SpeakEasy 21 is a new sleek cocktail lounge in Scotiabank Plaza. Where most prohibition-style pubs aspire to an air of secretiveness, this 1920s-inspired venue is entirely on display, walled with glass and lit up like a fish bowl from the street. Come summer, a sprawling 3,500-square-foot patio will extend to the public property limits on Adelaide at the corner of Bay.
Designed by Ian Rydberg of Solid Design & Build, the decor draws on past eras, mixing modern finishes like steel and aluminium with timeless textures like leather and brass. A honeycomb motif throughout aims to visually reinforce that this is a sweet spot - a hive of activity.
The menu from chef de cuisine Andrew Wilson ( Canoe , Colborne Lane , Origin North ) focuses on snacks and small plates created to complement the extensive offerings from the bar. Lightweights in need of something more substantial can opt for salads ($13-$15), tacos ($15) and sandwiches ($17-$18).
The snack selection offers a range of nibbles like sweet and spicy popcorn ($4) and peppery, buttermilk-powder-coated potato chips. I try the roasted cauliflower hummus ($8), a warm spread topped with pickled vegetables and served with flatbread.
The small plates include miniaturized interpretations of hearty comfort foods like the butter chicken balls ($14), which come swimming in a burnt orange curry sauce and topped with coriander crema and finely diced mango relish. Meanwhile, albacore crudo ($14) re-imagines the classic flavours of a salad nicoise, presented with painterly applications of black olive, anchovies and picked greens.
The bar menu is given the same weight as the food, if not more. There are dozens of classic signature cocktails (all priced at $14.50), divided under headings like "shaken specialties", "martinis" and "the kitchen sink". The wine list starts a $45 a bottle, and seems to appeal to high rollers, with selections exceeding $200. Limited draught options cover Coors Banquet alongside Caffrey's and Heineken, evenly priced for $7.
SpeakEasy 21 is open Monday to Friday from 11:30am to close; on Saturdays for dinner from 6pm.
Live music will be programmed for Tuesday and Thursday nights, while a DJ will keep Saturday night crowds in good spirits.
Photos by Jesse Milns