butter fries, house-made milk buns—with a bottle of wine.
For something a little more traditional, the current prix fixe menu includes a choice of appetizer (steak tartare or scallop gratin), a main (duck confit or beef cheek) and dessert (crème brûlée or house-made ice cream). Other notable plates include the oxtail French onion soup and cod tongue, a Newfoundland staple that has quickly become a fan favourite at BluBlu.
During the day, coffee-based drinks include specials like the Applecano (think apple cider meets a steamed Americano) and a spicy hot chocolate made with scotch bonnet–infused ganache. The heart of the bar menu (which also lists some beer and a few cocktails) is a selection of mostly natural wine, each bottle chosen specifically to pair with the food.
An arched hallway leads from the sunny café to a moodier, laid-back dining room. Hanging from its high ceiling are pages from vintage magazines. There’s also a bar, a stack of vintage TVs and a projector playing Chinese cartoons from the ’80s on a loop. The rest of the space is in keeping with the themes of teamwork and DIY: chef and owner Skyler Ma built the tables, the vintage chairs were purchased from “the back of a guy’s car,” and a lot of the dishware was sourced on group field trips to markets.