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Detour Bar


Posted by Ben Spurr / January 22, 2011

Detour is the latest addition to Kensington Market's bar scene, and the best way I can think of describe it is this: imagine that Beetlejuice bought a seedy cowboy bar, and then got tired of redecorating it halfway through.

The wall behind the bar is paneled with raw wood planks, complete with a perfunctory horseshoe, while the opposite wall is a dark matte colour that absorbs the garish light bouncing off a disco ball in the centre of the room. Behind the bar a thin strip of light glows an assortment of neon colours (changed at patrons' request by the obliging bar staff), and seductive black leather couches line the walls. It is, in short, a pretty cool joint.

The bar is a first-time venture for owners Chris Buck and Peter Zarow, but they're well aware of what neighbourhood they're moving into and and aren't ashamed of Detour's dive bar status. Paul Zarow (Peter's brother and informal co-manager) says that when they took over the site from short-lived punk bar Rear View Mirror, their aim was "to spruce the place up a little bit, but not too much." Thanks to Detour's odd lighting scheme, the dark, slightly menacing feeling left behind by its predecessor has morphed into something verging on the psychedelic.

If you wanted to go on a Fear and Loathing-style acid trip, this bar would be a good place to start. A seven-foot lizard would not look incongruous emerging from the bathroom (which, by the way, boasts the best hand-drying technology in Kensington).

A must during any visit to Detour is a shot of Wódka Żołądkowa Gorzka ($5), a Polish liquor that translates literally as "bitter vodka for the stomach" and tastes much better than it sounds. On tap are Guinness, Mill Street Organic, and Sleeman's (all $6.25), and the fridge boasts an assortment of standard brews like Labatt 50, Pilsner Urquell, and Dos Equis (all $5.25).

Having only been open for two months, Detour is still sorting out some details, including plans to build a backyard patio and implement a menu made exclusively from fresh Kensington produce. So far the entertainment consists an acoustic night on Monday (which features PBR tall cans for $5), and a popular dubstep party on Friday.

But unless you're a big fan of Digital Mystikz I would suggest that the bar is best enjoyed when there's nothing blaring from the small stage in the corner and you can take in the full atmosphere of the place at your leisure. If there's any justice, Detour should become a favourite starting point for anyone charting a late night course stumbling through Kensington.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Sleemans, Guinness, Mill Street Organic
Signature Drink:
Wódka Żołądkowa Gorzka
Bar Snacks:
Dubstep on Fridays, miscellaneous the rest of the week
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
Kensington barflies and Tim Burton fans



COME ON / January 25, 2011 at 10:23 AM

If that is the extent of your beer selection then I say you clowns get the f to work expanding the beer selection.

Orly / January 25, 2011 at 10:34 AM

Dear Ben, before you write about bars in Kensington Market, learn where Kensington Market is. Baldwin and McCaul ain't the market. Never was, never will be. Baldwin and Kensington is, so's Baldwin and Augusta. Hell even Baldwin and Spadina. But McCaul? Nope.

If you're going to write, at least make some attempt at fact-checking and accuracy before you put it out there.

PS, I did your homework for you:

You're welcome.

Sean In replying to a comment from Orly / January 25, 2011 at 10:43 AM


I did not even realize this place was at Baldwin and McCaul. That is definitely not Kensington Market.

That being said, you could have been a tad nicer while pointing that out.

nb In replying to a comment from Orly / January 25, 2011 at 10:43 AM

Thing is, Orly, the Google map up there is wrong.
193 Baldwin is actually a couple doors from the Roach-o-rama, right in the heart of, yep, Kensington Market. The map is showing 5 Baldwin. Apparently Maps doesn't like the decimal point on the address.
So maybe YOU should do your homework before you start bitchin'!

johns / January 25, 2011 at 10:44 AM

Hey Orly (and Ben as well), the map is wrong, The Detour is near Baldwin and Kensington Ave. Google maps is confused by the 1/2 address.

But I guess hater's gonna hate.

