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.