Neighbourhood: The Exchange
Address: 185 Lombard Ave
Bailey’s wears its legacy on its sleeve. Just around the corner from Portage and Main, the building, constructed by noted philanthropist William Forbes Alloway in 1900, is one of the finest examples of late Victorian architecture in the city. Upon walking through its front doors, diners are embraced by its elegance, enveloped in the comforting warmth of impeccable service and classic cuisine. The second floor restaurant, draped in lush velvet and linens and hung with chandeliers, is grand. Yet, despite its size, the setting is intimate and cozy.
Bailey’s is known for its steak, and for those looking for a classic, marbled piece of meat, it fits the bill. But the hidden gem is the menu’s extensive seafood program. Garlic-rich baked oysters, breaded with panko and Parm on the half-shell, are a standout. Escargot are another well-executed classic, six plump morsels doused in butter and served with a side of sourdough. The wedge salad comes to the table deconstructed: crunchy iceberg lettuce, generous amounts of bacon, juicy tomatoes, red onions and crumbled blue cheese. Fresh, crisp vegetables dressed in sharp blue cheese tease the palate for what comes next.
A Mediterranean seafood medley, of salmon, shrimp and scallops is tucked inside crisp phyllo pastry. Topped with a rich tomato-based velouté and feta cheese, the dish is a lively blend of tangy, briny flavours. The medallions of beef marchand de vin are paired with what are perhaps the best french fries in the city.
Even after the richest meal, the lure of the dessert selection is irresistible. The classic New York cheesecake topped with bright raspberry sauce or an indulgent slice of chocolate truffle cake are perfect ways to top off an evening. The wine list is extensive with reasonably priced, old and new world bottles, including the house Malbec from Argentina, which has just enough vibrancy to cut through the sumptuous food offerings.
The service is formal yet never stuffy; on one visit, servers launched into a boisterous round of Happy Birthday at a nearby table. Despite Bailey’s longstanding grandeur, here, conviviality reigns. In those moments, all of the room is part of the celebration, and we are content.