The Comrade is totally a friendly, laidback, neighbourhood watering hole. It just happens to be so stylish that I don't think I should even be allowed in here in my signature "I'm unemployed" freebie t-shirt. A quick glance around reassures, though. Mine isn't the only free t-shirt in this joint, although something about the dark, sumptuous look of the place makes me wish I were wearing a trench coat and pumps instead, and that I was sitting at the bar smoking long cigarettes in holders.
I feel nostalgic for a time I'm not even sure existed. An Indochine/Orient Express kind of a time when a lady might walk into a beautiful, moody bar like this wearing a beret and scarf instead of a t-shirt advertising a local magazine.
Every desirable decorating detail you can think of is represented in this old-world-inspired lounge, from the high tin ceilings to the exposed brick walls to the unique designer furniture. In the front section, large daybeds make for private seating enclosures, while the antique tables along the wall feel intimate and old-cabaret topped by little, individual lamps.
In the back, settees and leather chairs are arranged in small clusters under Chinese lanterns and old communist propaganda posters from Saigon. A large fireplace keeps it cozy in the winter months. If you are looking to impress with your choice of cocktail lounge, this is a foolproof destination.
I guarantee that at the very least, your date/boss/mother-in-law will wish out loud that his or her home was as well put-together, because even if the extensive wine or 55+ beer list doesn't impress, there is something truly inspiring about sitting in the perfectly crafted design space of this bar - co-owned by, and side project of, the same people who run Leigh+James Furniture on Bathurst.
There's no kitchen, but you can order cheese and charcuterie plates, desserts and light sandwiches. Fans of deli food will go wild for the fine cheeses, selections of breads, and accompaniments like olives and pickles. The smoked salmon platter is particularly recommended but definitely for sharing.
Cocktails are the recommended beverage at the Comrade, in keeping with the ambiance. Fresh and high-quality cocktail ingredients are kept on hand and the bartender is known for his skill. The Cafe Comrade with creme de cacao and expresso is bit of a signature drink and pays homage to the bar's first lowly liquor-license-free months, when it operated as a coffee shop.
The Comrade attracts stylish Riverdale yuppies, the art-and-design set, and even unemployed people in freebie t-shirts.
Writing by Jessica McGann