It’s a funny thing about bars in Toronto: even if the floor isn't swept, the music is too loud, and the wait staff is disinterested, if there is alcohol being served, people will come. What is it about ubiquitous clubs or unimpressive watering holes that seem to earn a clientele, despite the lack of atmosphere or quality offerings? I suppose sometimes you just want to go where nobody knows your name!
*Photo courtesy of Goods & Provisions Insta: @goodsandprovisionsto
Now, Toronto restaurants, on the other hand... that's a whole different story. In a city with innumerable offerings, restaurants seem to have only one chance to make a good impression and earn return clientele; this will determine if they stick around and become a successful neighbourhood favourite, or if the space will soon become vacant to make room for the next entrepreneur.
Are we really so picky about our food and so lazy about our drinks?
Lucky for Leslieville, when both come together on Queen Street East in the form of Goods & Provisions, the food and drink offerings are neither lazy nor uninteresting – and they successfully made a return customer out of me after only one visit.
*Photo courtesy of Goods & Provsions Insta: @goodsandprovisionsto
There are thousands of places in Toronto that aim to satiate; what city dwellers now want - spoiled as we are - is a unique experience. This, among other things, may explain the rampant success Goods & Provisions has been enjoying since opening its doors in 2011. One-time manager and mixologist, Angus Myles, who used to take full advantage of the bar's central location in the space to draw customers into friendly interactions, was quoted as saying, "With serving booze there comes great responsibility... you’re responsible for the vibe that’s at your bar.” And what a vibe it is!
*Photo courtesy of BlogTO
Upon arriving, you feel as though you’ve stepped through a time machine instead of a doorway; the cozy space is believably outfitted like a prohibition-era tavern, complete with sepia photographs adorning stained oak plank walls, and lightly-tarnished mirrors reflecting the soft light. That light is cast by bare 'public library chic' globe fixtures, the likes of which haven’t been hip in decades.
The aforementioned marble bar is surrounded by a collection of stools, a larger collection of potable potions, and represents the main feature and focus of this moodily lit space. And while an establishment with such deliberate atmosphere-building décor comes with an inevitable dose of pretension, it still doesn’t spoil the fun.
*Photo courtesy of BlogTO
Unconvinced by glowing reviews on Yelp, I was excited to try the fare for myself. Based on the tavern motif, I half-expected standard pub fare, but I opened the menu to find a refined and somewhat unique menu. Brow-raising offerings like octopus & fried potato or bone marrow were unexpected - but not unwelcome - finds, while choices like whole sea bass, blue-ribbon rib steak, and oysters seemed to be the favourites. I eventually landed on Uncle Ho's wings, which were a delicious fusion I would try again! I also allowed the bartender to stir me up a cleverly titled Old Fascist, which turned out to be a fresh twist on an Old Fashioned (I’m a sucker for witty wordplay!)
*Photos courtesy of Goods & Provsions Insta: @goodsandprovisionsto
My verdict on this Leslieville speakeasy? G & P has some serious moxie.
And I'll be back for another dose!
1124 Queen Street E
For info call:
Hours of Operation:
Wednesday - Sunday
(Given the new regulations and limitations placed on food purveyors due to COVID-19, it's best to call beforehand to see what the wait is like!)
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