Thor Espresso Bar - anyone been?
Curious if anyone has tried this new spot at Bathurst and Niagara. They're selling themselves on their super cool espresso machine, which is called the Slayer (coolest name for an espresso machine, I'll give it that). Cool Scandinavian design, pastries from Circles and Squares (paninis to follow) and some pretty good advance reviews. They also create a different playlist every day which they post on their site. It's a bit of a trek for me but I've been known to travel pretty far for a great americano. Anyone been?
I was downtown and thought I'd check this place out. I had had enough coffee but I really wanted to try one of those Glory Hole donuts and this is only one of two places that offers them right now. I wasn't that impressed when I walked in as the place looked rather sparse and not really that cosy. Turns out they had sold out of the Glory Holes and given I had the expectation of having something sweet I decided to have one of their pear & camenbert pastries. It was $4 with tax and the server asked if I wanted to have it to stay, to which I said yes and then he said he had to heat it up first and it would take a few minutes. I saw him put it in a device that had a conveyer belt (I guess similar to what they use to toast bread at some places).
When it was ready he handed it to me on a bare plastic tray with half of it sitting on a small napkin and the other half sitting right on the tray. I was a bit shocked as I expected it would at least be on a plate on the tray and with a fork. I was a bit put off by this as it looked like one of those trays you that you serve plates on, not serve the food right on top of. The first thing i thought was whether the tray was even washed as I've never been served something on a plastic tray like this without a plate. Also, this pastry, because of the fruit and cheese, is rather moist and when you lift it up it flops over so a fork wold really help. Also, the moisture made the napkin soggy too. I just decided to woof it down and leave. But when I started eating it and also discovered that while the outside was hot the inside was cold .
Anyway, it takes so little to do things the right way. The small details make all the difference. If you are going to heat it, make sure your procedure is such that it is hot right through and then put it on a proper plate with a fork. Even Timothy's gives you your pastry on a china plate when you have it in. Don't put the moist pastry on a napkin, and then only half on the napkin. And then if you are going to do that then provide another napkin because who wants to wipe their face with a soggy napkin. The whole experience was off-putting and I sure wouldn't go back to this place. I don't care how good their coffee might be or how beautiful and fancy the machine they have is.
Well, I've now been twice and enjoyed both visits. Excellent cappuccinos with luxurious creamy microfoam and a deep rich flavour. I know there is much to be said about not overheating the milk but I prefer a slightly hotter drink. My friend had the americano - crema looked good and he liked it but I didn't try it.
The tiny space (with seating for maybe 10?) is cool - modern Scandinavian design with horizontal wooden panels, a striking painted mural, Eames-esque moulded plastic chairs with cozy furry throws, etc. A stack of books from the "Hip Hotels" series and other coffee table design books. And of course, the star attraction, the Lever espresso machine, is sleek and gorgeous. The place feels different from the other indie cafes in town, more mod European and I liked it.
Food offerings are a bit scant though - there's a decent but not outstanding breakfast sandwich and a bunch of pastries. The mini pain au chocolat looked quite good, as did the muffins. I took a bite of a butter tart, though, and it was WAY too sweet - literally couldn't eat more than one bite.
All in all, a good new addition to the ever burgeoning indie coffee scene.
I went last week and was impressed.
The Slayer machine is beautiful, with a lot of solid, tooled metal and beautiful wood.
For the straight espresso drinkers out there, the shot was complex and layered. Bright acidity at the beginning, some red wine like notes and then cocoa and buttered toast on the finish.
Most espresso in the city tends to be a little one note, but this was quite the ride.
I also had a cappucino and it was executed with panache. Velvety textured foam, creamy milk with a nicely integrated coffee/chocolate flavour. No sugar required, the milk wasn't overheated and was quite sweet.
This was based on one visit, so we'll see how consistant they are in the future, but I can say I would rate them highly on the CGFS (Coffee Geek Fervour Scale).