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.