Holy Oak Cafe
Holy Oak Cafe is a local haunt that's been there for me and the rest of the Bloordale community as a bar, cafe, music venue, community space and more. I've danced here until last call and arrived here early in the morning to suck down coffee and get some hardcore work done. I've been to queer dance parties and acoustic shows here. Holy Oak is whatever you want it to be.
They have crazy hours, opening at 8 a.m. and staying open until 2 a.m. like a regular bar every night except for Monday, when they close at 7 (employees are also given a scant bit of shut eye weekends when Holy Oak opens at 9). This is part of what I mean when I say it's been there for me: whether you're in desperate need of a coffee or beer, Holy Oak is there to serve you.
There are two prime tables near the window and a functional piano at the front, and this is usually where bands set up to play. Other than the piano there's just one PA system, so performers usually bring the bulk of their own equipment.
They bake from scratch here, and though there are some standards like spanokopita and a menu of sandwiches you're never totally sure what they're going to have when you walk in. We arrive to freshly baked banana chocolate chip muffins ($2.50).
Though uptight Canadians are getting more used to the somewhat European practice, there still aren't many places you can get a coffee and then a beer, or vice versa. Their taps are primarily St. Ambroise, and this is the Cream Ale. Draft is $7 - $8, and they have a variety of European and local craft bottles and cans too, like Collective Arts and Delirium.
You can always depend on Holy Oak's lineup of grilled cheeses, but today we opt for a special kale, sweet potato and chicken soup ($8). All the food here has that homemade feel because that's exactly what it is, and this soup is nicely nutmeggy in its spices, the vegetables tender.
Holy Oak knows how to help you get stuff done: all the coffees are doubles here, like this latte ($4). You can also add a shot of Bailey's for $4.
They make sure to have vegan and gluten/dairy free options, like vegan maple walnut bars and gluten free brownies that are never dry ($3).
It's mostly single tables and chairs though there's some pew seating, and the bar is at the back. Order here and take items to your table, and bring cash because that's all they take.
Photos by Hector Vasquez