There's something afoot on Dundas West . Traditionally the place you went to get a Portuguese tart or some other kind of fix, the last few years has seen a steady stream of bars and food joints inching steadily west. And while the strip still has enough dollar shops and dives to keep its ghetto-chic credentials, a week can't seem to go by without another opening in the old car repair district.
Launched last year west of Dufferin, the Henhouse plants its flag even further afield and declares 'Here be no dragons'. Run by Katie Sketch and Jenny Smyth formally of Vancouver rock outfit The Organ , this little bar is already ticking a lot of the right boxes.
For two people who didn't know anything about opening a bar except that they wanted to do it, the former Organist's have done an impressive job of making this former crack den cozy. The interior is a mash-up of styles much indebted to the schools of Value Village and craigslist - think lots of lamps and knick-knacks your granny used to have. The shabby-stylish aesthetic works and this labor of love feels like it's been here longer than just a few months.
At the bar things are kept simple. Don't expect cocktails but with Cameron's Lager on tap for $5.00 why would you? Beer enthusiasts will be pleased with the selection of local brews (Cameron's Pale, Mill St, Creemore) plus the usual wines, spirits and mixers.
The small kitchen currently turns out a rotating menu of cheap and cheerful soups such as Shrimp Bisque, Minestrone with Pesto and Black Bean w/ avocado sour cream, and the all-you-can-eat pancake brunch sounds pretty hard not to like.
Drawing a mainly local clientele, the friendly staff ensures a relaxed, comfy atmosphere. A jukebox filled with owner Sketch's personal collection covers everything from Dionne Warwick to Joy Division, and the cheap beer guarantees patrons will have shrapnel to swing to.
In-between all that drinking and djing you may have occasion to visit the washrooms. Wall-papered with old high school yearbooks, it's nice seeing all that 70's hair en vogue again back in the bar, and a pleasing reminder that some things never go out of fashion.
Things like a local with cheap beer, good food and friendly staff. Things that seem to be popping up more and more along Dundas West these days.
Writing by Daniel Kuseta