While almost everyone is continuing to ransack the grocery stores, drug stores, and candy shops for discounted chocolates and candies (you know who you are), the bombardment of red, pink, and heart printed paraphernalia has come and gone for yet another year. What hasn’t saluted us goodbye though is our passion for chocolate and the frostiness of winter, which has managed to give us a few nasty surprises over the past two weekends! How do we remedy the stubborness of winter sleet and snow then? With chocolate, of course! The heart-shaped boxes of bon-bons might be gone (or being plucked off the shelves by chocolate bargain hunters as we speak), but in its place now are chocolate bunnies and chocolate Easter eggs, so the presence of chocolate is going to remain at the forefront of our seasonal celebrations for quite some time still.
I love my chocolate in the form of hot chocolate and chocolate cookies best and L’Espresso Bar Mercurio gave me what I like to call, my “chocolate morning”: a cup of frothy hot chocolate and a rich, fudgy, melt-in-your mouth chocolate ganache kiss! After walking past this lovely cafe and espresso bar more times than I can remember (I admit, I am on Bloor Street A LOT), I finally came here for a sip and nibble one morning and now I can’t stop daydreaming about what I would eat my next time here! I’ve wanted to come here for so long and I’ve always loved the air of sweetness and romance I’ve felt from it. It’s a place that exudes fancy without actually being over the top fancy pants. L’Espresso Bar Mercurio, located at 321 Bloor Street West, is a bright and fresh brunch and lunch cafe and espresso bar with enough coffee, loose leaf tea, lattes, and warm and cold drinks to quench the thirstiest of sippers.
Sandwiched between the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) and the Bata Shoe Museum in the University of Toronto neighbourhood, Mercurio’s is the perfect place to have brunch with the girl friends, a light business meeting lunch, and/or a warm drink and dessert with a friend. With it’s fresh colour palette of white, gray, and green, it’s a lovely coffee date destination that affords casualness with that extra bit of fancy thrown in. The cafe and espresso bar has big windows, allowing for ample natural light to stream in (perfect for us budding food photographers!) and in the spring and summer, a pretty patio off to the side for that little bit of privacy and romance (let’s not forget from where the name of the cafe is derived!).
Mercurio has a number of different menus to suit all sorts of appetites and tastes: a weekday breakfast menu, a weekend brunch menu, an everyday lunch menu, a vegetarian and vegan menu, and a huge menu of loose leaf teas, coffee drinks, and more. In addition, the dessert selection is out of this world! Pies, tarts, tortes, cakes, shortbread, giant cookies, homemade doughnuts, biscotti, dessert croissants, and sweet gluten-free options. The cafe is both takeout and dine-in, which is great for those who want to quickly hop in for a quick coffee and pastry to go, and for those who want to sit back and relax for a sit-down meal. As an added bonus, all food items come with a 20% student discount (yes, that most certainly includes university and college students!) with valid student ID. Given its proximity to the University of Toronto, it makes perfect sense.
Their menus are located right by the front door, allowing everyone the opportunity to ponder their food choices even before being seated. Conversely, you can also walk in, grab an available table first, and then hem and haw. The eatery is bar service only, which means that everything is ordered and paid for up at the cash. Servers and staff bring your food and tea to your table, but there are no menus to flip through and order from when you’re seated. All of that is done up at the front, which I quite like because it reduces the amount time it takes to flag down a server to order, for the bill, and so on.
My chocolate morning was comprised of a small hot chocolate (120z, $3.20) and a sweet little chocolate ganache kiss dessert. In a word, my hot chocolate was frothy. The chocolate was placed at the bottom of the cup to warm up and melt while hot, frothy milk was poured on top. The hot chocolate was light and milky without being watery and perfectly chocolatey without being overly sweet, artificial, or overpowering. It was simple and delicious.
My hot chocolate was totally and completely enhanced by my chocolate ganache kiss. A thick layer of rich, smooth, and creamy ganache was sandwiched between two soft chocolate cookies. It was so incredibly good. So fudgy and so soft; the texture was bang on. The cookies weren’t hard or crispy and the ganache wasn’t runny, mushy, or overly thick. Together with the hot chocolate, it was wonderful. You would think it would end up being chocolate overload (I know, such a thing does exist!), but they balanced each other perfectly. The chocolate ganache kiss lended a full-bodied richness to the hot chocolate while the hot chocolate lended an airiness.
I am so excited about trying their loose leaf teas and a number of their breakfast and lunch items. Trust that I will get around to attacking their breakfast sandwiches, vegetarian and vegan items, and other desserts! In the meantime, I will happily reminisce over my sweet chocolate morning.
L’Espresso Bar Mercurio is located at 321 Bloor Street West at the corner of St. George Street right across from St. George subway station. It is sandwiched between the ROM and the Bata Shoe Museum (the shoe museum is literally just steps away) and it is an espresso bar, dessert cafe, and brunch and lunch spot all in one. They are open 7 days a week from 7am-11pm from Monday-Friday, 10am-4pm on Saturdays and Sundays. They also offer weekend brunch.