Easy, Tiger! / January 25, 2011 at 10:47 AM

This bar is in Kensington. The author made a mistake with the street names... it is on Baldwin between Augusta and Kensington, on the south side.

Chill, would ya?

Bjorn Hammerstein / January 25, 2011 at 10:50 AM

Hey so if you went to Baldwin and McCaul you would need to detour to get to the actual location of the bar


T. / January 25, 2011 at 10:52 AM

I'm pretty sure "took over the site from short-lived punk bar Rear View Mirror," is explanation enough that this bar is actually in the market. Or don't you know the market well enough? Or actually read stories before shitting on them?

Adam In replying to a comment from Orly / January 25, 2011 at 10:55 AM

Wow, talk about an over-reaction.

Great to hear about a new addition to kensington's bar scene.

Luke In replying to a comment from Orly / January 25, 2011 at 10:55 AM

The map is wrong, not the author, relax.

This Guy / January 25, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Wait, what's Kensington Market?

hbr / January 25, 2011 at 11:43 AM

Lol....Orly is the reason you should stay out of Kensington market's night life, full of roaches and wannabe BOFG

markus In replying to a comment from Easy, Tiger! / January 25, 2011 at 12:01 PM

Yeah guys, chill out on your wanting to keep a high standard for journalism!

brandnoob / January 25, 2011 at 12:08 PM

This place looks like it's infested with roaches and bedbugs.

Alley Kat / January 25, 2011 at 1:06 PM

This bar is just another nail on the coffin of Kensington as a neighbourhood. Believe it or not there are people who live here and some even own homes right in the middle of the hood. The morphing of the Market into an after-hours entertainment district will eventually destroy its fabric and take it one step closer to StarBucks, development, and maybe even a second coming of Yorkville. Bottom line, we residents don't need any more noisy bars full of people from the burbs who party until 3:00 am. Each time one of us sells because we're being driven away from our homes of many years, the selling prices escalate and eventually the very bars which drive us out will find they can no longer afford the rent and they too will disappear. Check out photos of Yorkville in the '60's. Back to the future for Kensington if we don't respect what we still have.

Pfft In replying to a comment from Alley Kat / January 25, 2011 at 3:02 PM

"respect what we still have"???

80% of the market is shite stores that sell nothing of use to anybody anywhere.

'after hours entertainment district"?

wtf are you talking about?

And where's your proof that all the people going to K Market bars are from the suburbs?

Please list for us the companies that you approve for location to the market.

Are you having much success shutting down that horrible corporate monster called Valumart?

David / January 25, 2011 at 3:44 PM

What Kensington needs is a good ol' fashioned fire. The place is an armpit.

Alley Kat In replying to a comment from Pfft / January 25, 2011 at 3:46 PM

"80% of the market is shite stores that sell nothing of use to anybody anywhere."

I take it you support your favourite retail franchises setting up in Kensington. Fine, if you insist. It'll double my property value.

"Are you having much success shutting down that horrible corporate monster called Valumart?"

Valumart? Not here. You must be confusing Kensington with somewhere else. Come visit during the day when you can still focus... you know, before you hit the bars.

Pffft / January 25, 2011 at 4:20 PM

No, I choose to call KM what it is: a mish mash of mostly useless business peppered with a small bunch of useful ones. Starbucks doesn't go in because there are 500 coffee shops already and they would fail. Gap doesn't go in because they know they would fail. Etc etc for all the big name retailers.

But you're right - it's Freshmart, not Valumart.

So, are you having much success shutting down that horrible corporate monster called Freshmart?

handfed / January 25, 2011 at 4:44 PM


alley kat In replying to a comment from Pffft / January 25, 2011 at 5:13 PM

"No, I choose to call KM what it is: a mish mash of mostly useless business peppered with a small bunch of useful ones."

I agree with you but I like KM because it's a cultural and commercial mongrel.

Although I'm neither fan of or nor apologist for Freshmart, you've got to admit it's a rather benign franchise seen mostly in rural Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes. I think Kensington's store is unique as a big-city presence. I was offended by it at first but now accept it as a local shop where I can purchase products otherwise unavailable in the Market. It hardly smacks of "corporate" and is a typical KM "mish mash" in its own way. Now Cob's on the other hand...

