As Ben Johnson reported earlier this week, Bar Volo will close this fall. What a shame. Volo, more than any other place (except maybe the original Smokeless Joe) is where I learned to love great beer after first walking in ten years ago. It’s where I tried Péché Mortel for the first time. Bartenders in Amsterdam asked me about it.

Like Robin Leblanc said in her excellent “An Ode To Bar Volo“, I take comfort in knowing that they’ll re-open in some form or another. For all the great beer joints in this city, it wouldn’t feel right without Volo.

Photo by Peter Kudlacz, used under Creative Commons license

“Mmmm. Gueuzy.”

Well, that was a beer-y weekend. It actually started Thursday night when Nellie and I found ourselves near Volo and stopped in for some Great Lakes drinks (Chill Winston for me, Audrey Hopburn for her) before some dinner at Mercatto. At that point we’d momentarily switched to wine, and decided to watch Red Obsession (imdb | rotten tomatoes) while we drank a bottle of the Tawse wine club T-Blend Red.

My Friday afternoon was spent on a boat cruising around Toronto harbour for a work event, during which I consumed quite a few bottles of Steam Whistle. We were dropped off a few minutes away from the Amsterdam Brewhouse, so a few of us secured a table until Nellie and our friends MLK arrived. The food was pretty decent and I kept to the lighter beers (until the one-off Boxer (10 Count) farmhouse ale with Brett) so I could remain more or less coherent. After dinner we retired back to ours where we shared a (spectacular) bottle of Five Rows Sauvignon Blanc.

We took it easy on Saturday, just lying about and running a few errands, before meeting our friends JP + Sue at Triple A for some barbecue. We ate our ribs and steak and brisket and sausage and drank Camerons California Sunshine APA (mostly), then made a quick stop at our place to share a bottle of St. Louis Gueuze Fond Tradition on our balcony before heading to C’est What for a few more. I’m glad I picked up a bottle of that gueuze before the LCBO ran dry.

And now…I need a nap.



Photo by Peter Kudlacz, used under Creative Commons license



On Friday night all we wanted to do was have a nice, simple dinner and an early night, since we’d spent the previous night on the Volo patio with our favourite beermistress. And we were this close.

We wound up at Starfish, a (mainly) seafood place just down the street from us. Somehow we’d just never tried it, but it was top of mind since meeting Suresh Doss (aka @spotlightcity, aka the most socially active man alive) the day before and he expressed amazement that we’d never been. Anyway, we popped in at 7, sans reservation, and were told we’d have to be out by 9…fine by us. The night was shaping up to be early, and at least somewhat cost-controlled.

Now, I should point out that I don’t really like fish. Or most seafood. But I have found that I don’t mind it if it’s done properly, so I ordered the calamari salad and the bass. The salad was meh and the bass was okay, but Nellie’s lobster bisque was excellent and she claimed her mussels were good as well, so she definitely enjoyed her food more than I. The name of our wine escapes me completely, but it paired nicely with the food. Dessert was the best part of the meal, probably for both of us: shared sticky toffee pudding. We killed it dead in under a minute, I think.

At this point it was just a couple of minutes to 9 and we had about half a glass of wine left, so we offered to move to the bar. We decided to have just one more, but before we knew it we were chatting with the bartender and sampling multiple bottles of Soave & Valpolicella  and chatting with the chefs and sampling these incredibly hot smoked peppers. It was kind of odd. But fun. And we’ll definitely be going back.

A confederacy of dunces

Had dinner and a quick drink with CBGB last night at Volo. I needed to unwind after a long week at work (which isn’t done yet…see below) and a quiet, snowy evening with some friends and tasty beer was a proper way to do it.


Before I sacrifice what’s left of this weekend on the altar of work and the MBA, I thought I’d throw up a couple of thoughts. It may be the last you hear from me for a few days.

