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Rock 'n' Horse Saloon

Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Jen Hunter / December 6, 2013

The Rock 'n' Horse Saloon opens today in the former London Tap House site on Adelaide St. West. Going head to head with Boots & Bourbon in the east end to draw the most cowboy boots and 10 gallon hats in Toronto, MRG Ventures have retrofitted the popular Entertainment District nightspot to accommodate homesick Westerners with line-dancing and a mechanical bull, as well as a cowboy-themed menu. The barstools are crafted from genuine saddles, and the bathroom doors have been replaced with swinging saloon doors.

Cosmetics aside, the actual space (notwithstanding the bull - we'll get to that later) is essentially the same as the Tap House was. Even the huge rooftop patio looks pretty much unchanged. What has been drastically altered, however, is the atmosphere. With live music planned for most nights of the week, and the somewhat more organized (than your average sweaty Entertainment District dance bar) line-dancing, one would expect a more civil affair. That's not the case.

Though the dance floor is a much more attractive option than before, the ice between patrons is broken with the assistance of enormous margaritas (The Bulldog - $14.75) with upturned Coronas stuffed in them. After a few of these have floated around the room, the Dutch courage drags people onto that otherwise treacherous-looking bull, which had this correspondent tossed about like a rag doll in seconds.

Dishes like the bone-in ribeye ($19) are predictably huge. Served with gigantic polenta fries and tomato & molasses cowboy beans, it's an intimidating affair. Otherwise, the menu hits the kind of comfort notes you'd expect from an Entertainment District venue: wings ($12/lb), burgers (made from either prime rib or bison ($14) and buttermilk fried chicken ($17) are all given the City Slickers treatment, and the staff do their best to convince you that you've just walked into Nashville. They're also building a general store selling all things country-related (should you show up underdressed) including belt buckles, hats, shirts, and the like.

The most notable improvement is the focus on providing an experience before the nightlife crowd show up after 10pm. It's the kind of place you'd be keen to bring visiting family: they hit all the fun notes, it's completely devoid of pretension, and your father-in-law can't complain about the portions. They've also lined the bar area with plenty of TVs, so it's not a bad place to grab a pint and watch the game, until that dance floor fills up with big hair and plaid shirts.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Stella Artois, Rolling Rock, Shock Top, Labatt 50, Guinness, Sapporo, Mill Street Tank House
Signature Drink:
The Bulldog: Lime, Mango, Strawberry, or raspberry margarita topped with a bottle of Corona
Bar Snacks:
Wings, Burgers, nachos, Chili Dogs, quesadillas.
Patio:
Yes
Music/Genre:
County
Live Music:
Yes
Who Goes There:
After work Bay Street types, tourists, country music aficionados, line dance enthusiasts, anyone who wants to ride a mechanical bull
Hours:
Monday - Saturday 6:30-2:00am

Discussion

10 Comments

AV / December 6, 2013 at 9:23 AM
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The bouncer looks like a fucking giant... love it

nb / December 6, 2013 at 10:11 AM
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I really have to wonder about the longevity of some of these gimmick bars.

All you gotta do is put a drink in my hand In replying to a comment from nb / December 6, 2013 at 10:25 AM
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Country music is experiencing a big time revolution.
A couple country bars in town is exactly whats been needed.

Sure this place is probably going to trend towards the "club" side things over the long haul, due to its location and the after 10pm vibe.

But Boots & Bourbon has a more distinctive feel to it. Its actually like going to Tootsies or Stages in Nashville. Smaller venue, intimate, great for live music, not an ounce of douche, people there to have fun, and enjoy the great music.

Great to finally have these options.

We're just fishing In replying to a comment from AV / December 6, 2013 at 10:25 AM
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Pretty sure thats Trace Adkins.

amen / December 6, 2013 at 2:05 PM
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Good call. You're speaking some truth Mike.

Country bar vibe is a complete 180 of what you would get at a regular club.


Mike / December 6, 2013 at 3:37 PM
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I just wanted to say that a lot of the staff have carried over from the tap house. They are probably the most friendly bar staff in the city.

If you're looking for a fun, non pretentious night out in Toronto this is a great place to go.

Cheers

Donnie / December 6, 2013 at 9:26 PM
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Country music is the second most popular music. Hip Hop passed it a few years ago. Makes total sense with all the tourists downtown, American tourists, The Buffalo Bills.

Love it!!!

Jill / December 6, 2013 at 11:26 PM
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Its a saloon the classic American pub, we all love pubs but there is a irish pub saturation in Toronto, I'd gladly go to a Saloon once and a while.

Jenny / December 8, 2013 at 4:29 PM
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Attended the Grand Opening weekend and had a BLAST. Non pretentious fun, VERY friendly staff, great atmosphere, and I even got to ride the bull (!!). The only thing that sucked was the line up outside in the cold, but it went rather quickly. Maybe they should get some heat lamps like they have on their patio (smoking area). The patio is one of the best in DT Toronto, very excited to drink up there in the summer.

Jason / February 5, 2014 at 5:50 PM
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^ya that

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