The Painted Lady has been my favourite bar on the Ossington strip this year, which all started when I ended up there on Easter Sunday only to hear a DJ spinning the very best of '90s hip-hop. At first it seemed odd that a bar looking like it was uprooted right from pre-Katrina New Orleans would have a hip-hop night, but when you take in account that a) on any given night the music here varies from Hendrix to Springsteen to Arrested Development, and b) owners Nicky Potter and Sam Papatragiannis are actually themselves uprooted from New Orleans via South Africa and Scarborough, respectively, then the combination makes sense.
The idea for a bar actually came from living in New Orleans, when they wanted to open a place where all the hookers could mingle with regular folk (outside of the brothel I guess). It seemed the next best thing was a bar across from a former strip club on Ossington, and naming it after the infamous "painted ladies" of New Orleans. Not to mention the practicality of it, as both Potter and Papatragiannis live above it and simply wanted a bar they would love to go to.
From its dark-finished wood, beautifully ornate bar stocked with liquor from classy (nice scotch and tequila) to crazy (plans to get absinthe - the real stuff you can't get at the LCBO - are in the works for the coming months) and the wall of around 50 or so paintings and photographs of various women, they've created a space that is as welcoming as your local dive bar, but impressive enough to bring a first date. Be sure to get there early though for a coveted spot on the small front patio or the open air sofa, as it fills up around dinner time.
Speaking of food, the menu is more than your typical bar as well, with everything homemade and, for the budget-minded, nothing over $10. There's the pulled-pork with original bbq sauce, the skewered Korean kabobs or the white trash nachos (Fritos, homemade chilli and Cheez Whiz, which looks a lot better than it sounds) to highlight just a few.
The 12 taps offer a good assortment of Canadian microbrews like Mill Street, as well as some staples and obscure euro imports, like the wheat ale Weihenstephan, to round it out. They've even had a mixologist (AKA fancy bartender) design an assortment of signature drinks (2 oz for $12.50), the most interesting being the Painted Pink Lady, with gin, brandy, lemon juice and an egg froth on top. Regular cocktails are $8.50.
With plans for a backyard patio, as well as new summer hours to cater to the weekend brunch crowd, the Painted Lady is definite must-stop venue on any Dundas West/Ossington bar crawl.
Writing by Jesse Kinos-Goodin