The Libertine

The Libertine are now under new ownership, and I was kindly invited to try their newly launched snack-lounge menu. The outside of the bar was rather unassuming as there was no clear sign of the bar's name. Rather, there was a tarot card and palm reading sign brightly flashing before my eyes, so I was slightly confused. The dim-lit yet modern speakeasy was actually located in the basement level of the building. The 2000-square-foot basement retained most of the previous space's decor, which featured high counter tops, photographs, and comfortable side booths. My boyfriend and I were greeted warmly by the main bartender, Matt, who showed us to our reserved booth. We ordered some drinks, and while we were waiting the new owner, Phil, came out and introduced himself. Phil was the one who explained all of the dishes that came out, and he was very attentive, and accommodating throughout the night. 

We were shown the menu, and Phil told us that we were going to be tasting several of the items that are available on the menu. I also noticed that their menu also caters to those who have stricter dietary restrictions as they offer both vegan and gluten-free dishes as well.



 Many of the dishes on The Libertine's new menu incorporates Chef JP's Middle Eastern roots, which I could tell as many of the dishes were colorful, vibrant, and had intense flavors. We actually started the night off with Hummus & Pita ($6), which is a staple dish in Middle Eastern cuisine. The hummus was relatively standard, but I did like the texture, as there was a nice consistency to the well-blended chickpeas.  



The Falafel Blinis ($9)  - fluffy falafel, chickpea blini, date & cinnamon jam, rainbow swiss chard, pickled watermelon radish, bitter melon candy & toasted fennel/cumin Tahini sauce, were beautifully presented. Blinis are actually light pancakes that are traditionally served in Eastern European countries. The ones from The Libertine incorporated Middle Eastern influences with the layering of both the falafel, and chickpea to the mix. I also really liked how flavorful these bite-sized appetizers were, and not to mention that they are also vegan, and gluten-free.



The Coconut and Spiced Pecan Arancini ($7) - Gochujang & almond sauce, fried sage, was another vegan, and gluten-free item on the menu. The creamy risotto was cooked in coconut soy milk, which gave the ball a very sweet flavor. However, since this was a savory dish, the addition of the Korean paste, gochujang, added a nice kick, and balanced the sweetness of the arancini.

 

The Baby Clam Po'Boys ($9) - Swiss chard & mustard green slaw, apple cilantro mayo, sweet scotch bonnet sauce, was made with homemade milk buns, which were a little thick for my taste. However, it was dressed with a nice sauce that was both sweet, and spicy.




One of favorite dishes of the night was JP's Mac n Cheese Balls ($8) - Casal Da Ermida, a rich stank Portuguese cheese. Blended with fresh garlic scapes. My intital thought when I saw that Casal Da Ermida was used was that the scent would probably be overpowering. However, that was definitely not the case, as it was delicious. Normally, this dish would come with three pieces, but we feasted on a lot of food that night. The mac, and cheese were tightly packed inside of the deep-fried balls, and the cheese sauce was made with real garlic, which added a lot of flavor.
 

The Pork & Potato Asian Slaw ($9) - soy ginger lime vinaigrette, house smoked pork, potato skin chips, bbq chips, pickled ginger, green onion, avocado crema, was another dish that I really enjoyed. It was presented in a creative way; in a make-shift take-out box with wooden chopsticks. I thought that the Asian slaw was very well made, and contained a generous amount of house smoked pork that had a nice smoky flavor to them. The coleslaw had a lot of components to it, so you have to mix it very well. However, I did find that the bbq chips that were on the bottom got soggy fast when mixed. So, it would have been better if the potato skin chips, and bbq chips topped off the slaw. Overall, I thought that the shredded pulled pork tasted amazing with the light vinaigrette.



I was too full by the time the Gnocchi Poutine ($8) came out, so my boyfriend helped himself to the entire thing. The dish consisted of fried gnocchi, root vegetable gravy, cheddar cheese, and topped off with some green onions, and fried shallots.

 

I was full, but I can never say no to desserts. We ended the night off with two pieces of Churros - cinnamon butter, and coconut dulce de lece; a fried-dough pastry that are very popular in Spain. The cinnamon-dusted churros tasted great with the sweet coconut dulce de lece that I could have gone for seconds.



Overall, I enjoyed both the food, and service that we got from The Libertine. All of the staff, including the owner (Phil) were very pleasant, and helpful. We also got to meet Chef JP, who came out of the kitchen to tell us a little bit more about his dishes. He was very humble, and just completely passionate about cooking, and food. I love meeting, and talking to people who share the same love of food as I do, so I appreciate him coming out. The Libertine has since improved their drinks and food menu from their predecessor, and I think it's a very relaxing place to hang out on the weekends. Many thanks to The Libertine for having us, and we had a great time!

Address: 1307 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1X8

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Disclaimer: The food provided in this post was complimentary. However, all of the opinions expressed in this review are of my own.

The Libertine Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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