By Lory Diaz
Mrs Robinson has officially hit College Street, and she brings funk, soul, and delicious cocktails to Toronto’s Little Italy. Torontonicity was invited to attend a private preview on December 7, 2017, where I got to check out the vintage vibes and fun live music featuring Thursday’s live band, Bubble Gum Bikini!
If you think Mrs Robinson is named for the leading lady in The Graduate, you’re in the right era but wrong musical genre. This space was inspired by and named after the badass music producer, Sylvia Robinson: The strong woman behind Sugar Hill Records. She’s considered the Mother of Hip-Hop, and one of the driving forces behind the success of “Rapper’s Delight.”
Not only is the music and décor heavily inspired by the 70s and all the creative activity taking place in New York boroughs, but the food has the same source of inspiration. Think of the food at Mrs Robinson as a twist on some southern comfort food staples. The Okra fries are one example: tempura-like exterior paired with a creole honey mustard.
A classic Bronx, New York item found on the menu is the Chopped Cheese Slider, which is a much-welcomed replacement of the classic slider found at most bars in Toronto now. One of my personal favourites though was the Grilled Radicchio Skewers that came with Ambrosia Apples, drizzled with a honey bourbon old fashioned vinaigrette. The apple retains its’ crispness, while the slightly charred radicchio contrasts with the sweeter vinaigrette. Absolutely delicious!
Although I would happily grab food again at this bar, it’s the perfectly crafted cocktails and amazing music that will keep me going back. I spoke about my newfound love of the tequila and pineapple combo after attending the Convenience Resto Bar opening, but that cocktail had a bit of heat to it because of the jalapeno. The Belafonte Cocktail at Mrs Robinson is the sophisticated version: mezcal, pineapple, habanero jam, citrus, orgeat, and nonino. The mezcal lends a smokiness that’s enhanced by the habanero, without any spice, and the pineapple, nonino, and citrus juice round out the edges in just the right way.
If you’re looking for a lighter drink that’s smooth and lends itself to casually enjoying, try the Little Priest: cocchi vermouth, earl grey, lemon, peach liqueur, and rosemary. I heard someone describe this as a long island iced tea, but I think it’s a much sexier – but equally as refreshing – version.
If you can only have one drink though, and you’re a beer fan, definitely try the Second Chance Machine. Without a doubt, it is the most surprisingly delicious combination of flavours I have had in a long time, and one that I’ve already raved about to all my friends! It’s made of hopped vodka, Lagunitas IPA, grapefruit cordial, lemon, and china-china (think caramel colour, spicy aromatics, and orange rind). This cocktail also comes served in a twisted brown paper bag, which only intensifies its appeal. Trust me, try it, you’ll never look back.
Wet from the Waist Down makes everyone blush when they order it, but the pear caramel, anise, and dry cider combined with the tequila will have you boldly ordering your second.
Mrs Robinson has a hand-picked selection of vinyl records, which have clearly inspired the overall mood and theme of the space. The live band on Thursdays, Bubble Gum Bikini, are not to be ignored though. They’re absolutely worth checking out, as they play funk, R&B, soul, and jazz hits to perfection. They played one of my favourites on opening night – Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” – and had the room dancing!
I’m enthusiastic about what Toronto has going on right now for nightlife, but it feels like Mrs Robinson is offering up a space for music fans to come and enjoy classic tunes well outside the boisterous King West area. If you’re looking for a relaxed night to enjoy delicious cocktails while chatting with friends, but open to letting the music take over, please visit Mrs Robinson at 574 College Street. Stop by a Thursday night, and you may find me there singing along with a Second Chance Machine in hand!