City Bites

World-class beer and food — name of the game at the new Bar Lupulus

The logo above Bar Lupulus (1242 Wellington St. W.) is a stylized drawing of a hops flower. Those familiar with Latin will recognize that Lupulus is Latin for small wolf, while Humulus lupulus refers to common hops, an allusion to the plant’s voracious nature toward other plants. As one of the Bar’s partners, Anthony Spagnolo, explains, the name speaks to their vigorous approach to making beer front-and-centre. “We’ll be treating beer with the same respect as wine has traditionally enjoyed,” he says. The chef and partners hope to “take diners who appreciate good flavours, and open their palates to the beers and natural wines as well.”

It’s all becoming clear — this new eatery – which opens Tuesday, Oct. 23 – in the former Flying Banzini spot has esoteric leanings and a beer-forward flavour to it.

The chef in charge is Jeff Bradfield, formerly of Erling’s, who is promising a Mediterranean-focussed, farm-to-table menu, in which he incorporates his favourite flavours into charcuterie platters, raw bar plates, and pasta dishes. He’s joined by co-conspirator Blain Wagg as sous-chef (the two have worked together at Erling’s and Social).

Sous chef Blain Wagg (left) and Chef Jeff Bradfield make final preparations in the kitchen
Sous chef Blain Wagg (left) and Chef Jeff Bradfield make final preparations in the kitchen

Beer lovers will be intrigued by their plans to have 20 rotating beers on tap and up to 50 bottles from around the globe. (Natural wines will also be a focus.)

City Bites sat down with Chef Bradfield (and his four investment partners) as he put the finishing touches on the Bar Lupulus menu:

Brussel sprout salad: Guanciale/cashew/rice aioli/crotonese and basil
Brussel sprout salad: Guanciale/cashew/rice aioli/crotonese and basil

Menu Sneak Peek

Two raw items:

  • Bresaola/Fennel/Goat Cheese/Cloudberry/Basil (Carpaccio)
  • Scallops/Espresso/Pancetta/Crabapple/Serrano/Lemon Balm (Ceviche)

Two pastas:

  • Agnolotti/Sunchoke/Brodo/Rapini/Almond
  • Angelhair/Clams/Fermented Eggplant/Pernod

Two mains:

  • Porchetta/Parmesan Potato/Fennel
  • Roasted Cauliflower/Pea/Hops/Truffle/Nutritional Yeast
Cavolfiore: Roasted cauliflower/pea/capers/truffle/nutritional yeast
Cavolfiore: Roasted cauliflower/pea/capers/truffle/nutritional yeast

The Pairings

A huge beer menu focuses on sour beers, barrel-aged beers, and natural wines, with flavour profiles that pair well with the chef’s menu of raw foods, homemade yeasty breads, cured meats, and cheeses.

The Setup

Along with regular seating, there is bar-side seating and a separate six-seat raw bar at the back of the restaurant with views of the chefs prepping and plating.

Special Events

Look for the team to host regular tasting events once they hit a rhythm. An example? We hear Nickel Brook Brewing [out of Burlington] is planning a temporary takeover of the taps not long after Bar Lupulus opens.

The Partners

The founding partners knew they wanted to open a world-class beer destination in the capital, but wanted to ensure that Bar Lupulus would also be a true food destination. The four (Stephen Borchuk, Tyler Beckett, Mike Davies, and Anthony Spagnolo) all have a strong knowledge of the restaurant industry, with two boasting Cicerone Certification.

Hours: Bar Lupulus is open daily for dinner for first few weeks, then will extend hours to include lunch and brunch as routines become established.