3 lounges, 3 guys, 3.5 hours, 1 winner

Posted on September 21, 2011 by Mahnaaz Dattu

If you exude attitude like Prada, carry confidence like Coach and dress to kill like Jean Paul Gaultier, you can pull off lounge hopping in Toronto. Of course it helps if you’re a girl, but guys, you can do this too and there’s nothing wrong with making it a solo mission. Decked out in a dark blue halter dress, fishnet stockings and three-and-a-half inch heels, I cabbed my way to King Street W. My mission: To visit three lounges and judge each for ambience, drinks and hottest party-goers on a Thursday night. But One woman’s perspective is not enough, so I picked three guys to weigh in with their opinions. This is he said/she said: the lounge experience.


He says…..ambience: It took a while to find a single he, but eventually, I met the gorgeous 35 year-old Abbis. “It’s cool and casual, not too pretentious. There’s a good mix of people.”

She says…..ambience: This place is NYC sex. Subtle flashes of strobe red lights from above and high ceilings with crystal chandeliers illuminate the appropriately dark room. Red oak tables run the length of the resto-lounge for those that crave an intimate, personal experience. Such experiences range from friends or couples having dinner to high rolling middle aged men showing female escorts a good time. The bar lends itself to a casual gathering with friends, or in one case, back-to-back dates.  One guy, two dates, just minutes apart. The music: Faithful. DJ Eric Ling is loyal to clientele, dropping one cool house or lounge track after another.

He says…..drinks: Abbis’ liquid of choice is vodka-water. When I ask him how it is, he replies with straightforward poignancy: “You can’t f*** it up.  It’s just vodka and water.”

She says…..drinks: I ask for something fruity and am presented with a vodka-blood orange. It’s a perfect marriage of Ruskie water and orange juice, without the dulling effect of filled-to-the-top ice cubes. Don’t you just hate it when bartenders do that?  It’s the best cocktail I’ve ever had in the city.

He says…..women: Being a very goodlooking chap, I figure Abbis has discerning taste in women. I ask him to rate the women and he offers an 8/10. “The girls are hot but they’re engaged or married.”

She says…..men: There are definitely cute-to-handsome’ish guys here, but they are either in a male-female group or on a date. But I have my fair share of a look-around anyway, and overall, I’d say 7/10 with some 8-outta-10’s and one 9’er.

Bonuses: 1) DJ Eric Ling is attentive, delivering tracks to suit an energized or chillaxed mood. And he’s totally approachable. He plays a trance tune when he learns of my preferred music genre 2) Friendly and prompt service from observant waitors and bartenders. One of the bartenders has acted in theatrical productions such as Hairspray and Jesus Christ Superstar. Yes, he’s super cute. Super available? I dunno. 3) An owner, whom, if you stay long enough will offer – and do – vodka shots with you, on the house 4) I ask about coat check and have my coat personally put away and delivered by the bartenders. Without my asking, a bartender offers to take snaps of myself enjoying a vodka-blood orange 5) I meet a nice group of people that invite me to the next lounge they are visiting, but I have to stick to my hop’n plan.

Verdict: Blowfish is the resto-lounge to hit if you’re on a date or want to share a sushi meal or drinks with friends. It’s a great pre-drink spot with a well-dressed and goodlooking crowd. If you want to meet someone or dance like it’s the night of the apocalypse, go somewhere else.

Age range: Borderline 30+


He says…..ambience: 34 year-old Kevin from Chicago tells me that there’s a larger guy-to-girl ratio. But he appreciates the customer service: “The bartenders are polite and make you feel welcomed. You don’t feel rushed.”

She says…..ambience: Post-modern chic meets industrial. Lounge room decor consists of white and brown brick walls, plants in glass vases, framed nature-themed photographs, exposed steel tubing and funky light fixtures. Gather ’round with friends in a half-circle booth or prop-up on stools at a next generation, 3.0-type picnic table.  If you want to meet and greet though, get up. The crowd’s at the bar.

He says…..drinks: Kevin says he likes his beer “not too thick, not too light.” He asked for a Stella but it wasn’t on tap. On the suggestion of a bartender, he opted for a Sapporro, which he did not enjoy.  His next round of suds went done well though; Kevin is a happy Krombacher man.

She says…..drinks: I loved my vodka orange at Blowfish so much, I ask for it again. To my surprise, the bartender is not familiar with the cocktail. I settle for cranberry-vodka, which offers strong and pleasant lime flavour notes on the last couple of sips. Otherwise, it needs just 1/4 shot more of vodka.

He says…..women: Comparing the women of his home state to Toronto, in a club or lounge setting, Kevin says: “In Chicago, girls are average or better than OK.  Here, they’re either hot or disgusting.  It swings one way to the extreme. I think you’re the hottest woman here.” I ask Kevin for an overall female rating: “6 outta 10 at best.”

