First Look: The Southern-Inspired Carbon Bar

By Suresh Doss  |  December 13, 2013

The team behind one of Canada's award-winning restaurants Nota Bene, opened its doors last night to the hotly anticipated Carbon Bar in Toronto's garden district.

Located on Queen Street East (Church), the 150 seat restaurant is a departure from the more formal Nota Bene, and opts for a casual, Southern-inspired atmosphere and food in a 7,000-square-foot space designed by Giannone Petricone Associates.

"This menu is inspired by travels, and my love for barbecue" says chef David Lee, who once again partners with restaurateur Yannick Bigourdan and Toronto dining legend Franco Prevedello for Carbon Bar. Chef de Cuisine Hidde Zomer oversees the menu, which is reflective of the last two years Lee has spent in the Southern US eating and judging this way through barbecue and grilling competitions. Smoked goat ribs, beef brisket and pork ribs pay homage to Lee's travels. "Our plate of brisket and ribs (above) keeps it simple and brings out the flavours of the meat," he says.

Mains include blackened sea bass served with deep fried strips of yuca (above) and an unusual take on a Louisiana classic - octopus gumbo (below), loaded with wood-grilled tentacles, lobster, okra and sausage. 

The snack menu is served daily from 4pm to 6pm; the late night menu featuring smaller versions of the apps and mains. For drinks, there are half a dozen inventive cocktails, a dozen wines by the glass and an approachable wine list which features bottles priced from $39 to $79. American beers and local favourites are on draft. In early 2014 Lee hopes to unveil his 12-seat chef's table located next to the open kitchen with a tasting menu.

99 Queen St. E,; 416-947-7000