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.