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- Sometimes I ride the 501 streetcar just for something to do. It’s a fun way to people watch, without really having to watch out for them, but it’s also a great way to spot new businesses, or old ones for that matter. The past couple of times I took this trip, I wondered what was in the chalkboard-black building on the corner of Queen and Elm Grove. I assumed it was a gallery given it was such a big space, and I was half right. The Mascot is a coffee shop that showcases art…or an art gallery that serves coffee, depending on what you’re going for I guess. I myself was going for the coffee.
At first the place is a bit daunting. It’s quite large, with a lot of negative space, and very limited seating. There are two barstools at the counter, a few tables that can seat more than one, and a surprisingly comfy blue velvet couch in the front room, but patrons need to be ready to get creative if all of those are taken. The back room, which houses the artwork offers up a couple Victorian chairs for those who feel like working on their posture, an old elementary school chair/desk combo, and a springy antique rocking horse (???). I’m not quite sure if that last option is for display only, or for those who like their coffee with a little bouncy nostalgia, but I for one wasn’t about to find out. I used to have one of those horses, and I remember getting pinched by the damn springs on a regular basis. Luckily for us, there was a free table.
My girlfriend ordered a latte while I went with just a basic drip to see what Reunion Island coffee is like in its most vulnerable state. I should’ve went with the latte. Not that the drip was bad, but the latte was fantastic. It was smooth and strong without being bitter. The Rosetta adorning the foam was a nice touch as well. (It should be noted that I went back a few days later for my very own).
As it was around the brunch hour, and breakfast had long worn off we decided to get a couple of treats to go with our coffee. The edible portion of the menu at The Mascot is provided by OMG Baked Goods, and like the seating, selection is limited. The cupcakes were tempting but we were in the mood for savoury, so we ordered a ham & cheese quiche along with a stuffed foccacia.
The quiche arrived looking a little bit sad and we faced off as to who would try it first. We both agreed that it was tastier than we would have guessed, but I’ve definitely had better quiche. The stuffed foccacia on the other hand was a nice surprise. It didn’t come to the table looking like much… really just a bun on a plate. But as with all things stuffed, it’s what’s inside that counts. Filled with roasted peppers, artichokes and Asiago cheese, it was not unlike a grown-up Hot Pocket…one that got tired of all the negative attention so it moved out of its parents freezer, and adopted a healthier lifestyle. The quiche was pushed aside, but later finished – out of hunger alone.
Food however is an afterthought at The Mascot. From what I saw, the people of Parkdale go for the coffee, and rightly so. There was a steady stream of people coming and going, and judging by the interactions, quite a few regulars. With friendly laid-back staff, good ambience and amazing lattes, I would make it my local too – if only I lived anywhere near it.
Footnote: Seating doubles in the warmer months, when it’s comfortable enough to sit on the driftwood looking bench that runs the length of their storefront. Another good place to do some people watching.
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