Sigh. In replying to a comment from Alley Kat / January 25, 2011 at 9:27 PM

If you're so eager to live in a quite neighbourhood then you might want to consider moving the burbs themselves. I live across the tracks from the Market and am a proud patron of the Detour Bar. That being said I can assure you the 905 crowd is yet to make their way into the delightful sleezeball that Kensington is.
The Detour is a locally owned, run and attended bar. So take your schizo babble elsewhere, we're here to party.

alley kat In replying to a comment from Sigh. / January 26, 2011 at 1:09 AM

"The Detour is a locally owned, run and attended bar."

Most Kensington locals don't have cars but sometimes when i walk by at night I see vehicles clustered in front of the bar, no one else parked on the street. I guess "local" is relative.

"So take your schizo babble elsewhere, we're here to party."

A couple of months ago I was walking by The Detour one Sunday morning and saw a girl being shoved to the sidewalk in front of the bar by a curly red haired guy who stood over her shouting. She was crying. The bar was closed but he had access and went in. Class act. Walking back I saw him drive off in a white pickup. I've noticed the truck parked in front of the bar since then. Nice addition to the neighbourhood. Party on "locals".

yoyonono / January 26, 2011 at 2:05 AM

man you guys'll bitch about anything
the market is one of the only interesting neighbourhoods left, both for living and partying
there are few other places that draw such an interesting, not suburban crowd
i don't think a bar that took over a spot that previously contained a bar which, unless i'm mistaken, was also another bar before that (and probably so on and so forth for a while) is going to drive your precious kensington property values up enough to ruin the neighbourhood
just because you're old and shitty and hate fun doesn't mean we all have to

alley kat In replying to a comment from yoyonono / January 26, 2011 at 9:27 AM

The bar was a store three years ago.

No one's against the established bars. The proliferation of additional bars is a troublesome trend that's destroying the soul of a once functional and funky old neighbourhood. Established residents are leaving. Drive them away and land speculators replace them. Expensive real estate = expensive bar leases = expensive drinks = no customers. The bars too will disappear. Party on. Enjoy it while you can. Your drinks are making the developers drunk with joy and you're dancing them right in the door.

P.S. Many of you should Google "ad hominem".

Michael / January 26, 2011 at 10:57 AM

I was once a big fan of Kensington and spent a lot of time there but, for me, the place has lost most, if not all of its charm. Most of the pro-Kensington posts on here call it "unique", "funky" and "cultural", which read like excuses for the neighbourhood's filth and general state of dilapidation. There's much more of an argument against surrendering Kensington to corporate interests like Starbucks if it looked like people really cared about it. The vultures are indeed circling.

News Bulletin In replying to a comment from alley kat / January 26, 2011 at 1:34 PM

Freshmart = Loblaws satan child. Loblaws would love for you to think it's a quaint little independent hard workin' guy place. It's just another tiny cog in the Loblaws behemoth.

And that said, the Freshmart in KM is a nightmare. Filthy. Horrible selection.

alley kat In replying to a comment from News Bulletin / January 26, 2011 at 2:07 PM

We all know Freshmart is a down-market Loblaws/National Grocers franchise. Point is "the Freshmart in KM is a nightmare. Filthy. Horrible selection", which makes it a reasonable fit and pretty much why most residents have accepted it. It's owned by a second generation Kensington family doing business in KM for over fifty years at that location and on Baldwin previously running Freshmart as "Fairland".

WhiteTruckDude In replying to a comment from Alley Kat / January 26, 2011 at 4:28 PM

To Alley Kat...

This is a blog about Detour Bar if I'm not mistaken. So I have to ask you... have you ever been inside the bar?? Have you even tried to approach the bar owners, to introduce yourself, or voice your concerns? I invite you in for a beer anytime.

