By day, Kensington Market is a booming consortium of ethnic food shops, used clothing stores, cafes, and eateries. However, by night it nearly becomes a ghost town, as most storefronts are armoured with graffiti-covered metallic shutters and the streets are relatively empty if not for a few derelicts or those carney-types who juggle torches in Bellevue Park (what's up with them anyway?).
For such an eclectic section of town, the bar options in Kensington are rather limited. Last Temptation is a grungy mish-mash of cheap beer and greasy food, Supermarket is a slightly more upscale (and subsequently, slightly more expensive) bar/restaurant that caters to the DJ dance crowd on most nights, and Ronnie's Local is an overcrowded watering hole that blares classic punk and stocks a specialized beer selection. And there's Augusta House but it's only open 4 nights a week.
Finally, we come to The Embassy, a tastefully decorated, almost understated bar/lounge.
Like Ronnie's, The Embassy stocks an impressive selection of beers, one that will please those who consider themselves connoisseurs. Draught choices range from Blanche de Chambly, to Okanagan 1516, to a trio of beers from McAuslan, including their delicious Apricot Wheat Ale.
You won't find anything with a Molson or Labatt logo on tap or in bottles, which is a rare occurrence. Impressively, the bar stocks 750 ml bottles of various beers by QuĂŠbec's Unibroue, including Chambly Noir, Fin du Monde, and Maudite.
Unlike Ronnie's, there is usually a comfortable amount of breathing room at The Embassy (save for peak hours during the weekend). Moreover, it is rare that the bartender will ignore you or give you sass for ordering their cheapest beer (Believe me Ronnie's bartenders, I don't like Labatt 50, but on some nights that's all I can afford!)
The bar's decor is more unassuming than that of its Kensington counterparts. On one side, an exposed brick wall is lined with retro booths, complete with folding red vinyl seats, while the other wall is lined with metallic gold loveseats that are unfortunately more pleasant to look at than sit on. Standard issue ambiance-creating tealights are on each table and a few street art-inspired paintings can be found hanging on the walls.
The food on The Embassy's menu is supplied by local organic eatery Freshwood Grill . Patrons have the option to indulge in a selection of sandwiches like steak, Moroccan curry chicken, falafel, and grilled vegetable, all served on homemade organic sourdough flatbread.
Ultimately, The Embassy is a good option for those looking for a subtle, relaxing spot to sip a well-crafted beer while sitting upon the finest retro vinyl-covered cushioning.
Writing by Ian Leipurts