Wallflower opened up just over 2 weeks ago on Dundas West , and is announced on a Saturday night by a street-side sandwich board, and a large front window coated in condensation.
The owners of 3 Speed have taken over the former home of Naco Gallery Cafe , and transformed its lilac theme into a space which is instantly reminiscent of some eccentric aunt's home (you know the one). Vintage-looking wooden tables hold tall vases with sprigs of flowers, and when we first come in, a Bowie record cover sits shrine-like below a three-armed lamp. The record on display changes along with the music--even James Brown makes an appearance.
A large, latticed chandelier and strings of Christmas lights illuminate the bar, behind which sits a decent selection of wine (they won my heart by having a nice Argentinian malbec as the house red and a tempranillo to boot). There are panels of floral wallpaper throughout, and an assortment of bric-a-brac that admittedly grows on me. Beer arrives in squat beer steins, which I swear hold less than a pint, and the cost supports this (2 Beau's come to $8.84).
Two of Naco's three rooms are used to seat the red-lipsticked and well-groomed clientele, with the third having been transformed into a kitchen. There are ambitious plans to open the patio come nicer weather, with direct entry from the ground-level. Naco's back room sports several tables, a more muted beige colour palette, and lounging locals speaking quietly beneath kitschy portraits.
Particularly interesting are the bar snacks--refer back to the previous eccentric aunt comment. Deviled eggs are served with shrimp and avocado ($1.50), fish cakes ($6), and the menu tops out at $10 for a cheese plate. You'll also find oysters, and dessert in the form of not-appetizing-in-theory, but potentially delicious chocolate plantain cream pie ($4).
There are fewer people populating the space than I'd expect, but Wallflower seems content not to announce itself with loud gimmicks--a possibly wise choice on a street that's seen more than its share of bars crop up recently. The crowd included a seated and not at all rowdy party (complete with birthday balloons), a man who embraced Movember whole-heartedly, and two women sipping Prosecco.
The bar as a whole is reminiscent of " The Dream of the 1890's is Alive in Portland ," which is not a bad thing. There's a salon atmosphere that I wouldn't mind seeing a bit more teased out--throw in an Old Fashioned, a couple crocheted blankets, and some ragtime tunes, and you might have yourself a regular.