If you want to start your own blog about the external forces threatening Kensington Market maybe you should do that somewhere else. As for producing stories about crying girls being shoved outside the bar... you need to go to the club district on Saturday night and see the real 905 gong-show going on down there.

Just so you know that girl you mentioned tripped and fell, no hand was raised to her. She's sitting with me right now and you can usually find her at the end of our bar enjoying a delicious pint of Guiness... no joke. That is a personal matter that happened 3 months ago and has no bearing on your general disdain of any new business coming into KM. I hope we call all just get along.


alley kat In replying to a comment from WhiteTruckDude / January 26, 2011 at 5:50 PM

That's not what I saw but we girls accept spin as common currency from guys who step over the line. If you are that guy, you didn't offer to help her up. Quite the opposite. Several people saw what happened and granted, although it was a personal issue, you take your chances acting out anger in public. I'll cut you and your bar and your friend some slack and walk on the other side of the street in future.

Knock yourself out.

shaun / January 28, 2011 at 1:32 AM

The detour bar is awesome, that is all.
Party fridays!

snork / January 28, 2011 at 1:09 PM

Wow alley kat.

Some people wear rose coloured glasses, yours seem kinda grey. Ad hominem indeed.

You live downtown, things change, cities change, this one has been changing since 1793 and though it isn't always for the best, it must to survive.
Now maybe you need change.
Perhaps it would be best for you to grab your winnings of "double my property value" and move to a more stagnant part of the city that you can enjoy for years to come.

I lived downtown for years, the area I lived in has become a strong and thriving social scene. My needs changed, so I and my family moved, yes, to the suburbs.

Your type astounds me. You remind me of people in The Beach(es). In the beginning it was cottage country for people in the city to visit, now the current residents complain about all the people that go there on the weekends.

Cities (and people) need renewal. Travel enough and you will see lots of examples of places that have missed the boat.

You're taking shots (no pun intended) at something you feel passionate about, I understand. But perhaps you should take your rhetoric to City Hall and not to a place where people are just looking for a spot to hang with friends. Will it survive? Or will it fail like the bar before or the store before etc., only time will tell.

Pour me a Guiness WhiteTruckDude, I'm on my way. Maybe pour me a few, I have transgressions on my mind, and a certain house I need to stagger past with a big smile on my face.

Alley Kat, I plan on checking out the Detour Bar, while you detour around it. So be it. I promise I won't drive, but I can't promise I won't do anything that you can't easily judge from up on your lofty perch.

Jim In replying to a comment from alley kat / January 30, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Alley, you should visit the Detour some time, it may change your impression of it. I've been going every Monday for the acoustic showcase, and the bar staff and patrons there are incredible people.

alley kat In replying to a comment from snork / January 31, 2011 at 12:42 PM

What most (or all) of you all fail to grasp is that Kensington was a functional community until the fairly recent proliferation of slam-dunk bar licensing. Your Detour is a prime example. The Province and the liquor producing conglomerates profit from the booze induced revelry that spills into the streets and all at the expense a once relatively quiet neighbourhood, and no one gives a rat's ass. How does one raise children when they can no longer sleep in their own beds? You move, and there goes the family dynamic from the community.

I suspect even you will eventually miss the neighbourhood experience which now draws you to drink in Kensington. Once it's gone forever, you'll likely indulge elsewhere and the developers will have their way.

Snarf / February 1, 2011 at 1:11 AM

Jesus Christ, rage much?!
Somebody get this girl a shot! Make it a double!

Detour is fucking amazing. Stay greezy ;)

snork / February 2, 2011 at 11:37 AM

And you are a lovely example of the "neighbourhood experience" alley kat.

It's my experience that neighbourhood bars have little effect on an area than to bring people for lunch or to patios in finer weather during the daytime. That in turn leads to increased business and sustainability to beloved Mom and Pop shops, either by people gaining knowledge of the area, or visiting shops while there (this will only help to keep your evil developers away). If a shop fails with increased foot traffic to it's street don't blame the new neighbours. Maybe you would rather blame the original business that failed and left the vacancy for the new tenant?

