Bambi's, despite being named after a Disney favourite, is hardly doe-eyed and innocent. It's tucked in the corner of Dundas and Dovercourt, but its charm is far more polished than the average Dundas West dive. Bambi's may appear to be a mere neighbourhood joint, but it's far more sophisticated that that.
Despite it being 11 on a Saturday night when I arrive, the place is remarkably empty. The bar staff are still arranging bottles and gutting limes. "We were cleaning until five a.m. the night before," Mike, the owner, explains. Despite the quietness, there's an anticipatory vibe, though a mellower weekday-type night might be in the cards.
There's certainly thought put into the way the place looks. There's something hyper-modern in its cohesion - the minimalistic furniture matches, and arranged with an almost geometric gusto. Exposed stone walls and pipes give it an industrial quality and saves it from being too slick. A complete revamp from a boarded up, unused space and a mere month old, it's unsurprisingly simple (but effective, nonetheless). It's darker than your average bar, but not dingy, and it feels justified.
This place is a basement, after all - the kind of basement that would recall back alleys, dungeons, and other places you'd go out of your way to be inappropriate in. With such potential for debauchery, I ask Mike why he'd name the place Bambi's. "I wanted it to be inviting," he replies, then grins cheekily. "So I named it after a orphaned deer." Even the licorice proffered in glass jars on the bar-top feel distinctly child unfriendly.
By midnight, the trickle of patrons accelerate to a full-on downpour. (Night owls, you're welcome; early birds, don't bother - at least, not on weekends.) Within 20 minutes the space is full, though not unnavigable. The crowd is diverse, and like the bar, stylish but unpretentious. The bar staff manages quite nicely, despite the masses that surround them; there's a high-five and smile for everyone. The music is certifiably techno, heightening its otherworldly, underground vibe. Bambi's definitely has an edge, but there's little ceremony or stiffness about it.