I was recently invited to spend an evening at Bottleneck, the speakeasy-inspired bar and restaurant that was once a storage space for the Commodore. Tucked directly underneath the legendary venue, the inconspicuous spot recently changed up its menu to feature more inspired dishes that are perfect for a pre-show meal or post-show night cap.
The space is dimly lit and intimate, yet ample enough to fill a bumpin’ party, which is often what happens when the bands who’ve played upstairs are all done on stage. (Snoop Doggs’ entourage and Metallica have hosted parties there.) I’d describe the décor as a mix between a New York loft and a Damien Hirst painting – raw brick, high ceiling, exposed piping, drop-down bulbs and lots of polka dots.
The menu is an eclectic mix of standard bar/restaurant favourites but with an international twist. Italian, Chinese, Spanish and Mexican – it’s all covered right there on the menu. Their wine menu is on the same kick, with an impressive collection of six red and six white from the world over. I had the Villa Maria private bin, a floral and crisp New Zealand Sauvignon that was a refreshing companion to my meal. They also have a wide selection of domestic and imported beer and a signature drinks list, which features tangy cocktails like the English Garden (gin, St. Germain, Sauvignon Blanc, cucumber, lemon) and the Velvet Underground (Jameson, Chambord, lime).
During my visit, I got to try a number of their dishes, including but not limited to the crispy chick peas, Chinese Hamburger, wedge salad.
The Chinese Hamburger is a steamed bun filled with confit belly (which, in my opinion is a better version of bacon), sriracha aioli (that ubiquitous red hot sauce with the rooster on the bottle, mixed with mayo) and Asian slaw. The result is a smoky, salty mini-meal bookended by a spongy bun. The chick peas, meanwhile, taste more like crumbly nuggets of salty gold than anything that might be healthy for you. And if you like unconventional, be sure to try the wedge salad – while the presentation might surprise you, iceberg lettuce has never tasted so good. It’s literally a quarter wedge of a head of iceberg lettuce, drizzled with stilton buttermilk dressing and sprinkled with scrumptious candied walnuts. It comes with a steak knife, so you can chop up the crisp lettuce in a few smooth cuts. It’s equally fun to eat as it is delicious.
Sidenote: Have you ever had such good service at a restaurant that you’ve wanted to befriend your waiters and bar staff? That’s what it’s like at Bottleneck. It feels like a gang of friends who all just happen to work at the same place. On that note, if you’re looking to have a really good time and make some new buds, they’ll be having a New Years Eve party. See details below.
Bottleneck is open Tuesday to Saturday from 4pm to 2am.
870 Granville Street,