logo part 1
logo part 2 logo part 3

spacer Menu:

home-recipe search

profiles of
professional beerchefs

beercooks at home



articles and reviews

beer and cheese

about the beercook and legal stuff

link to beercook!

Lucy Saunders
4230 N. Oakland #178
Shorewood WI
53211 USA
@ site name

spacer spacer


Behind a scrim of frosted glass, etched with the shape of a swirling hops vine, hangs a wonderful painterly riff on the artwork found on the original label of De Verboden Vrucht (The Forbidden Fruit) ale brewed by Hoegaarden Breweries.De Verboden Frucht from Hogaarden - artwork at the Bier Markt; photo by Lucy Saunders

It's an oversized rendition of the Garden of Eden, replete with hops leaves instead of fig leaves, and the beery, earthly delights it depicts set the stage for dinner at the Bier Markt.

The Bier Markt, one of Toronto's stalwart members of the Esplanade bar scene since August 1999, offers more than 100 brands of beer from 25 countries, from the mildest of Canadian cream ales to black stouts. The brasserie-style menu takes its inspiration from Belgian cafes, or estaminets. Befittingly, the sprawling space that fills several storefronts along the Esplanade of downtown Toronto, was originally financed in part by the folks at Interbrew, as gleaned from the prominent Stella Artois sign outside.

Inside, the kitchen gets its panache from Canadian adaptations of Belgian bar cuisine, such as Prince Edward Island mussels steamed in ale, cream and garlic (one of five flavor combinations available), and flammekuche, the wood-fired oven-baked thin bread, which is typically topped with caramelized onions, bits of fatty bacon back and soft-ripened cheeses.Chef Patrick MacKinnon and wine consultant Shawn Dore, at the Bier Markt; photo by Lucy Saunders

Prime Restaurants, a chain that operates across Canada, tapped the talents of several food and beverage consulants, including Shawn Dore, pictured here with the executive chef Patrick MacKinnon, to create a comprehensive menu.

"I wanted to make the wine menu as accessible as possible," explains Dore. That means offering lots of notes and the chance to sample wines by the glass, as well as by the bottle.

A good selection of Australian and California wines augmented the classic European vintages. The list seemed a bit pricey, but that may reflect the Bier Markt's location near the Toronto financial district. It's a good place to bring a group of people for a large business gathering.

That said, the food menu is compact and mostly composed of casual fare, such as steaks and Belgian specialties.

Hand-cut frites, to go along with every steak, are part of the Bier Markt repetoire. But the most fantastic selection was the seafood and mussels in particular.

Fresh-cooked PEI mussels, bathed in a variety of sauces, could be had by the pound. A luscious smoked salmon, dotted with capers and nuggets of coarse ground pepper, filled the crispy crust of the flammekuche I sampled.

Shucked oysters in Chinese soup spoons at Bier Markt - photo by Lucy Saunders Fabulous fresh oysters were presented shucked inside a Chinese soup spoon, the easier to slurp down with a minced onion topping.

And the bouillabaise fish stew was tender and delicately perfumed with saffron, with chunks of salmon, sea bass and shellfish swimming in the creamy broth.

The frites were served with a garlicky mayonnaise dipping sauce, as well as ketchup. Presentation was classically European - the potato fries served swaddled in parchment paper to catch any grease. They were crispy and salty. Yum.

Draft lines behind glass at Bier Markt, Toronto But the real attraction for me is the huge beer list with literally dozens of draft brews. Beer glasses in caddies with menus, awaiting sampling at Bier Markt

The beer selection is both comprehensive and well-annotated in a 28-page spiral bound notebook (with tasting notes written by Stephen Beaumont).

Small caddies hold both tasting lists for beer orders and a selection of 8 oz. tasting glasses, making it extremely convenient to sample!

Most natives of Toronto admire the Bier Markt's ambitious list - with bottled exotics such as Rochefort 8, Choulette Ambree and Marston's Pedigree available, right alongside mainstream brands such as Michelob, Stella Artois, and Sleeman's Cream Ale.

Some beer aficianados have complained that service can be slow at the Bier Markt. I found that even on a Saturday night, when it was very, very busy, service was good - but not speedy. This is a destination spot all on its own, often with live music, bands and entertainment - and so not necessarily the place to go for a quick bite to eat before the theatre....

Esplanade Bier Markt

58 The Esplanade,
Mon.–Tues. 11 a.m.–1 a.m.;
Wed.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2 a.m.;
Sun. 2 p.m.–2 .m.

Call ahead, as the Markt often hosts special events and live music, sometimes with cover charges.

www.beercook.com, Copyright © 2012-2002, by Lucy Saunders. All rights reserved. Note copyright of authors and recipe contributors in bylines and prefaces. Fee required for reprints in any commercial media.

Reviewers may quote brief excerpts with attribution and links to page URL. Visitor privacy protected. Yes, I reply to email about beer and food (send text messages without attachments, please!).