Bang Bang Bar

Bang Bang Bar quietly landed in the heart of Little Italy just over a month ago, and I was surprised to learn it was a direct transplant from the Bloor and Keele area. Having never visited its previous incarnation, I approach the space with fresh eyes--which, according to the bartender, is the whole idea. The old 'hood, paired with a presumed lack of clientele, prompted the change.

When I arrive, it's too early for the bar's evening revamp as a karaoke bar, and the space is more or less deserted. Fortunately, it grants me the bartender's full attention - I ask for a cocktail recommendation and she cooly informs me that they're known for martinis ($9.50), following a tongue-in-cheek comment about stiletto-ed 19-year-old-girls ordering Sex on the Beach. The Jolly Apple, with its blend of citron vodka, sour apple and lime is appropriately lip-puckering and stiffer than I'm used to for under $10. My boyfriend's bottle of Stella comes in at $6.75 while draught is $7.50.

Wine ranges from $5 to $9 for a 4 oz. glass, while retro shots ($7.50) and cocktails ($7.75) range from a Bourbon Street, which mixes Jack and amaretto, to a Zombie .

Then there's the decor: pseudo-gothic chandeliers encased in semi-transparent black screens, clashing monochrome baroque prints on the wall and couches off-setting the white cubic furniture.

We can't forget the piece-de-resistance: the plastic, armless (and mostly anatomically correct) busts announcing the men's and women's washrooms. Even the chairs are studded Parsons, and the high-tables bear Grecian columns for legs. It's certainly a look, but part of me suspects that it will fare better after a few good years of wear and tear.

In terms of food, prices are exceedingly reasonable with "anything and everything for $8:" order 2, and the price goes down to $7, or 3 and it's reduced to $6. Substitutions and extras--within reason--are permitted. Gourmet poutine includes the fascinating Long Dong Silver, a mix of grilled duck and porcini mushrooms over curds and gravy, or bacon-wrapped sea scallops. I can't speak to the quality, but a definite gold star for innovation on what could've otherwise been a very bland bar menu.

My boyfriend arrived before me, and was thus treated to a comment that bears repeating: "we play a lot more Jersey Shore (on the many TV screens) in this neighbourhood. We didn't use to do that at Bloor and Keele." Touche. I'm told that they're more of an evening bar, but by 8 p.m., there are still precious few patrons--the space is promising, but word-of-mouth hasn't yet worked its magic. My recommendation: give it a few months.

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