What’s on the menu at Rhapsody, a new bar on Ossington for Nikkei cuisine and cocktails
It’s from the owner of Little Italy’s Mrs. Robinson
Contact: 214 Ossington Ave., rhapsodytoronto.com, @rhapsody_to
Neighbourhood: Trinity Bellwoods
Owner: Dan Eyimina (Mrs. Robinson)
Chef: Elias Salazar (Waska Peruvian Kitchen)
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
Back in 2017, self-described hospitality lifer Dan Eyimina opened Mrs. Robinson—an ultra-hip ’70s-themed cocktail bar and music venue in Little Italy. From its playlists to its design, Mrs. Robinson is about paying homage to the layered history of modern hip hop. In a different way, music is also at the heart of Rhapsody, Eyimina’s new project on the Ossington strip.
“I wanted to create a symphonic fusion of food, beverage and music. It’s about creating a visceral sensory experience,” he says. “I think we achieved that with Mrs. Robinson, and we aim to offer a similarly transportive experience here.” Between DJs spinning genre-melding tunes heavy on remixes and B-sides; a moody, forest-inspired aesthetic; and a menu that fuses Peruvian and Japanese cuisine, Rhapsody hits its mark as an eclectic multisensory experience.
The heart of this menu is Nikkei cuisine—the product of a long history of cultural exchange between Peru and Japan, where the former’s ubiquitous peppers, potatoes and corn meet the latter’s shoyu, nori and yuzu kosho, among other star ingredients. There’s Peruvian-style sashimi, Japanese karaage in honey infused with Peruvian peppers and whipped potato topped with an ikura-laden shrimp salad. “Besides traditional Peruvian food, Nikkei is the most prevalent cuisine in Peru right now,” says executive chef Elias Salazar.
Rhapsody’s signature cocktails (all named after lead mixologist Joe Beiglee’s favourite songs) take subtle cues from the culinary program with ingredients like Peruvian pisco and Japanese sesame oil. The restaurant also partnered with Tromba, which serves as the base of the classic tequila-based tipples—your margaritas and palomas—served in a back bar dubbed the Water Room. There’s also a tight but varied selection of beer and a short wine list that includes a few special reserve bottles. Abstaining guests can ask for a custom mocktail or a glass of chica morada, a Peruvian corn-based drink that tastes a bit like a grape popsicle.
The focus of the space is a fantasy forest motif with wood finishes: there’s a deep-green woodsy mural and dramatic plant-like chandeliers. The fantasy element comes through in metallic finishes meant to evoke water in unexpected places—including mirrored “droplets” on the walls and ceiling. A screen in the Water Room plays looping visuals featuring water and mermaids.