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Dark Horse on Spadina

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Walking on Spadina, north of Queen, noticed what was a glass art store/gallery in the Robertson Building is now papered over and there's signage for Dark Horse. I've never been to the cafe on Queen East, but presumably it's the same guys as the signage also mentions "espresso".

This is a great addition to the neighbourhood! It's a pretty big space. It's interesting they decided on this location on the southern edge of Chinatown. Their closest competition would be Le Gourmand and there's all of the coffee places within Kensington (Moonbeam, Louie's, etc).

Anyone have any more info?

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  1. if this is true: YES!! woohoo :D

    1. The rumour is true....Ed & Deanna have been hard at work the past few months to open their 2nd location. I'm too lucky, I live in Leslieville and the new spot is a block north of my office : )

      1. The big selling point beside the good coffee at Dark Horse is the communal table. I hope they retain that feature for the new location.

        11 Replies
        1. re: hill hunter

          i saw it passing by today and was thinking it was their first day likely....

          i was looking from a distance but the two communal tables don't seem to have the same raw industrial edge as the previous one and are a good large size. the seating was all eames and so overall it seems like a slicker version of the more industrial loft like feel of the previous one. i love the faux tin ceilings of the one on queen east. it looks quite large as well so i hope they can generate the business they need to fill it though i can't say it was easy to find a seat at the east side one.

          will try to drop in for a coffee sometime soon. last time it was rather burnt tasting and turned me off.

          1. re: pinstripeprincess

            Rumor has it that one of Toronto's barrista champs who is widely considered the best will be pouring shots there. If that is true, man am I ever sold.

            1. re: goodcookiedrift

              You're talking about Sam James, I saw him there while I was walking by today. I lost track of him after he left Manic but I'm glad he's at DarkHorse. I pretty much only go to him for an Espresso. Nice guy and really passionate about what he does.

              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                He's been working with Jamie Kennedy and running his Barista academy. I will certainly support this Darkhorse location if he shows up. Not only will he pour amazing shots but his entire staff will likely be better trained then anywhere else. The drop in quality at Manic when he left was noticeable and regrettable.

                1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                  As of about a week ago, he's still at Hank's Cafe (connected to Jamie Kennedy Wine Bar). I hope he doesn't leave Hank's because it is right around the corner from me.

                  1. re: kwjd

                    He's doing both, splitting his time between Hanks and Dark Horse.

                    I was in Dark Horse and had a cap (not poured by him). He asked me what I thought. I said it was meh - good but not outstanding. He then went back behind the bar and discreetly instructed to his staff on what changes to make.

                    This is exactly why I follow Sam to whatever shop he's working at. The level of quality that he demands is second to none.

                    And to be honest, in these economic times, if I'm spending close to $4 on lattes, I appreciate it that much more if shop/barrista cares about the quality to that extent.

                    1. re: goodcookiedrift

                      i'm expecting to spend copious amounts of time at dark horse soon... you've got me all excited. i noticed a drop in the quality of the product at manic and it is likely attributed to his leaving! though it wasn't bad espresso for me so much as much too milky latte if one can imagine that.

                      1. re: pinstripeprincess

                        I can't comment since I never have the espressos at manic, the clover is what I go in for and it is still great.

                        I find that most good baristas in the city tend to work at multiple shops, it's kind of an incestuous family split between the shops (mercury, dark horse, manic, etc). Seems like all the owners don't mind sharing hired help.

                        I also have no desire to drink coffee after 3-4pm, caffeine keeps me up much more than it used to 10 yrs ago.

                        1. re: aser

                          The quality in all areas dropped off significantly when Sam left Manic. The product was lackluster and inconsistent; the service while sufficient, lacked the gregarious and informative personality that Sam brought day to day.

                          Aser, when Manic opened, I think a lot of shops woke up and realized how much this industry could grow. Additionally, I think a lot of them realized just how important a "Sam James" type of barista is to their business. I don't think it's really a matter of "sharing" as it is realizing how valuable that type of person is to have. Most shops have that type of barista: Mercury has Matt, Cherry Bomb has Johnny, Dark Horse/Hanks have Sam. Manic HAD Sam and it's no secret that quality fell off considerably after his departure.

            2. re: Muffin__Top

              I popped in today to grab a tea after work.....very pretty! Two communal tables and some lounge seating as well. Wish they can extend their hours though right now it's 7-7.

              1. re: deabot

                ha! typical coffee house hours it seems... i think le gourmand in the same area keeps to the same time frame as well. would love if i were open later though.

                while it's not a necessity for me... did you happen to notice if they had wifi available and if it was free or not?

            3. Sorry for the late bump but I've been meaning to try this place, so I stopped in for a cappuccino this morning and it was fantastic

              2 Replies
              1. re: gegtik

                Anyone know anything about Queen B? The place that supplies Dark Horse’s edible goodies? I tried their flourless, butterless chocolate walnut cookie at Dark Horse today and loved it. It was genius. So soft, chocolatey and walnuty. Damn it was good. Almost as good as Harbord Bakery's chocolate brownie cookie. Almost :) It was very good. Haven't tried any beverages there yet, but am curious about this Queen B.

                1. re: magic

                  the brownie at Dark Horse is heavenly as well. Mmmm...fudgy! Goes well with a latte! The buttertarts are yummy too, but a little too runny though.