Tennessee Tavern is a kitschy bar with an Eastern European menu, heavyweight drink list, and a long and storied history. It’s now owned by Grant van Gameren, Alec Colyer, and Max Rimaldi.
A menu that reads “Tennessee Open Grill” featuring two-dollar steaks hangs in the front entrance as a reminder that this place first opened in the 1950s. It was Mitzi’s Sister for a long time before being converted to The Sister, then a different, shadier version of the Tennessee for a while.
There’s always been a stage that could host live music, and the new Tennessee Tavern is upping its game by having DJ acts and the like in.
Hundred-year-old bar tables dot the spacious room. The back bar is from a Polish steelworkers bar, and the middle bar is from The Roxton, both originally from 1800s Buffalo.
The action of a back patio revolves around a giant birdcage from Smash.
Cucumber salad with Bulgarian feta cream ($7.95) is dressed with bitter caraway and dill. The cool bitterness helps balance out other heavy, fatty parts of the menu.
A big pretzel with yellow mustard ($7.95) and pickles is perfect for sharing, soft with a crackly lacquered crust and hunks of salt.
A mixed pepperette cup ($9) also embraces the small plate/sharing/bar snack attitude, with mild and quite spicy pork as well as beef dry whips.
The smoked fish plate ($27.95) is a platter of smoky and juicy salmon, trout, mackerel, and slightly lighter-tasting eel (head included) served with pita, pickled onion, sour cream and caper berries.
Cevapi ($12.95) are a traditional zesty Balkan sausage, served in typical fashion with pita, a roasted red pepper ajvar spread, cheesy kajmak and raw onion.
Pierogis ($6.95 for six, $11.95 for 12, $22.25 for 24) are an amazingly comforting meal for one or snack to share, stuffed with cheese and potato and topped with crunchy bacon and fried onions.
Cabbage rolls ($12.95) are a comfort classic too, pork, beef, bacon and rice wrapped in slightly bitter cabbage leaves, soaked in a sweeter tomato sauce and liberally topped with sour cream.
The massive Tennessee Platter ($39.95) comes with cevapi, perfect veal schnitzel, Debracyna sausage, sweet wood smoked pork, a spicy carrot salad and horseradish cream eggs.
An extensive bar list features nitro draft, amaro, rakija, absinthe and whiskey. There's also a wine list replete with hard-to-find options from Eastern Europe.
A “Smoked Fish Appetizers” neon sign is from the movie Hairspray.
The space drips with crosses, mini liquor bottles, and chandeliers, and the music is a mix of blues, rock n’ roll, and horn bands. The bathroom is Instagrammably custom graffiti’d with a Czech whiskey drinking song. All these elements combine to make this a truly Canadian tavern.
Bring a winter coat, get a cocktail on us!
Make space in your closet by clearing out all your old coats, or pick one up on the way to Tennessee Tavern, Harry's Charbroiled or Prettyugly Bar on Nov 26 - bonus karma for much needed kids and womens outerwear. All winter coats will be donated to New Circles Community Services to help bring warmth to the community this winter.
We will be celebra...