The Carbon Bar
By YP Contributor

Casual fine dining

The owners of The Carbon Bar are historic figures in Toronto’s fine dining scene. Yannick Bigourdan and Franco Prevedello have decades of experience that includes the Four Seasons, Nota Bene and Splendido. In December of 2013 they decided to take a different route with the opening of The Carbon Bar on Queen Street East.

“What they wanted to do was open a restaurant where you can sit in a casual relaxed environment, enjoy southern barbecue food but still have that standard and high level of service. We call ourselves casual fine dining,” explains Sam Lamonde, director of operations.

Picture a classically trained musician getting on stage at a southern rhythm-and-blues joint to rock out with the crowd. “It’s all in the details. We were all trained to the highest level of standards. I think it makes a difference,” says Sam. “Our servers wear running shoes, jeans and a T-shirt. Right away you’re like, ‘Okay I can relax, decompress and have a cocktail.’ If you want a sommelier or someone who can talk bourbons, our managers are dressed in suits and can address that level of service as well. We have that tight balance between casual and fine dining.”

There’s so much history. It doesn’t look like it from outside. You have no expectations when you walk in and then you come in to a space that’s busy, vibrant, and playing southern rock ’n’ roll. You can smell the barbecue as soon as you walk in. The vibe is simply electric. - Sam Lamonde, director of operations

Bourbon 101

The menu highlights that mix of high society with down home cooking, so it's no wonder The Carbon Bar has become well known for its barbecue. “People know us for that,” Sam says, “however everyone in the kitchen comes from a fine dining background as well, and when they created the menu they wanted to cater to everyone.”

The menu also has plenty of composed dishes like ceviche, tartars, steak and seafood. Their pit master platter offers a savoury feast of ribs, brisket, chicken and fries.

Bourbon is also a specialty at The Carbon Bar. A cart is wheeled around the floor with more than 100 bourbons to choose from. If you’re not sure what to choose, the waiters and managers are more than eager to help out. “We are very involved in bourbons,” says Sam. “You can ask your server to get you a bourbon cart and we are all trained to give a bourbon 101 class.”

Electric vibe

Being in the historical 99 Queen Street East building adds an electric vibe to the atmosphere. In fact, the Electric Circus nightclub was housed here in the ’60s and ’70s, followed by CityTV in the ’80s and ’90s and, most recently, it acted as a Disney rehearsal studio.

“You have 40-foot ceilings and when it gets busy it’s absolutely amazing,” says Sam. “There’s so much history. It doesn’t look like it from outside. You have no expectations when you walk in and then you come in to a space that’s busy, vibrant and playing southern rock ’n’ roll. You can smell the barbecue as soon as you walk in. The vibe is simply electric.”

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