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265 Davenport Rd.
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Bar Verde is a contemporary restaurant located on the third floor of Nordstrom in the CF Toronto Eaton Centre. The full-service restaurant and bar features fresh local ingredients, with a seasonal focused menu including starters and salads to entrées and dessert. The full bar offers wine, specialty cocktails and beer, along with a selection of small plates. Bar Verde is open seven days a week.

Review: Green behind the ears

By Alan A. Vernon, reviewed on January 05, 2017

Located on the third floor of Nordstrom Eaton Centre, there's an oasis of calm that undoubtedly made the rush of holiday shopping a little more bearable. Though a bit cookie-cutter corporate in appearance, it's still aesthetically pleasing with plenty of sick-of-shopping...

Located on the third floor of Nordstrom Eaton Centre, there's an oasis of calm that undoubtedly made the rush of holiday shopping a little more bearable. Though a bit cookie-cutter corporate in appearance, it's still aesthetically pleasing with plenty of sick-of-shopping sink-in comfort. Taking design cues from the mid-century modern beige craze, Bar Verde is an urban respite with a mall view, offering a fairly sophisticated alternative to concourse level eateries.

When not looking down upon the harried shoppers below, you can't help but admire head chef Francis Chang's kitchen from practically every vantage point, the open kitchen turning out nicely composed, locally sourced dishes. A novel idea like offering every table complimentary rustic loaf and oil is always a nice way to start supper, and a morally acceptable bribe in my books. Starters read like the menu of an upscale gastropub. A soup du jour chicken pot pie ($5.25-$6.50) is the perfect cold weather warmer-upper. Looking more like a chowder, its creamy contents do in fact enlist the components of said pot pie, of course, minus the crusty calories, which incidentally are listed beside every item for smarter calorie counting. On one side of the energy unit spectrum is a virtuous ahi tuna poke bowl ($17.85) weighing in at a mere 290 calories while the other side of the spectrum is the demonic Bar Verde burger ($17.25) ringing in at 1560 or a bread pudding ($8.95) at 1570.

But let's begin with Thai curry mussels ($11.50), shall we? A smallish portion is priced accordingly for Ocean Wise seafood, and the mollusks are fresh and plump afloat in a spicy red curry sauce with lemongrass and cilantro. An extra side of crostini will be required to sop up the broth, which could and should easily be served solo as a soup. But a kale and farro salad ($12.50) is plentiful, easily a meal on its own with some of that glorious chewy bread. Generous amounts of finely chopped kale is tossed together with cubed butternut squash, toasted almonds, a fine blue cheese, red onion and a smattering of farro in a zesty pomegranate vinaigrette. It is a tad overdressed, but this super-foods combo manages to absorb the flavours so it never becomes a send-back issue. On the other hand, such a thing was seriously contemplated with the BV burger ($17.25). This caloric nightmare, a fine blend of brisket, sirloin and chuck (something our smiley server surprisingly knew about as well the purveyor; impressive) is a thing of mouthwatering beauty, bursting with bloodiness in every bite. But it is so smothered in a peppercorn aioli that it's just too runny and messy to eat, and the beautiful brioche bun begins to fall apart on contact. Balsamic roasted onion, tomato and sharp white cheddar are accompaniment enough.

Even a lovely looking, old school presentation of a pan-roasted chicken ($25.95) has issues. Yes, the skin is crispy perfection, and the butterflied and flattened bird bursts with an unexpected juiciness. But the gluey chicken jus is just off-putting, not even close to what its consistency should be. Scoop it away and the dish is again salvageable, with crispy smashed spuds and nicely grilled Brussels sprouts. Lose that goop and you've got one helluva dish. While I'm at it, a classic maple apple cobbler ($8.25) with vanilla ice cream could also use a few tweaks. As predictable as it is traditional, the generous serving is nicely spiced, though my supertaster buds don't pick up on much maple. And a thick doughy layer under the oats reveals what looks like undercooked pie crust. Perhaps a bit too heavy handed on the flour? A miscalculation easily remedied.

Nordstrom has some pretty stiff competition with Saks Fifth Avenue and Leña just a block south. And between the two, I think Leña wins out. Perhaps one level down at Habitant, Nordstrom's more casual lounge with light meals, appetizers and drinks, is a better option until the Bar Verde kitchen staff has had a bit more time to iron out the early-days kinks that I feel pretty confident they will in time. Despite some misfires Bar Verde does somewhat impress, especially for being in a large specialty boutique. And men be forewarned: to get to the washroom you will have to saunter past ladies intimates. Just sayin'.

Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
All meals are paid for, including all taxes and gratuities. All reservations are made under assumed names. Menu items, prices and individuals mentioned in this review may not be up to date. Dine.TO encourages its users to share their feedback.

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