We at Notable are always on the lookout for new restaurants and bars and lounges – in case you haven’t noticed, we’re pretty on top of Toronto’s scene. So when we moseyed on by the Fran’s at Yonge and College and noticed a conspicuous Now Open message hanging beneath a sign that reads “Screen Lounge,” we knew we had to pop in and take a look. Here’s a tip: We may have found Toronto’s next hidden gem of a spot for you YPs looking for something a little different than the standard bar or club we’re used to.
Screen Lounge is just that: a lounge. It’s an after-work hangout that will take you from cocktails to evening bottles with your crew. We wouldn’t call it scene-stealing; it’s more for groups to gather and have an amazing time with some excellent cocktails and tasty tapas and share plates. (Though it’s too soon to tell how the young professional crowd will react to the spot; it’s been open about a week and Screen Lounge’s grand opening won’t come until tomorrow night.)
The main floor room is warm and sophisticated, with dark wood tables and chocolate-brown leather chairs contrasted by lit wall coverings and red accents. The dining side is intimate, and the bar area has a few high-tops to enjoy a bite and bevvie. The lounge area is a classy set of booths, perfect for sharing bottles and conversation – the music is just low enough that you can hear what everyone’s saying and just loud enough that if you’re strapped for chatter you can subtly tap your feet along with the beat.
Screen Lounge’s upstairs is most definitely a noteworthy Toronto patio, again a collection of booth areas and table seating surrounded by off-white brick-style tiles and corral-coloured flowers. At night, Screen Lounge’s projectors display old-school black and white movies on two walls, adding a little interactivity to the ambiance. The patio will undeniably be one of the hottest spots in the Yonge/College area this summer.
Owned by the same family who brought us the Fran’s franchise, Screen Lounge’s food is definitely a step up from our favourite middle-of-the-night diner. We tried a sampling of appetizers, like the organic leek dumplings with maple soy vinaigrette – the dumpling is delicate and earthy, and the dipping sauce plays a sweet contrast. The beef short ribs had a delicious soy glaze, but the meat was slightly overcooked.
Where Screen Lounge seems to soar are its seafood and fish dishes. The pan-seared scallop has a delightful kick followed by a sweet and citrus taste, while the misosake seared tuna with seasoned spinach is a light course with a nutty flavour. The star dish of the samples we were served has to be the Toro tuna tartar, made with the belly of the fish and simply melt-in-your-mouth good – seriously, we want more…now. The tuna tartar is from Screen Lounge’s Raw Bar, which focuses on high quality fish and large-sized sushi rolls.
Screen Lounge is a social lounge, focusing on building an environment around food made for sharing with your best notable company and a well-stocked drink and cocktail menu that has some great selections – clearly a focused and curated list for this type of establishment – like several scotches and cognacs and sakes. The cocktails are on trend, and feature muddled ingredients and fresh fruit juices – with some housemade syrups and confits present as well – while the martinis are classic and throwback to time-tested recipes.
Screen Lounge will undoubtedly find a home in the rotation of young bay street professionals and other YPs looking for a relaxed and upscale atmosphere in a central location. (We mentioned it’s just steps from College Station, right?) While you’re not looking at a cheap meal, Screen Lounge delivers a still affordable experience – so long as you’re not ordering a bottle of Cristal or Zarb. Be sure to stop in at this new and notable joint, and enjoy an evening from opening act to denouement. Screen Lounge, 20 College Street, Toronto.