She says…..men: I cast glances at a couple of good lookers.  The one that holds my gaze the longest is playing prelude-to-sex-flirtation with another woman. I gotta agree with Kevin, 6/10.

Verdict: Brassaii is an ideal resto-lounge to drink with friends or pick up. You can certainly dance to the top 40-house mixes by DJ Richard Silas, whom is just as much cute as skilled. The overwhelming majority, though, were alcohol awash. There were a good number of corporate-types here, just count the number of business blazers when you go. You’ll also find a fair share of late twenty-somethings. Ladies, you can dress-up, but I felt slightly over done in my figure hugging halter dress. Fitted black pants and a solid, bold coloured top will earn you stand-out-knock-out-take-him-home? status. The only downers: Aside from lack of beverage knowledge, I was told the night was not busy enough to have my coat checked. Serious thumbs down. A word to the customer service wise: Please take notes from Blowfish.

Bonuses: If java is your drink of choice, the bartenders can make you a cappuccino, latte, espresso or coffee.  Just ask. I found face moisturizer and Pro-Namel toothpaste on the revolutionary-like picnic table. Advertising or grab-and-go sleepover items?

Age range 25+


He says…..ambience: I see 28 year-old Nilosh in the viewer of my camera, smiling and waving hello.  He walks over and sits next to me. “Music is always number one.” Quoting his DJ friend, Nilosh says, “where the cats will go, the dogs will follow.” “The music is the best in the city. If you love old school hip-hop and 90’s, then you will have a good time.” And on customer service: “Very good.”

She says…..ambience: It has the feel of a NYC underground warehouse party with abstract style and timeless energy. Wall-to-wall-all-’round, black walls meet white walls, meet brown brick walls. One of the black walls holds a blurry, newsprint-like drawing of a girl. Another white wall is populated with stencil, cut-out profile drawings of a man.  Still, the mood is stylish, industrial black with exposed tubing on the ceilings and silver light fixtures overhead. And the DJ will take you back in time with hip-hop tracks that make for easy listening, singing and dancing. From Kriss-Kross’ Jump! to House of Pain’s Jump Around, it all makes good, old school sense.

He says…..drinks: Nilosh loves his beer because it’s straightforward and simple: “When a woman [bartender] opens a beer, it’s a beer.”

She says…..drinks: I try my luck again for a vodka-blood orange but am told there is no blood orange. At least the bartender knows what I’m talking about. She suggests a cranberry-orange-vodka mix as a fair compromise.  A good cocktail that would’ve been better with just 1/4 shot more of vodka.

He says…..women: Comparing women to small-town Ontario where he first lived, Nilosh says, “Toronto women are too hot for everyone. They love attention and it’s about how much money you make.” He admits though, that the guy’s gotta do the work, “A male always has to go for the women.” No numeric rating.

She says…..men: There’s a very small number – 1 or 2? – of what I consider cute or goodlooking guys here. 5/10.

Verdict: I don’t know for certain what the “F” in F-Stop stands for. If it’s what I think it is, the place is well-named. F-Stop is spilling with people that are dancing together for the first time, last time, throughout the night, on the floor and Coyote Ugly-like on the table or sofa. Think underground hip-hop house party for grown-ups. The energy at F-Stop is crazy, yet somehow contained, with a good number that choose to sit back and chill. Whether they’re on their feet or sitting down, people here have to work the next day, but don’t give a f***. This is the place to meet a guy, make-out with a guy or, at the very least, leave with a guy’s number.  And when I walk out half past two, I cross paths with party-goers just making their way in. The night, it seems, is starting all over again.

Bonuses: You can totally let loose and dance ’till you wanna go home – or share a bed – at 3, 4 (or more?) in the AM. Friendly Photographer Lu Chau will capture your evening on camera if you wish to remember it.

Age range: 22+

Lounge Winner: Although each lounge offered a different and enjoyable experience, Blowfish came out on top. From the perfectly-mixed cocktail to stellar customer service, eclectic music and personal environment, Blowfish delivered above and beyond.

Owner of Blowfish















1 Response

These are the current comments for "3 lounges, 3 guys, 3.5 hours, 1 winner"

Thanks! Blowfish looks great, but you can’t dance. :( I’d also recommend Club {v} and Century Room for dancing, they’re nice lounges with more of a club feel… like F Stop. F Stop just opened up recently… good to see reviews =)

Also, did you tell the owner you were writing a review? Maybe that’s why they were extra nice :) or because you’re cute :)

Congrats on an awesome blog post though! Keep them coming :)

10/12/11 @ 11:15 pm

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