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Photo: Dennis Marciniak

Posted by Ben Spurr / December 1, 2010

Churchill is one of a fleet of new hangouts that have been deployed along Dundas West to absorb the overflow from Ossington's stylish quarter-life bar scene. Managers Shayne Cox and Katherine Bates both worked as bartenders at the Beaconsfield for years before opening up Churchill at the end of September, and in many ways it is a bartenders' bar.

At most times you can find a few local tab-pullers on their night off here. And to some extent, Churchill is a composite of the surrounding bars that many of its clients work at. It's got the quirky bare bulb fixtures of Oddfellows, and like the Beaconsfield, it has tall arched windows and chalk-written quotations on the wall.

This wasn't exactly unintentional, as Cox and Bates enlisted the Beaconsfield's Carlos Fernandez to design Churchill's interior. Exposed brick makes up the wall behind the bar, and scattered on the shelf above the booze are rustic items like wooden tennis rackets and volumes of antique books.

Churchill aims for upscale but cozy, and the drink prices should certainly make you feel at home. PBR for $4, pints of 50 for $5, and, to round out the holy trinity of Parkdale beers, pints of Stiegl for $6.50. Bottled beer and rail shots are mostly in the $5 dollar range. If that's not cozy enough, Cox and Bates plan to introduce a small menu of comfort food in mid-December consisting of items like baked potatoes and chicken potpie.

For those feeling classy instead of cozy however, one of their bartenders is a cocktail expert, and on most Sunday and Monday nights she's there to whip up a Paper Plane (bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, and lemon juice) for $14.

The staff and setup are welcoming enough, but there is one thing that makes it difficult to feel completely at home at Churchill. The tall bare windows let in a lot of light and make the place seem somewhat sterile. The fact that one of the windows directly faces the unsightly neon glow of the KFC across the street does not help.

Not to turn this into a Kramer vs. Kenny Rogers situation, but Churchill's managers might want to ask their neighbours to dim the lights, or consider putting up some drapes to darken the place and make it more intimate. A few more tables might make it seem less bare and a bit more sociable as well.

Churchill hits all the right targets to be a popular hangout for the runoff from the Ossington crowd - proximity, grown-up style, and hipster appeal - but it's also hard to see what it offers that other locals don't already. The crowd it's trying to separate itself from will only get larger as new bars pop up along Dundas West, and until it figures out what makes it truly unique Churchill will probably be relegated to the very respectable status of serviceable weekend watering hole, rather than your favourite hangout.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Signature Drink:
Paper Plane
Bar Snacks:
Baked potatoes and chicken potpie
Whatever is on the bartender's iPod
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
Overflow from the Ossington crowd
7PM until 2AM daily



fjsjsj / December 1, 2010 at 3:17 PM


Sarah / December 1, 2010 at 8:45 PM

Um, do you mean PATIO: Yes?

mr. hood / December 1, 2010 at 9:03 PM

sounds cool, its great to see places promoting bartenders who dable in mixology regardless of skill level. These are the type of bartenders who put bartending back into bartending. Too many places play it safe and arent adventurous. So its great to see a space promoting bartenders with passion and ambition.

On the side note about sparse tabling, it could be that they cant add more seats based upon their liquor license capacity... just sayin

Dean Footstink In replying to a comment from fjsjsj / December 1, 2010 at 11:43 PM

Well thought out -assbag! What a stupid comment. This place looks and sounds great. Go back to picking the lint outta yer navel.

AmH / December 2, 2010 at 9:34 AM

No one Rox like Shayne Cox Rox. Just Sayin'

Junkie / December 2, 2010 at 7:48 PM

Can I shoot up in the ladies room?

Tim In replying to a comment from Sarah / December 5, 2010 at 11:27 AM

This has now been updated. The photos have also been updated as there was a compressions/quality issue with the photos when this post first went up.

Crimson Cass / December 7, 2010 at 12:46 PM

I'm happy to see the former business finally gone from that space. I'm pretty sure it was a front, as no-one except for the same 3 -5 people were ever in there, usually playing one of the bar video screens. Even during World Cup soccer, the crowd was small.

sjfbarnett / December 19, 2010 at 5:23 PM

I was meeting a friend here for drinks and showed up a few minutes early, as they had not opened their doors yet. Although the bartender came to let me know that I was too early, it would have been nice to have been allowed to sit at the bar. Instead I was forced to wait outside in the cold. Needless to say, when my friend showed up, we veered somewhere else.

Poor first impressions go a long way.

Malcolm / January 20, 2011 at 3:02 PM

What a boring, uninspired beer list.

brigitte / February 1, 2014 at 2:54 PM

sjfbarnett, I'm a small business owner and I have the same problem as this bar - people pounding on the door 5-10 mins before we open. Well let me tell you. Sometimes the floors are wet. Sometimes we need to clean up. Sometimes we just need that extra 5 minutes to get organized. We don't want clients to catch us tidying up the bathrooms or what have you. Don't be an arrogant ass. It's silly to dismiss a cool place just because YOU decided to come early. If you arrive to Scotiabank or Loblaws early do you demand to be let in? Probably not. So why treat small businesses with less respect? This kind of self-entitled, "I deserve special treatment" attitude makes me not want to be a business owner anymore.

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