Hole in the Wall
Hole in the Wall doesn’t pull any punches with its name: the long narrow bar is essentially just that, although it’s not a converted alleyway like other bars in Toronto. It’s been a bar for over a decade with several sets of owners, but it was built somewhere around 1900.
According to the owners of the antique store next door this place may have once been a cafe, toy shop, dress shop, apartment, and meat pie stand, apparently it was always appropriately called Hole in the Wall. It’s now under the direction of brothers Ben and Jack Wilkinson, who also run Junction City Music Hall.
It’s all exposed brick and warm wood tones in here, but the most noticeable thing about the space is its slenderness, barely enough room to squeeze past seats at the bar to get to the bathroom at the back.
A chalkboard advertises quaint but chic nightly specials, such as the soft scrambled eggs with escargot and smoked trout on toast ($9). The supple, smoky trout comes from local fisherman Jim Giggie, and the escargot provide chewy, savoury surprises while the bread is almost unexpectedly supportive of the creamy egg.
Spicy Chinatown calamari ($12) comes with chilis, scallions and sesame seeds. These provide zings of flavour on top of crispy fried calamari over a sriracha honey that ties it all together.
At the bottom of the chalkboard are the words “ask about dessert,” so we must. We’re brought an airy caramel chocolate mousse with graham cracker crumbs for texture and a very citrus-y creme fraiche.
You’re as likely to be here for just a drink as food: classics like a gin sour ($12) are beautifully executed with a stiff head of egg white foam and textbook cocktail art.
The Little Citrus in the Big City is an example of a more seasonal cocktail, which run around $13. Smoky and flavourful apple tequila, balancing dry vermouth, and fragrant grapefruit bitters and liqueur situate this fresh but punchy cocktail perfectly between winter and spring.
A rotating list of craft beer pints ($6.64) are available in bottles, cans, and from sixteen taps, usually including selections like Beau’s, Side Launch, Collective Arts, Waupoos, Collingwood and more. At the back of the bar there’s a small stage where music starts nearly nightly at 10 p.m.