Great Coffee - Balzac's - Distillery District
Ever in search of the perfect cup of coffee, latte and cappucino, I was delighted to have found that Stratford's Balzac's Coffee (www.balzacscoffee.com) have set up shop in the wonderful new development at the former Gooderham and Wort's distillery. (www.thedistillerydistrict.com)
To those of us who have been visiting Balzac's over the winter, walking around construction, film crews and enormous sheets of ice, it has been a memorable time: watching as the proprietors settle in, figure out their temperature control issues (of the room not the coffee) service the film and construction crews, biding their time until the development of the complex is complete and the inevitable masses descend on them.
It is almost time.
Balzac's roast fair trade coffee on premises. They sell both beans and esspresso bar drinks. Knowledgeable and helpful staff, knowing my fondness for Dark Roasted individual varietals have suggested both their CELEBES KALOSSI and SUMATRA MENDHELING - both of which are superb. They offer several of their own blends, the Balzac's blend the notable offering.
The sweetness of their Latte has rendered subsequent visits to Starbucks bitter and nasty affairs. I certainly appreciate the added touch of a chocolate covered Pocky pretzel on top, but the latte itself is enough.
The bar, the machine, the floors, the walls, the painting (I bet it's done by a Stratford scenic painter - though I have no idea if in fact it is) the upstairs - this place is a gem and is bound to be packed by this time next year. Go now while it's still a quiet calming experience.
While this spot remains out of the way to many, it is worth a visit, particularly to witness the transformation of the place still in progress. The complex has been home to many of Toronto's film productions, serving of late as a stand-in for a concentration camp in "X-Men" and a prison in "Chicago", but is set to be reborn in a similar fashion to Vancouver's Yaletown. For more read: http://www.eye.net/eye/issue/issue_07.18.02/news/historic.htm
Also worth mentioning here and visiting if you're in the area, if for no reason than to see how they are coming along, are the Mill Street Brewery (www.millstreetbrewery.com) - pick up a sample of their Organic Lager - and directly across the alley, if you can, sneak a peak at the bar thats been installed at the soon to be unveiled Pure Spirits Restaurant.
Note the reclaimed cobblestone that is going in throughout the complex... but above all enjoy the coffee.
I first read about Balzac's coming here in Toronto Life last year and finally searched it out recently. I fought my way through dust and debris and found it to be exactly as you have described it - well "worth the drive to Acton"! I'm looking forward to the complex's completion and plan on making Balzac's a regular lunch-hour sojourn.