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Photo: Jesse Milns

Posted by Alexandra Grigorescu / November 27, 2012

Wallflower opened up just over 2 weeks ago on Dundas West, and is announced on a Saturday night by a street-side sandwich board, and a large front window coated in condensation.

The owners of 3 Speed have taken over the former home of Naco Gallery Cafe, and transformed its lilac theme into a space which is instantly reminiscent of some eccentric aunt's home (you know the one). Vintage-looking wooden tables hold tall vases with sprigs of flowers, and when we first come in, a Bowie record cover sits shrine-like below a three-armed lamp. The record on display changes along with the music--even James Brown makes an appearance.

A large, latticed chandelier and strings of Christmas lights illuminate the bar, behind which sits a decent selection of wine (they won my heart by having a nice Argentinian malbec as the house red and a tempranillo to boot). There are panels of floral wallpaper throughout, and an assortment of bric-a-brac that admittedly grows on me. Beer arrives in squat beer steins, which I swear hold less than a pint, and the cost supports this (2 Beau's come to $8.84).

Two of Naco's three rooms are used to seat the red-lipsticked and well-groomed clientele, with the third having been transformed into a kitchen. There are ambitious plans to open the patio come nicer weather, with direct entry from the ground-level. Naco's back room sports several tables, a more muted beige colour palette, and lounging locals speaking quietly beneath kitschy portraits.

Particularly interesting are the bar snacks--refer back to the previous eccentric aunt comment. Deviled eggs are served with shrimp and avocado ($1.50), fish cakes ($6), and the menu tops out at $10 for a cheese plate. You'll also find oysters, and dessert in the form of not-appetizing-in-theory, but potentially delicious chocolate plantain cream pie ($4).

There are fewer people populating the space than I'd expect, but Wallflower seems content not to announce itself with loud gimmicks--a possibly wise choice on a street that's seen more than its share of bars crop up recently. The crowd included a seated and not at all rowdy party (complete with birthday balloons), a man who embraced Movember whole-heartedly, and two women sipping Prosecco.

The bar as a whole is reminiscent of "The Dream of the 1890's is Alive in Portland," which is not a bad thing. There's a salon atmosphere that I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more teased out--throw in an Old Fashioned, a couple crocheted blankets, and some ragtime tunes, and you might have yourself a regular.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Mill St. Cobblestone stout, Duggan's, Beau's, Spark House Red Ale, King Pilsner
Signature Drink:
None yet
Bar Snacks:
Deviled eggs, chicken and oyster a la king
Throwback tunes
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
20-somethings who have a healthy appreciation for vintage
5 p.m. - close, 7 nights a week



nicole / November 27, 2012 at 12:29 PM

I pass by this space every day and was hoping someone would optimize on its charm post-Naco. Mission accomplished! Looking forward to checking it out.

p.s. I think you meant "The Dream of the 1880's is Alive in Portland".

johnsonstarfish / November 27, 2012 at 1:19 PM

If this place is anywhere close to as good as 3 Speed is, it'll be packed every night not too far from now. 3 Speed is by far my favourite bar in the city for food, drink, atmosphere, service, patio... it's got it all. Best of luck on this new venture.

Betty / November 27, 2012 at 2:07 PM

Been there twice and I'm not sure why it is being characterized as a place for 20-somethings, vintage fans or not. It's a cozy neighbourhood bar with an appealing menu, and that's something people of all ages -- especially those of us who live in the area - can appreciate. I'd take my kid there at 5 p.m. and encourage my artsy 50-plus neighbours to try it too.

cultureshot / November 27, 2012 at 2:12 PM

Naco hosted some really awesome dance parties; I hope this place will carry on the tradition...

Elle / November 27, 2012 at 2:26 PM

This place is down the street from me and is so cozy - really friendly staff and low-key vibe. The bar snacks sound incredibly tasty and they have Newcastle on tap. It's great that they're open 7/7.

Sarah / November 27, 2012 at 7:52 PM

@Nicole Actually, it's "The Dream of the 1890s", but whatever, it's totally alive.

Sando / November 27, 2012 at 8:14 PM

You talk about the patio and then say there isn't one. I've had a smoke on it, it's lovely. And yeah, I don't get why you say it's made for 20-somethings; doesn't seem that way to me at all. Also, why not tell us how the food is? Seems like an important thing to mention in a restaurant review. The writer seems lazy. You can learn more about the place from the photos and the comments section.

Alex In replying to a comment from Sando / November 27, 2012 at 8:35 PM

At the time the review was written (now), there is no patio. At the time I visited the bar (last Saturday), it was filled with 20-somethings. Frankly, I'm surprised that people are so up in arms about this term—why the hate? I'm a 20-something, and I quite like it. As for the food, I didn't have the opportunity to try some, and so felt it would be disingenuous to comment. / December 3, 2012 at 4:13 AM

taking time and real effort to make a good article. Cool!

stephanie / December 27, 2012 at 2:18 PM

Just wondering if you'll be open January 2nd.

Miss Lisa / June 21, 2013 at 5:54 PM

Loved how you wrote this, Alexandra! Beautifully portrayed.

Just a Customer / December 5, 2013 at 2:02 PM

I went to this place a couple of nights ago, and I really liked the ambiance when I first entered. Beautiful wallpapers and the setting was very warm and welcoming.

However, I found the staff to be rude and unfriendly. I was with a couple of friends who were visiting me from another country. First when we asked to have 2 tables at the front (it was already late and not many people were going to show up obviously), they were a bit hesitant because they usually don't put tables together, but finally decided to put two together for us to sit us in the space at the front. However, while they were doing so, they made it very clear that they were not happy about it, as they were yanking the chairs and tables, making a lot of noise that made both us and the rest of the people there very uncomfortable. And then when my friends wanted to order, they mispronounced the names of some menu items. However, right after they ordered, I actually saw the host and the bartender look our way and laugh from behind the bar, and make fun of my friends. I found this to be very rude, and it kind of ruined my mood for the rest of the night. I wanted to say something to the staff but I did not want my friends to feel any more out-of-place than they already did. It's a shame that you still find people in Toronto that are unopen to diversity, and insensitive to people's feelings.

Having said that, I have never had the same experience at 3 Speed. Hopefully, the staff at Wallflower will learn to be a bit nicer and friendlier.

alexis d In replying to a comment from Just a Customer / January 28, 2014 at 8:51 PM

hmmm, that's odd. I've always found the staff to be more than friendly here (it's one of my favourite, low key places to go).
perhaps there was a misunderstanding or they were having an off night as we all do sometimes?
great place with great food (at a great price)!

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