Open since 2002 in the Distillery District, Balzac’s second coffee shop location is a relaxing and unique destination to sit back with a cup of coffee, hot apple cider, or a fresh pastry in a beautiful, historic atmosphere.
A beautiful, ginormous Vaudeville chandelier is the focual piece hanging from the high ceilings, while the long coffee bar provides ample space to display a wide variety of unique baked goods. Different local vendors and bakers in Ontario such as Dufflet, Stratford Bakery, the Brick Street Bakery a few doors down, provide the delicious fare. Vintage prints hang from the walls, showcasing the different Balzec locations around Ontario, and gives the cafe a Grand Parisan feel.
Balzac’s seats about 25 downstairs, and also has an art gallery upstairs, where guests are able to sit and enjoy local art work created in Case Goods Warehouse, located directly behind Balzac’s. The collection rotates every month, and guests are able to leave comments and queries about the pieces.
Approximately half of their coffees are Fair Trade Organic, while the other half are conventional. There are also eight to nine other blends, and all beans are all custom blended and roasted at a newly opened warehouse in Stoney Creek, Niagara-On-The-Lake. As I spoke with manager Issac Winter, I sampled the espresso, which had notes of sophistication with a kick in the teeth. Their main coffee roast is a marble blend, which is a unique combination that’s both smooth and sassy.
To be noted: The Atwood Blend is a new addition to the menu, inspired by the Margaret Atwood documentary “In the Wake of the Flood” reflective of Atwood’s life long fascination with birds. Owner Diana Olsen collaborated with Atwood to bring this Bird Friendly blend to Balzac’s, where for every pound of Atwood Blend sold, Balzac’s will also pay a 25 cent royalty to the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Center (SMBC) for the Bird Friendly certification.
Balzac’s also provides Mariage Freres, which is tea imported from France. Their hot chocolate is made from scratch, using all organic products.
One thing to remember – there’s no WIFI here – so kitschy coffee shop kids, keep out, unless you’re coming in for some real coffee and real conversation.