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Bar Fancy Brings Unpretentious Cool to Queen West

By Andrew D’Cruz
Photography by Naomi Finlay

The name, of course, is a lark. Or perhaps a half joke. That’s because there’s only one thing that could legitimately be called “fancy” about West Queen West’s new low-key watering hole: Bar Fancy’s angular, gold-tinged facade has provoked months of rubber-necking from riders on the 501 streetcar. The sculptural brass rectangle spills onto the building across the alley and frames patrons inside like unwitting stars of some lost Fellini film. (That eye-catching flourish is courtesy of Ja Architecture Studio, with its office upstairs.)

Down the alley, under a wall-mounted blue and orange neon tiger head and through a hidden side door, Bar Fancy’s interior is decidedly down-to-earth. Pretty much everything is DIY, from the chairs to the welding to the millwork. The front window is filled with the sort of lush potted plants you might find at your local Vietnamese joint, and just behind in the tiny open kitchen a vintage 1962 electric Moffat oven takes pride of place.

That oven – along with a couple of deep fryers and a prominent meat slicer – is typically manned by Jesse Fader, an alum of Mark McEwan’s Fabbrica. The menu he has created with co-owner Jonathan Poon, the quietly innovative chef behind nearby Chantecler, is full of cleverly tweaked bar food staples: wings dusted with a lip-numbing Szechuan peppercorn seasoning ($9 for six); and impossibly juicy, already prize-winning fried chicken that’s served with lime, Wonder Bread, whipped butter and a pickle ($16). The braver of patrons should also give the “tiger cry” habanero sauce a try.

As carefully thought out as the food may be, what makes Bar Fancy work so well is what makes any great local hangout work: dim lights, killer tunes and a glass of something tasty. While bar staff will happily mix you a drink, you’re just as well off with a draft of, say, Beau’s Bog Water ($7). There’s no need to get fancy.

1070 Queen St W, 416 546 1416, Mon-Sat 5-2

Categories: Eat Here
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