  • This just in: Toronto city councilor Rob Ford is a screaming idiot. Not just for this latest nonsense, which shows that his approach to debate is roughly that of a six year old. The man is in the hall of fame for terrible elected officials. It’s embarrassing to live in a city where people continually vote for him.
  • Holy crap…my Canadiens are leading their division! Meanwhile, here in the land of altered reality, people are still talking about the Leafs making the playoffs.
  • I find this map of religious majorities in America very interesting. Anyone know of a Canadian version? [via Richard Florida]
  • I’d used Bloomex a few times for flower delivery and thought they were ok, but they messed up my most recent order — and the customer service followup — something fierce. Luckily Nellie’s an understanding wife who doesn’t demand flowers on/near Valentine’s Day, and so she just laughed it off. I won’t bother going through all the details; I’ll just leave it at this: do not, under any circumstances, use Bloomex. The service they gave me was truly one of the worst customer experiences of my life, and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It didn’t cause me harm or anguish or anything…it was just staggeringly, monumentally incompetent. Avoid them at all costs. Warn your friends.


Guns scare me. Texas has adopted the “castle doctrine,” which means you’re now justified in shooting someone if you feel threatened in your home; there’s no longer much expectation that you take reasonable measures to avoid the threat. You can just shoot it. Some have gone vigilante and extended this to their neighbourhood, like this guy who shot two men in the back because they robbed the house next door, despite the imminent arrival of police and the pleas of a 911 dispatcher.

Militarism scares me. When the Chief of Defence Staff says democratic debate on Canada’s involvement in Afghanistan is emboldening the terrorists to attack our troops, it reeks of the same low scare tactics we’ve heard from the United States in recent years. As POGGE put it when this story came out last week, “I think we’ve just been told to shut up and salute.”

American military integration scares me. While a recent deal struck between Canada and the US is intended to let troops from either country cross the border in case of a civil emergency, the potential ramifications of misuse are staggering. There was also no debate on the topic — the deal was signed a week before the story broke — which strikes me as unusual and troubling. This could be a very big help in an actual emergency, or a very ugly tool used for political/military purposes.

[tags]bar volo, rob ford, montreal canadiens, toronto maple leafs, bloomex, castle doctrine, joe horn, rick hillier, american military integration[/tags]

Don't judge me. It felt like hand-stitched butter.

I needed to ease out of the work week and into the long weekend in tasty fashion last night, so we had some dinner and a couple of drinks at Volo with CBGB. A little veggie pasta, a Black Kat stout and a Mill Race and the unwinding was underway. We couldn’t muster much more energy than that, though, and with a busy weekend ahead of us we decided we’d better relax and catch up a TV backlog. And so we did.

This morning we got up and had breakfast at Eggstasy. Poor Nellie, she just can’t seem to get servers to understand the following:

The Toronto definition of eggs “over hard” does not equal the consistency to which she wants her eggs cooked, which is best described as “shoe leather.”

She asked for “fried, over really hard, nothing runny, no liquid whatsoever, completely cooked all the way through” and the server wrote down “over hard.” Of course, they came back all runny inside; she sent them back and when they returned they were still too runny. Now, granted, she’s very fussy about her eggs, but given the painstaking and blunt description she applies each and every time, I’d expect at least one cook in 10 to get it right. Sadly, it never, ever works. Anyway.

Our purpose today was shopping, so after a quick stop to look at some Herman Miller chairs (I want!) we went to Harry Rosen. I’ll spare you the gory details, but suffice it to say when I left 90 minutes later picking up my credit card required oven mitts. It’s official…I have a weakness for two things: chocolate and nice clothes. I’m kind of worried; now that I’ve tried on a Canali suit I can’t go back. From this day on it’s a descent into Brioni territory, and that way lies madness. Anyway, it’s all stuff I needed (or at least wanted a lot) and I’m considering it an advance on my bonus. I hope.

We got home and ran a few more errands (finally getting a frame for the art we bought from a Parisien wine bar, picking up some wine & snacks, etc.) in preparation for tomorrow’s work. We figure it’s time to finish painting the joint, now that all the repairs are complete (hurrah!), and we’ve enlisted GB’s expertise to get us over the goal line. Wish us luck.

[tags]bar volo, eggstasy, herman miller, harry rosen, canali, brioni[/tags]