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Best Restaurant Design Award 2024

Bar Prima

From the outside, Bar Prima is about as nondescript as any of the dives and dodgy spots along Toronto’s Queen West strip. Inside, it’s a glamorous ode to a time when diners dressed up for a long and luxurious meal, a time when décor and design played a vital role in the dining experience. There’s glitz here — deconstructed mirrors reflecting the dim lighting, flowy deep-hued curtains and a vaulted ceiling lined in gold leaf — but somehow it all feels elegant and refined. Chalk that up to the careful direction of Ali McQuaid at Future Studio, who has a keen eye for balance and colour. Ultramarine Klein Blue draws the eye to the banquettes and bar stools. Light is carefully directed, via subtle sconces and a wall of Murano glass blocks that permit just enough of it to seep through from the street. Deco-esque antiques populate the space, such as the antique clock light punctuating the cozy marble-topped bar. Attention to detail follows right through to the end of the evening, when the bill is presented in an antique cigarette case, from chef Craig Harding’s personal collection. A cigarette case…now there’s a throwback to a bygone era.

—Dick Snyder

Glamour, beauty and balance treat the eye at Toronto’s Bar Prima.

Photography by Rick OBrien (interiors), Britney Townsend (mirror wall)

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