At night (when the aforementioned shops are closed) is when the bars start hopping, and I will grant you that the relative peace of your area may be affected.

So, you should actually be happy that there is renewal on a smaller scale happening in your area, if a Jack Astor's rolls in, our voices will raise together. That would NOT be cool with anyone. Then you'll be looking at 50 story condos going in and you'll ACTUALLY have something to complain about.

But in the meantime, you hate, we get it.

P.S. News flash: Prohibition has been and gone.

ben / April 20, 2011 at 9:07 PM

does this bar have chairs?

DetourBar In replying to a comment from ben / April 20, 2011 at 10:07 PM

Yes and stools and couches and a bench.

CR / April 22, 2011 at 2:39 PM

what is the contact info of this place, anyone?

CR / April 22, 2011 at 2:40 PM

what is the contact info of this place, anyone?

CR / April 22, 2011 at 2:51 PM

what is the contact info of this place, anyone?

blinky / April 22, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Tried it out. Lots of other places we'd rather hang.

Edo / May 21, 2011 at 8:49 PM

One of my favourite places in the world. I wish there were more people like this bar's owners.

Great vibe, great people, more affordable than most bars downtown. For ms. ally cats I can say that I used to live in this neighbourhood few years ago and I would never say it was a children friendly neighbourhood, If anything it was a "crack head" friendly neighbourhood!
So, enjoy the "realness" in living in the Market and go have a drink, you'll feel better making peace with your neighbours!

Arty In replying to a comment from Edo / May 22, 2011 at 10:55 AM

That reads like a commercial Edo. You must drink for free. Anyway Kensington has a 100 plus year history as a family neighbourhood and in fact some of its current inhabitants are second and third generation. Granted the hardcore druggies had their way once but now no more than the rest of the city. The bar's okay. The beer was cold. Some patrons seemed a bit shady the night I drank there.

Edo / August 13, 2011 at 8:42 PM

Typical bar but I gotta admit I'm getting tired of Paul compulsively cocking his head and flipping his hair back... right side... left side... right side... left side... etc. Starting to think he should get a room... with himself.

pinkeyy / November 24, 2011 at 7:31 PM


Dubstep / January 2, 2012 at 6:38 AM

And where's your proof that all the people going to K Market bars are from the suburbs?

Margeaux In replying to a comment from alley kat / April 12, 2012 at 2:01 PM

If you and "several people" thought this girl was in trouble, why didn't you or anyone help her?

Zed / June 4, 2012 at 6:15 PM

I read BlogTO because I ma crusty, have no life, and love to hate others that do. I just love to hate actually

superheroalleycat In replying to a comment from alley kat / July 8, 2012 at 8:13 PM

So alley kat you saw all this abuse go down in front of the bar to some girl and continued walking on without calling anyone to help her? Here you are criticizing everything in sight in KM, yet you witness abuse and walk on by then chirp about it later. If anything you might be the scuzziest part of the area. So less chirps from birds like you without thinking about it first. :)

COBB28ANGELINA / September 24, 2012 at 9:42 AM

I had got a dream to make my own commerce, but I didn't have got enough amount of money to do it. Thank heaven my dude told to utilize the mortgage loans. Thus I received the term loan and realized my old dream.

Chileshe / September 26, 2012 at 7:02 AM

I've been to Silk and Level 3 the major difference bewteen the two is Level 3 can draw a crowd. Both are pretty nice, swanky joints though.Never been to Element, I've tried a couple of times but the people I was out with at the time have always shot down the suggestion.The Firehouse isn't open yet. A little bird has told me that we can expect an August opening somewhere around Musikfest. I'm working on getting in early for a sneak peek. If I can get in I will definitely post some pics.Thanks for the suggestions!

Matiks / October 9, 2012 at 8:19 PM

the bar is friendly, good atmosphere, good staff. be a little open minded towards the music and you'll have a great time :) really like this place!

monolith In replying to a comment from Orly / January 30, 2013 at 7:36 PM

dude. it's 193 baldwin, pretty much at the corner of baldwin and augusta.

good to see fact checkers at work.

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