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Unlovable

Photo: Jonathan Loek

Posted by Ben Spurr / July 23, 2010

Unlovable is positively subterranean in a city that has its share of underground and basement bars. Practically camouflaged beneath a travel agency on Dundas West, the place is invisible unless you're standing right in front of it, and even then your only clue that there might be something going on inside is the fleet of road bikes (the preferred conveyance of the under-30 hipster set) chained up outside on any given night.

In honour of history's most famous basement bar, co-owner Jamal Watson says he originally wanted to call the place Shitty Cheers, but eventually opted to name it after a Smiths song instead. A reference to those purveyors of adolescent angst pop fits perfectly with the decor of the place, which looks like the interior of a bedroom belonging to an intellectual teenager, complete with kitschy Soviet propaganda posters on the walls, a Philadelphia Flyers garbage can, and a Star Wars pinball machine (free to play, by the way).

On the back wall written in chalk are memorable quotes from the owners and some of their friends. Words of wisdom like "Don't toast to Will Smith. He wouldn't for you." Filled with thrift store knick knacks, Watson says the original inspiration for the layout of the bar was the inside of the Beaver's dam in Chronicles of Narnia. "But like if the Beaver was from Brooklyn," he says.

Drinks wise Unlovable, which Watson co-owns with Sweaty Betty's proprietor Pol Williams and Unfamiliar Records' Greg Ipp, offers a wide but familiar selection of beers, with the obligatory tall can of PBR costing $5 and Molson Stock Ale setting you back $4. If you're feeling flush, spring for a bottle of Heineken at $6. The house specialty is a Dark and Stormy made with Sailor Jerry's rum and corner store ginger beer, priced at $7.25. The food menu is predictably unpretentious and features only two items: Jamaican beef patties and, for the brave of heart and strong of stomach, microwavable bowls of Stag Chili .

The neighbourhood west of Dufferin on Dundas already has its fair share of watering holes, but unless you're a fan of Portuguese soccer they unfortunately don't offer much. Along with the Atlantic and the Henhouse down the street, Unlovable is the latest bar pulling the Ossington party crowd further West.

Although it's only been open for two weeks, Unlovable's already lined up three reliable weekly parties. Scott Cudmore has abandoned his weekly gig at Sweaty Betty's to helm old school jam Big Trouble in Little Portugal every Tuesday, and party scene fixture Dave LaMerde is spinning reggae tunes every Saturday under the title Jamaican Me Crazy. On Friday nights former Deadly Snakes frontman Max McCabe teams up with BBQ's Mark Sultan to host something called Ape Sodom. If nothing else, these guys have a way with names.

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Other Cities: Montreal