I’ve made up my mind. And what I’ve decided is that Bar Koukla is Ossington’s Aegen oasis. I dare you to change my mind about it. The white brick walls remind me of being on a Greek island where everything is painted pearly—of course, the draping rope decorations also add to the whole seaside mood. Seated at the bar top, my best friend and I let ourselves be swept away by the Grecian ambiance of Bar Koukla and all it had to offer.
I’ve wanted to check out the eatery for a bit but they book up super quickly (they also don’t seem to ever answer their phone, but that's a tale for another day). While I’d hope to pop by during cocktail hour, a rainy Sunday morning sparked a change of plans.
Mamakas Taverna (which is located just next door) is the mother of all operations including Bar Koukla, Agora (order the otherworldly strata egg muffin!), and Souvla. Known for their elevated yet rustic Mediterranean cuisine, the menus at all locations are representative of their Greek origins, while still exuding a super contemporary approach to food. With a focus on authentic ingredients, the Aegean-inspired fare definitely fits the funky Ossington vibe.
Impressively, their wine list consists of a selection of red, rosé, orange and white wines from Greece that are mainly organic and natural—even biodynamic if you’re lucky. However, given that I can’t start drinking wine at 11 a.m., I sampled some cocktails instead.
First up was the tart Sykó + Méli made with metaxa (Greek brandy), fig, honey and a splash of lemon juice. But, it was the Filósofos, a subtly sweet bevvy made with whiskey, tsipouro (a spirit made with grape pomace), coconut, walnut and baklava spice, that really had my heart.
Whether you’re dining for brunch, lunch or dinner, the menu is all about Aegean-inspired small plates. Also known as meze, dishes range from lamb croquettes to seafood crudos, tomato salad to honey drizzled feta and naturally, fresh oysters by the half dozen.
Their brunch instead includes tasty treats like baklava pancakes layered with yogurt, local blueberries, chopped pistachios and baklava syrup. There’s also the truffle koulouri which is a Greek-style pretzel with pressed yogurt and scrambled eggs in the centre and topped with a mountain of shaved black truffle. While those items are both on my to-eat list for next time, I’m still quite happy with what I tasted.
My best friend and I decided on an order of Patates Arnaki which consisted of roasted potatoes served with a tomato and lamb shoulder ragu. Topped with a salty, briny feta aioli and fresh green onions, this dish was the perfect thing to nosh on a wet and chilly morning. Really big, rich flavours in this dish!
We also sampled the Halloumi BLT, layered with pan-fried local halloumi, shredded lettuce, juicy heirloom tomato and a few slices of crispy, thick-cut Berkshire bacon. I dare you to find me someone who isn’t a fan of BLTs! They’re such an underrated sandwich but I loved how fresh they can be. The addition of squeaky halloumi made this rendition extra unique…and may have given me an idea for the next time I make a sammie.
Overall, I enjoyed my brunch experience at Bar Koukla. I still hope to pop by for a little Greek aperitivo one day given their crazy beautiful wine selection. Prices were alright, but the drinks can be a bit steep. I like the location, though—Ossington is an eccentric little neighbourhood that always seems to have something funky on the go. Until next time, Bar Koukla…