The Emmet Ray - a new bar at College and Dovercourt - with its large, brass lettering and sober-looking interior, looks at first glance that it might be competing with its neighbour, The Brass Taps, in the Irish-pub department. That's not the case at all, though. Devoid of Brass Taps' neon signs, television sets and dartboards, Emmet Ray is a classy joint, with a short but upscale menu, and a selection of over forty types of whiskey; not to mention some of the nicest service you'll ever get.
I was greeted warmly upon arrival and led carefully through the menu, opting for the homemade chicken pot pie, which did not disappoint with its rich sauce, flaky pastry, and unusual, but very complementary accompaniments of homemade mustard and chutney. My fellow diners/drinkers gave the pate dish and the cheese platter the thumbs-up, too.
While there was nothing in the bar's atmosphere to offend - the David Bowie and Johnny Cash that looped in the background were pleasant enough, and the staff were so lovely I wanted to hug them goodbye when we left - there was also nothing terribly remarkable. This is a nice place to come for a quiet chat, or to take your parents out when they're in town. The crowd was a sedate mix of 30- and 40-somethings out for a casual drink and a bite to eat, with nary a hard drinker or a troublemaker among them. Not that there's anything wrong with that. It's just very civilized.
Whiskey connoisseurs might argue that the bar's forty varieties of whiskey are indeed remarkable, and I must admit that I can barely tell a shot of whiskey from a... well, a shot of anything, to be honest. The bar also fills a bit of a niche at College and Dovercourt, where dinner options are limited, and nightlife options have pretty much been restricted to aging city landmark The Matador for the past 35 years. Now with the addition of The Emmet Ray, the nightlife spectrum is expanding a little at College and Dovercourt, albeit slowly.
It's still early days for The Emmet Ray, which just opened a few weeks ago and is still in the process of getting settled. Coming up: "Psychedelic Sundays" as well as cheap drink nights during the week, like "If it's brown, drink it down" Mondays with select $1 whiskey shots. Emmet Ray also has a good wine selection, with plans for a rotating wine list and an expanding menu. Due to delays getting its ATM services set up, the bar is currently only accepting cash, so stock up on benjamins before you go to make sure you have plenty on hand for homemade pot pies and shots of whiskey.
Writing by Jessica McGann