I am happy to announce that I have done the impossible. I have found a snack bar style restaurant that is comparable to 416 Snack Bar, yet is located just South of uppidy yuppidy Yorkville AKA my hood. For the past 2 years I have succumbed to the fact that if I want a relaxed bar with cheap tapas style portions, chill vibes and a wide selection of ‘smorgasboards,’ i would have to travel on down to Queen and Bathurst. Until now.
Bar Volo at Yonge and Wellesley has impressed the f*ck out of me. They have over 30 beers on tap changing weekly, as well as carrying 100 different types of bottled beer. The atmosphere is tavern meets Ireland (Tavernland), complete with exposed wood and beer barrels, all dimly lit by a mason jar candle placed on each table. It’s warm and inviting, and on Thanksgiving Monday each table in the place was taken, not to mention the patio was packed.
416 has always been the first place I suggest to people when they ask me where they should go in the city. It is perfect for first dates, or catching up with friends, or just to have a chill weeknight meal and a glass (bottle) of wine. If you’re like me however, you can find yourself cabbing here at 2 in the morning just in time to take enough whiskey shots that you don’t even remember how you got home. Yikes. Seriously though, how’d I get home last Saturday?
I can say with pride that Bar Volo is on par with 416, and I definitely suggest it to anyone who is loyal to the 416 snackbar scene. In fact I insist you try this place out right now. They’re still open, just go. What do you have to lose?
The few differences are that Bar Volo is a tad bit bigger in comparison to the perfectly sized shoebox of 416. It has a wider selection of beers as well as some wine on tap, and it doesn’t have a live DJ doing hoodrat thangs in the back room, which in my opinion is a shame. In a nutshell, Bar Volo is less hipster and more beer connoisseur meets snack bar. You order everything at the bar, sit down, and then you wait. If you don’t like waiting, then don’t come here for food. The charcuterie boards here tend to arrive fashionably late.
The selection of draft beers is pretty mind blowing. I am sad to say that I can’t remember the last time I got wasted off of beer, despite my incredibly belig beer drinking past AKA high school. Red wine has made getting shitfaced so much more classy, and I jumped on that bandwagon a good 3 years ago. I had honestly forgotten how deliciously crisp and creamy an ice cold beer from the tap tastes (Kingston bars excluded bc we all know that sh*t is far from fresh). I was even more surprised how much i enjoyed the Pumpkin porter. Porter is like the perfect man: tall, dark and goes down smoothly. Think of Guinness. It is a total dudes beer, but for some reason it totally hit the spot.
With so much selection, we ordered 6-8 beers between the two of us, each one different from the one before. We drank a lager drink, we drank a cider drink. Pause. Repeat.
Bar Volo’s stroke of genius is that they allow you to BUILD YOUR OWN CHARCUTERIE BOARD. Yes you absolutely read that right. They give you a list of meats, cheeses, pickled things, jams and snacks, you check mark whatever delicious things you want, and 15-20 minutes later it all comes out on an oversized wooden board ready to be demolished. Never mind getting a girl drunk, just take her to a place where she gets to pick her own charcuterie and you’re guaranteed to get to at least 3rd base. Promise.
We opted for salami, prosciutto, beef jerky, bacon jam, clothbound cheddar, pecorino, pickled beans, pickled apricots, pickled beets, a spicy pickle, warm sourdough bread from woodlot, grainy mustard and an apple walnut chutney. Un. be. Liev. Able.
Needless to say, I was drunk by the time we left (starting to wonder when i’m not). After filling up on meat, cheese and pickled things, our bellies full of bubbly pumpkin beer, we stumbled out of Bar Volo and skipped our way home.
If you’re a fan of 416, or just of snack bars in general, then you need to check this place out. Come with empty tummies though, i promise you wont be able to resist the menu or the beer taps.
New Thanksgiving tradition? Might as well.
ps. how happy are you that I didn’t make a lets yolo: bar volo joke? Trust me, It was tempting.