The Half Point
No Name McGee's may have been the name of choice the night we went, but the bar at 1602 Dundas St. West has not yet been officially named. For now, we'll call it No Name.
"Jason and I wanted to get the bar open and worry about the details later," said Elliot Mealia, the manager that spoke to me. The details he's referring to are the name, menu, and food. When you first see the bar from the street a collapsible blackboard displays the current name which changes constantly.
Menus are probably absent because Jason Abrams (the owner) and Elliot are still deciding on food, but drinks are written up on another blackboard behind the bar. They have a great selection of bottled beer (PBR, Bohemian, Zyweic, 666, and Guinness to name a few), with prices ranging from $4 and up.
When my friends and I first arrived at the bar around 9:30pm on Saturday, it was understandably empty. By 10:30 it was mostly filled and by 11 it was packed. The crowd was a mixed group with cap-wearing "dudes" sitting next to conservative couples in their 40s, but the atmosphere was undeniably comfortable.
The decor is tasteful with dim lighting and muted metallic paint on the walls that warms the space. The bar is one long piece of wood and the furniture at the tables is mismatched and worn. It's very opium-den chic with Victorian touches.
Elliot was very friendly and recommended his specialties (my words not his -- he was modest): an Old Fashioned and a Manhattan. We tried both and they were equally well-made. The Old Fashioned was clean and fresh tasting, clearly made with fresh fruit (or puree). I personally didn't enjoy the Manhattan, but my scotch-swilling friend assured me it was made perfectly and gave the bourbon its deserved moment in the spotlight.
No Name wants to be known for its variety of scotches (with 19 different varieties). Their selection seems a bit limited and there are certainly more well-equipped whiskey bars in the area, like The Caledonian . However, No Name's scotch is priced aggressively in order to challenge the competition, starting at $6.50 per shot and peaking at $30.
The group I went with unanimously agreed that we would frequent No Name's if it was closer to our respective homes. It's got the right mix of charm and comfort that makes it easy to hangout for a night with friends. It might not have a defining characteristic that calls for an across-city visit, but if No Name is in your neighbourhood then we've just found your new favourite watering hole.
Writing by Andrew Kalinchuk