An espresso bar and cafe with amazing tea, delicious scones, and adorable macarons among other afternoon tea-style sweets and treats? In the picturesque neighbourhood of Yorkville? That’s a cafe after my own heart! Yorkville Espresso Bar, located at 3 Yorkville Ave. just west of Yonge Street near the Toronto reference library and just steps away from the Cookbook Store and my beloved Italian-vegetarian Mela Cafe, is a new cafe that just opened up last year and after my very first visit, I think it’s a wonderful and splenderific addition to the neighbourhood. Brunch, vegetarian, Mexican, ice cream, macarons, Italian, Middle-Eastern, pub classics, and now a new espresso bar and cafe – aside from Kensington Market, Yorkville is truly my ideal place to eat to my heart’s content.
I know, there are plenty of cafes in the area including Lettieri and Zaza, not to mention around the city in general, so what makes this space so great? The thing about cafes is that they have to offer something different, something a little more unique in order to stand out from the others. Because let’s face it, it’s not like we have to go very far to fetch an Americano, a cappuccino, or an espresso and while yes, every cafe will have their own way of making these drinks, it’s the atmosphere and the food goodies that accompany these drinks that will make us foodies feel compelled to come back for more. Some cafes offer the comfort factor with plushy seats to relax in while you read, sip, munch, or type away on a laptop (or a tablet, sigh), others are great as meeting spots for friends, and then the are the ones that are fabulous purely for the food and drink. THIS would be Yorkville Espresso Bar’s forte.
It’s a small space so you wouldn’t necessarily see large groups inhabiting it, but it is cozy enough for you to sit down with a friend and a coffee, tea, and light meal or snack. And let me just say, Yorkville Espresso Bar is awesomesauce in the food and goodies department. There is something here for everyone: the sweet tooth, the vegetarian, the gluten-intolerant, and the just plain hungry! Often times I’ll shy away from certain spots, not because I think their drinks are bad persay, but because I want something a little more special than baked goods wrapped in saran wrap in a basket or baked goods that look as though they just got a shot of steroids and a bath in grease. That could be the food snob in me tsking but really, it’s unappealing and I know I can’t be the only one who feels this way!
Yorkville Espresso Bar is great though because their selection of food and sweets changes on a pretty consistent basis (from what I gather on their Facebook page where they announce menu items for the day), they’re always coming up with new and unique yummies to showcase, they offer a number of gluten-free menu items (see below in the next few paragraphs for examples!), and you know everything is fresh and hot off the press because the adjoining kitchen studio that handles the baking, cooking, and catering for the espresso bar doles them out throughout the day. They were already baking their 2nd round of scones at 10am on a Sunday morning because they sold out of their 1st round. Can you believe it?!
Oh! And I can’t forget about their tea! I honking LOVE the tea. They get their teas from Ste. Anne’s (Ste. Anne’s Extraordinary Teas), which is actually a spa located in several spots in Ontario (Grafton and Port Hope) and the whole concept behind the tea is driven by the relaxing spa experience. I had their black tea coconut tea with my cinnamon scone and strawberry marshmallow macaron (I KNOW – MARSHMALLOW!) and I loved it to itty bitty pieces.
Their food menu is insane. Let’s start with the savoury, gluten-free muffins first. These are items that have graced their display case of goodies over the last few months:
- sweet potato chocolate chip muffins
- sweet potato and cranberry muffins
- carrot and beetroot muffins
- blueberry flaxseed muffins
- gluten-free, vegan chocolate zucchini muffins!
Other savoury bites include jalapeno cornbread, brioche with dates, Parmesan, and thyme, 8-year old cheddar and chive scones, and bacon and thyme scones. Okay, now the sweet stuff including cupcakes, gluten-free sweet muffins, sweet scones, chocolate and confectionery, and more:
- mini chocolate cupcakes with mango and Nutella frosting and dried mango
- mini chocolate cupcakes with mango buttercream frosting
- mini chocolate cupcakes with mocha buttercream frosting
- mini chocolate berry cheesecake cupcakes
We’re not done: chocolate cheesecake brownies, mini chocolate almond cake loaves, coffee walnut cake loaves with oat topping, pecan butter tarts, coconut cookies, peanut butter cashew cookies, chocolate hazelnut cookies, chocolate pretzel toffee, blueberry scones, cinnamon scones (what I have on my plate!), peach muffins, pumpkin muffins, gluten-free cherry, carrot, lemon poppyseed, and banana muffins, gluten-free strawberry, ginger and yogurt muffins, pumpkin pie with chocolate chips, and apple crumble.
And their macarons! Peanut butter berry, lime, dulce de leche, strawberry, Nutella, lychee vanilla, caramelized banana and chocolate, mint chocolate, rose petal, Ontario grape, and almond and strawberry with marshmallow – what I have on my plate!
And yes, you can have lunch here as well! Their specialty is definitely sandwiches (think brioche and panini), wraps, and soups and they emphasize their usage of local and/or organic ingredients in their food. Obviously we know bananas don’t grow in Ontario, hence why I say “and/or” local/organic. They’re very upfront about their nutritional information and where their food comes from, so if you have questions, just ask because they would be happy to tell you. Wraps and sandwiches include vegetarian quinoa and spinach, chipotle chicken, Niagara ham and provolone on brioche, curried vegetable with spinach, corn, lentils, and broccoli, and so much more.
Phew! All this food makes my head spin! It’s insane. This is food heaven. I just love it when you can find fabulous things like cupcakes and macarons at places that aren’t necessarily classified as cupcakeries or patisseries. It just goes to show that you have to explore all the nooks and crannies in the city to find these gems. If you only ever went to exclusive cupcakeries and patisseries for cupcakes and macarons, for example, you’d be missing out on other wonderful yummies elsewhere. Top-notch stuff, everyone.
Yorkville Espresso Bar is located at 3 Yorkville Ave., just west of Yonge Street and north of Cumberland St. They are open 7 days a week from 7:30am-7pm Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm Saturday, and 9am-5pm Sunday.