Saturday, September 18, 2010

Flying High At The Avro

Last night was the launch party for Leslieville's newest watering hole and my own personal favourite bar in the world, The Avro. I might be a tiny bit biased, since it's owned and operated by one of my best friends, but I truly believe that The Avro, as a bar, offers Torontonians exactly everything they need, no matter what, all the time. I'm just saying. I don't think folks ought to be chancing that it isn't by patronizing any other bar in the GTA, with the possible exception of Bistro 422, which I love on its own merits.

I am just so goddamn proud of Rachel Conduit - the best friend/owner/operator in question - because there's some serious grit needed to open any kind of business. Lord knows I'm far too timid to try the same tactics. Whereas I have vague dreams of becoming some sort of "writer," maybe, in the future, my gal pal sat down, made a business plan and created a whole abstract experience. Colour me awed over here. That's impressive.

And the Avro is legitimately impressive on its own merits. Named for the Canadian aerospace powerhouse the Avro Arrow, on which Conduit's grandfather was an engineer, the cozy Queen Street East space offers an alternative to the pricey joints on the same stretch. It's not a sleek spot - some of the light fixtures are made from refurbished industrial refuse - but it's absolutely beautiful in a handmade, Canadian sort of way. Despite being a clothing store, like, six months ago, the Avro feels like an established place.

It's cozy. It's cheap without being cheap, because Conduit recognized that most of the bars in that 'hood ran to the expensive side of the spectrum. It's open late, because, with the notable and disgusting exception of Jilly's, the local peeler bar, most of the bars on that stretch close whenever the bartender's feet get tired, and that is early. Most importantly for a bar, it has an actual bar. I hate going to alleged "bars" like, oh, say, the Green Room in the Annex, and finding there's no bar there. Oh, sure, tables are fine, but I really do feel that any place purporting to be a boozehouse needs to have a place where bartender and patron meet. A long counter top for slinging drinks and gossiping about the locals is absolutely essential, and The Avro's was handmade and optimized for awesomeness.

The Avro keeps a variety of folks in mind: the young people who want an escape from the student-ghettoized Annex neighbourhood but aren't keen on shelling out seven bucks for a bottle of brew; the local folks who want a mellow night close to home; the customers who like to bar hop and take in the gamut of watering hole experiences; the people who want to support local under-30s in their bid for greatness; drinkers who want a well-designed experience to back up their booziness. And in each case, the bar is a success. Big mazel to The Avro and to Rachel. Fly high, Avro girl.

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