I said I would return to try their food menu, so here we were looking for a little more food and a lot more drinks; after already having a light dinner and a shared dessert. This is one of those places I recommend for that sort of thing. A place to hang out at in between plans. A quick stop to nurse a drink in and to kill some time at. With small plates and craft cocktails, our destination was an easy walk from Tinseltown theatre at the International Village.
I like the vibe of the place. The dark hides away all judgement, and it set you at ease. You make yourself comfortable. The elaborate old school Chinese medicine meets new school technology theme they have cultivated guarantees several topics of conversation. IV bags suspended on hooks, test tube shaped light bulbs hanging in clusters from the ceiling, x-rays on display in the washrooms, and vials of mysterious dried ingredients scattered amongst bottles of alcohol. It certainly gave things that apothecary feel. But it was the live music that really made the place stand out and feel like a treat. It sets the tone. Even on a Tuesday they had a musician playing.
The night was warm so their casual patio was seated. We however floated right to the bar. Where there were actual hooks for hanging our coats and bags on. Located under the counter and pointed out by our bartender. Having to keep your belongs on your lap the whole night is an inconvenience that often gets overlooked at a bar. Our bartender was friendly. He kept busy rinsing and drying glasses, but kept engaged in us enough to contribute to our conversations regularly.
Their list of artisan cocktails are always a fun read. I go for the name or a unique ingredient. Here it was the use of real maple syrup in their “Northern exposure”. Collingwood whiskey, pineapple, maple syrup, lemon, and lapsang tea tincture. Surprisingly this was stronger than it sounded; and tart given the use of pineapple, syrup, and tea for its base.
The “Peking duck sliders” were a little disappointing visually, I don’t know what I was expecting from bar food. Made with cucumber, cilantro, spliced pineapple, and plum sauce; but it just looked like not enough brown meat stuffed into too much bread. With a sad strand of pickle on the side. They tasted better, but hardly worth the price I had to paid for them. $4.50 for each bun. The fluffy and buttery dinner buns paired well with the sweet and salty seasoning of the duck. Served in shreds the duck was slightly dry. It wasn’t tender and you could tell it wasn’t made to order. The pickled tang of the condiments helped bring some excitement to each mouthful, but once again it was not worth purchasing. And this was the most elaborate thing on the menu. If this was how the other dishes compared, I wasn’t about to try any more.
Still hungry, we played it safe with their “Meat and cheese plate”. Nothing was cooked, just assembled, and the saltiness off all the ingredients would pair well with our potent cocktails. At $18 the price was a little steep, but at least it was more satisfying than the above, at double the price. Though this point I was just looking to cut the edge off my buzz. An assortment of cured meats, aged cheese, assorted olives, grainy mustard, and herbed crackers sure did the trick. A simple presentation on a leaf shaped slate board allowed you to pick and choose, and to eat with your hands.
Would I line up for it? – No.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
Would I suggest this for someone visiting from out of town? – Yes.
We would have stayed longer and perhaps tried some of their desserts, had it not been the need to catch our 10:45pm movie. Their cheesecake bites made with rosemary gimlet, milk, and honey sounded good; as did their Chinese churros made with dulce de leche. I would definitely be back for more after dinner or before movie drinks when in the neighbourhood, however I think I have a good idea of the food and won’t be needing another go at it. If I want Asian fusion I can find better for less around the area. Don’t deny your cravings.