No real history here, it’s a newer place but it gets a couple points for the history it is currently making.
Atmosphere – 9/10
Nearly perfect, a heavy blanket curtain hangs by the door to help keep cold air out, lots of candlelight, acceptable music, classy decor, nice choice of seating, a slight detraction for how dark the room is, I like a dark room but I can barely see in here.
Service – 10/10
The best service I have ever received in any bar in the world, easily. Not just one visit either, BarChef consistently treats me markedly better than any other place I’ve been. I could go on and on here, the staff actually know how to read a person and respond in kind. I watched one bartender make her way around the room over and over all evening, cycling through about a dozen patrons, picking up her conversation with each one from where it was left off on her last pass. It’s not just one bartender either, ALL of them seem to have been trained in a way basically no other bartender I have seen has been.
Drinks – 5/5
You know that annoying Chicago-y molecular gastronomy stuff? The drinks at BarChef are the best parts of that idea without the bad. Classic cocktails are classic, their versions of classics are amazing, their multi-sensory experience fancy cocktails are impressive, if a bit pricey.
Casino Test – 5/5
BarChef is still the only bar ever where a bartender has known what a Casino was and how to make it.
Amy’s not a huge cocktail nerd, her response after one sip “this is the greatest cocktail I have ever tasted”
GO Train! I usually take the subway into the city but wanted to checkout the commuter rail option, GO is a couple bucks more than the subway but is a proper train with seats and bathrooms, etc. GO trains leave from the same station as I normally take subway from and take about the same time to get downtown.
Up at 3am for work, I still love work travel but this morning was rough, I slept from about 6pm to 9pm last night and then spent from 9pm to 3am in a zombie state.
I finished up around 5am and am currently sitting in the Lakeview all night diner, the place is perfect, lived-in and gorgeous. The food however is mediocre, as is the coffee, anytime a restaurant only has scrambled eggs it means they use liquid eggs and this sort of corner cutting is usually not a good sign. It’s really a shame that the food doesn’t live up to the room. Eventually enough loud Saturday night drunks came in that I paid and left.
I walked up and down Queen Street a bit, seeing what’s open and what’s going on at 6am on a Sunday, it’s dark and empty and perfect.
Eventually I found a Portuguese bakery already open and went inside, I’ve noticed a few places in Toronto already that have “no laptops” signs and was wondering if anyone would say anything at the bakery if I setup shop for an hour or two.
I ordered a cappuccino, and a danish that I don’t really want, to hopefully pay my keep and went to a table. I setup my laptop, headphones, notebook, etc and waited for my order, the heavily Portuguese accented lady who took my order scurried over with my cappuccino and I feared she was going to say something about the laptop, instead she pulled a second table over and set my coffee on it, saying with a motherly smile “no spill, coffee and computer no mix”, yay. The coffee tastes like an ashtray and is possibly the worst coffee I have ever drank but the danish is still warm and I am happy here.
I love Sloan. Top ten band all-time. Sloan live and record in Toronto. I spent the past half hour searching for their studio and offices. I’m currently sitting outside listening to a few greatest hits.
It’s raining, FFS people I can get this at home. I guess it’s at least warm. My plan was to be out of the hotel by 8… so around 10:30 I headed out. Left the Jeep at Islington station and took the subway to King.
I had intended on breakfast at The Poet, a Persian influenced cafe/coffee bar/hip place but The Poet was really busy and they weren’t interested in giving up one of their tables to a single so I walked up to the George Street Diner, a wonderfully classic Toronto diner and ordered the Irish Breakfast. It was fantastic, the place was awesome and the two French ladies working were bopping along pretty good to Abba and The Bee Gees.
Most lists of the best cocktail bars in Canada have D.W. Alexander on them somewhere yet I hadn’t managed to stop in until tonight, my loss this place is great.
History – 4/10
It’s tough for most Canadian cocktail bars to really compete on “history” especially compared to London or New York but D.W. gets some points, despite being a new bar, for being housed in a 150 year old leather goods warehouse and for being named after the primary leather merchant who worked here from 1870.
Atmosphere – 8/10
Fantastic room, lighting is perfect, seating is spacious and noise levels are manageable, the only gripes being it was a bit chilly and the music was bad 15 year old watery R&B which really did not fit the room.
Service – 7/10
It’s Toronto so expecting any sort of friendly is pointless however the bar staff were nice enough and efficient plus the three of them really seemed to like each other a lot.
Casino Test – NA
Did not build the rapport needed for requesting custom drinks, also their standard cocktail list was one of the best I have seen, maybe a Casino next time.
The Drinks – 5/5
I had a boulevardier and a paper plane, both were outstanding. both were $8.50 as well because I was there before 7pm, SEE VANCOUVER! this is how you do happy hour. Two absolutely world class cocktails for less than $20 in a major North American city is impressive.
TOTAL – total to follow if I return and order a casino.