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Wayla Bar

Photo: James Kachan

Posted by Stephen M. Baldwin / May 3, 2010

What Are You Looking At has the style and colour of the two-page Tokion Magazine spread that was its inspiration. Also called WAYLA, Leslieville's newest spot aspires, like its neighbourhood, to draw trendy professionals down East Queen East.

The crowd is a stylish mid 20's to early 40's group of professional men and - with the exception of Sunday afternoon's gay-friendly Tea Party event - women. They're a mature and upbeat middle class bunch. WAYLA has that familiar contemporary-urban style with stretches of dilapidated brick walls and candlelight on tables and wall fixtures.

The comfort and style change up as you step through each corridor of the long and narrow space- some areas emphasizing comfort, others quiet. Stylish fixtures light up chic but sometimes oddly-shaped furniture and walls of modern art and mirrors. The lobby-like front lounge is a great place for conversation, and the area passed the bar is a cushy spot to enjoy the progressive house and electronic music. The bar area is cool and energetic, and the patio out back, despite concrete scenery and a cramped space, is actually a nice spot to be.

"We've already hosted several parties," one bartender says, "There's a DJ booth, and it's a great spot for dancing." The Bartenders, as well as owners Isreal Sanchez and Stephen Poquet -industry veterans, formerly of Sauvignon Bistro -- are friendly and enthusiastic.

A cocktail-happy menu is supported by a wall full of every brand of liquor and spirits that you could think of, with two beers on tap and a wide range of bottled brews. The first cocktail I try, a Tropical Buddha, is a mix of Malibu, Raspberry liqueur, ginger-pear and guava juice. I also test the Starry Night, a fruity vodka drink with a pomegranate taste. The drinks are tasty, but sugary, with sundae toppings like gummy bears and Maraschino cherries that amplify the sweetness.

If you don't dig sugar, stay away from the cocktails. They have a nice French beer, Kronenberg, on tap, along with the bitter English brand, Tetleys. The drinks are affordable, all $4-$8.

Their food selection consists of paté dips and cheese platters; refined pub grub, priced between five and seven dollars. Nice sidekicks to the drinks, but don't come there for the food.

Formerly Carlaw Carburators (The name to look out for, because they still have no signage), WAYLA is one of the only spots in the area open late seven days a week -isolated, though, in an area still fairly deserted on a Thursday night. But that will change. The spot is a perfect fit for the mature, trendy Leslieville community, but appealing also to Ossington and West Queen West bar buffs. Stay tuned for more nightlife revivals of industrial shops in the area.

Additional Details

Beers on Tap:
Kronenberg, Tetleys
Signature Drink:
Tropical Buddha (Malibu, Raspberry liqueur, ginger-pear and guava juice)
Bar Snacks:
Pate, dips, cheese platters, refined pub grub
Progressive house and electronic music
Live Music:
Who Goes There:
Mainly Leslieville, Queen East locals. Mature crowd (25-40)
Mon-Tues 6pm-2am, Wed-Sun 4 pm-2 am



Adam / May 4, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Those cocktails sound terrible. Why do 99% of Toronto bars gear their menus to teenage girls who arrived via time machine from 1998?

Sean / May 4, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Too bad their web page is 'under construction.' It should be ready in March. The one a couple of months ago or the one in 2011?

Coffeeholic / May 4, 2010 at 12:58 PM

I like the deco., esp. those chandelier at top of ceiling !

D / May 4, 2010 at 1:49 PM

Adam - the music is circa '98 too.

I really wanted to like this place. It's near my house and does look nice inside. I like that the bar is way in the back. But although the decade-old house beats led to a fun, do-you-remember-doing-tons-of-ecstasy convo, the awful, spoiled, putridly skunky beer (in a bottle!) makes it a no.

Amy / May 4, 2010 at 1:57 PM

No one goes to a place for it's Tropical Buddha. "Real" women like beer, wine and liquor and stuff that's not mixed up in a foo-foo glass that gives you a diabetic rush every time you take a sip. Gummy bears in your drink? Effin' gross!!! If we don't come here for the food (like you mentioned in the article), why do we come here? Get a breakfast or brunch in there on the weekends, ditch the crap drinks with cherries and perhaps I'll swing by.
Remember, real women like booze, not alcoholic laced liquid glucose.

Le_Jenk / May 4, 2010 at 2:39 PM

I too had skunky bottled beers here and switched to Kronenberg pints that seemed clean.

The Music did not fit the relaxed vibe. You should cater to the crowd if the place is not busy and it's 9:30pm save the canned beats for when the place is packed.

Decor looks nice but service (beer & music) needs some work.

fiveteamer / May 4, 2010 at 7:52 PM

What's with all this terrible beer on tap?

French beer?


There are really good beers brewed right here in Toronto. Start with those.

SMurphy / May 4, 2010 at 11:35 PM

Wow. Those cocktails sound horrid.

That said, the decor looks nice. As for the name, I would have kept the name of the old shop they replaced. Carlaw Carburators is an awesome name for a bar.

Dave / May 5, 2010 at 4:36 PM

Great Review. I agree why french beer? Gummy bears.... lol ok?

Justine / May 5, 2010 at 5:22 PM

Worst name for a bar ever.

warmflash / May 5, 2010 at 10:31 PM

It looks awfully dated.

wtvz / May 6, 2010 at 4:25 PM

"don't come there for the food"

really ? if you had a possible esl name that would be one thing but BUD , check your grammar !

come here
go there

those are your choices .

melvin / May 8, 2010 at 9:24 PM

^whoa, grammar police!

I think we all understood what was being conveyed. Solid review IMO.

Hunter / May 18, 2010 at 4:29 AM

I think good grammar is important specially if you want to call yourself a "Critic/Writer" it tells us about your level of education, moreover, whether or not this web-site has any editors. "but don't come there for the food" OMG. I was also startled when I red about Stephane's Poquet "formerly of Sauvignon Bistro". Sauvignon Bistro is a thriving well stablished resturant on the Beaches in business for the past eleven years and yes Stephane is still the owner. Going back to Editorial issue. Coincidently, I went to Sauvignon on Saturday night with friends and we had a great meal there. That is when I heard about Waylabar, Stephane's new venture. We deceided to check it out after dinner. Upon arrival The place was very busy with a great crowd of hip well dressed people. There was a DJ playing House Music. The atmosphere was great. We found the drink menu innovative and fun. The Staff was very friendly and welcoming. We end up closing the place. I can't wait to go back on the long weekend.

Rico In replying to a comment from fiveteamer / May 18, 2010 at 7:59 PM

Uh, Kronenbourg is a great beer. Yes, Ontario microbrews are something to definitely get into, but Krony is a keeper. Some people go there specifically for that.

Brad / August 10, 2010 at 4:44 PM

Agreed: Kronenbourg is a fine beverage.

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