The Gist: Department store dining is back – with a bang!
The recent debut of heavy-hitter retailer Nordstrom in the Eaton Centre includes their all day, full-service restaurant Bar Verde, located on the third floor.
Serving up exquisite made-from-scratch fare, this is food that you’ll return for whether you’re shopping in-store or not. Maybe even on the same day.
Grub: The focus is on local, seasonal and homemade food. Ocean Wise and other sustainable options are also included. Dishes range from $5.25 to $39.95 and include starters, salads, entrées and desserts. Local providers are used including Bamford Produce, The Butcher Shoppe, Seacore Seafood Inc., and Ace Bakery. Produce and seafood orders arrive on a daily basis.
Quality control is taken very seriously. Every day, the manager goes through food and experience testing with servers. GM Jeremy Debrusk says, “The bread pudding has to come out at 110 degrees every time. Flatbread seasonings have to be just right.” A line check is done twice a day with dishes assessed on taste, appearance and process.
Libations: The full bar offers wine, specialty cocktails and beer, along with a selection of small plates.
Warm and spicy cocktails tailored for the cooler season include: The Nor’Easter ($13) with Makers Mark Bourbon, maple syrup, fresh lime juice, and artisanal ginger beer; and Smoke & Heat ($14) boasting Mezcal, housemade jalapeno syrup, Grand Marnier, fresh lime and orange juices, finished with alder wood smoked sea salt.
Cocktails are made with fresh in-house made syrups and fruits get muddled. Even grapes get gently pressed for the Vine Street cocktail ($12).
Fixtures & Fittings: The sleek subdued space is awash in a rich, earthy mushroom hue, letting the fresh food be the center of attention.
Modern paintings by North American artists are showcased throughout the dining room.
Off the Menu:
Pimento Pomelo ($14) is a refreshing and unexpected cocktail. After all, it’s not often you find sweet red bell peppers in your drink. But muddled peppers bring a sweetness that juxtaposes there Cazares Tequila, fresh grapefruit and lemon juices, and rhubarb bitters brilliantly.
Basil Cucumber Cooler ($12) with Bombay Sapphire Gin, muddled fresh cucumber & basil, fresh lime juice, and splash of soda delivers a hearty kick of lime and basil for an invigorating libation.
Roma Tomato Basil Soup (cup $5.25/bowl $6.50) Fresh soups are made every day and this one is a permanent fixture. Arriving just in time for the cooler weather, creamy tomato with just a hint of basil is the ideal warm up.
Note: The perfect pairing - Short Rib Grilled Cheese ($15.95) with blackberry jam and white cheddar cheese on rustic bread.
Soup de Jour (cup $5.25/bowl $6.50) Daily selections are also on offer. Today’s Bacon Potato Soup is like a loaded baked potato in a bowl, even finished with a scattering of fresh chives. Comfort food in a bowl with no shortage of potatoes or bacon? This could be habit-forming.
Fried Calamari ($12.50) Though deep-fried, tender squid rings soaked in milk are so lightly dusted with seasoned flour, they’re neither greasy nor heavy. Accented with banana peppers, bean sprouts, and sweet chili sauce, there’s no concern about getting the afternoon dozies.
Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos ($12.50) Tightly packed tacos in the crispiest stone ground corn tortillas are filled with moist chicken, shredded romaine, yellow pepper, tomato, fresh herbaceous flavours in the form of cilantro lime vinaigrette, and topped with queso fresco.
Skirt Steak Salsa Verde ($28.95) No need to head to a steakhouse tonight. Tender skirt steak served medium rare is expertly grilled, sliced and finished with thick Maldon salt flakes. Served with heirloom potatoes, the teensiest French green beans (you'll think they're green onions), shiitake mushrooms and seasonal squash (today: yellow and green pattypan), it’s a full meal that satisfies.
Bread Pudding ($8.95) This dessert is famous across many Nordstrom locations and it's no wonder. Is this the best bread pudding you’ll ever have? Served as a hearty slice of cake? Yes. Comprised of bread from baguettes soaked in egg whites, the pudding’s interior is moist while the edges have been toasted and finished with butter in a hot pan. Sprinkled with shaved white chocolate and served with white chocolate sauce, raspberry sauce, whipped cream, this pudding takes 24 hours to make and may be hearty in calories, but it’s worth every bite.
How Cool is This?! Calories are listed next to each dish Calories range from 290 for Ahi Poke Bowl ($17.85) to 1560 for the BV Burger ($17.25) and 1570 for the Bread Pudding ($8.95).
p.s. You can also buy jarred fresh soups and bottles salad dressings to take home.
At the Stove: Head Chef, Chef Francis Chang
FOH: General Manager Jeremy Debrusk
Deets: The restaurant seats 142 guests with seating at the bar, and in the dining room with your choice of tables and booths.
Visiting Hours: Mon – Sat: 11am – 9:30pm
Sun: 11am – 7pm
Map It: 260 Yonge St. - third floor of Nordstrom in the Eaton Centre
Phone It In: (416) 552-2920
p.s. You can also visit Habitant, their casual lounge on level two with light meals, appetizers and drinks and eBar on level one for coffee, smoothies, pastries, sandwiches and salads.
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