The Marquis of Granby
The Marquis of Granby opened quietly last week on Church, north of Gerrard – the site previously home to landmark gay destination The Barn for the last 20+ years.
The new owners plan to cash in on all the nearby university students, but with so much space the venue really is more suited to its former function as a club. The first floor seems too vast and looming to radiate the warmth and coziness of a classic pub, not to mention there are two expansive floors above.
An English pub in name alone, neither the decor nor menu really speak to the theme. The sparse adornments (do TVs count?) don't make much of a positive impression. There's one piece of vintage advertising-styled artwork that I'm told was commissioned from John Leacy, but it feels a bit like a consolation prize considering the oversized cowboy mural he originally painted on the South exterior wall has now been blacked-out "in compliance with bylaws."
The menu plays it safe with barroom staples that go well with pints of Mill St. and Steam Whistle ($7). There's classic pub grub like nachos, burgers, wings and plenty of fried finger foods. Think jalapeno poppers, deep fried pickles and mozza sticks) with a couple lighter selections like the Garden Green Salad ($7) and Bruschetta ($5.50) to offer a hint of freshness. Chatting with General Manager Chris Karachalios leads me to suspect that most of it isn't made from scratch.
We try the Banquet Burger ($12) and a pound of Wings ($12), but I have nothing to wax on about since I'm pretty sure the patty came out of a box.
The wings, however, offer a bit of redemption. They're definitely plump and meaty, the batter is seasoned before being doused in honey garlic and the come served with a buttermilk dill dip and veggie sticks.
Upstairs is on open offer to anyone looking to host a club night or dance party and is already booked for some queer dance parties in the coming weeks. On the main floor the best novelty is the digital jukebox, controlled via free iphone app (it also doubles as a photobooth).
Perhaps it makes sense to target the college crowd, though I'd credit even the most budget conscious among them with more discerning tastes these days. Perhaps in the end all that will matter is that cocktails are $6 and they serve the house, Marquis Lager by the big'un (that's a three litre pitcher) for $25.
Photos by Jesse Milns