Filling Glasses and Building Niches: The Vinyl Room and Georgestown Cafe and Bookshelf

Quick portraits on the newest bar and cafe in town ...

When a coffee or a cocktail is good but not enough; when you want to get out of your own house, your own head, your own phone; when you want to be around society without overtly socializing, there are two new places catering to you. 

The Vinyl Room (290 Duckworth Street) 

The Vinyl Room is the bar at the relocated and revamped Reluctant Chef (right across from its original location). It has a 1920s feel without a heavy hand declaring any themed nonsense.

The cocktails are interesting, diverse, and made with care; the beers are eclectic, and the wine list is a point of pride. Small plates are served at the bar so you won’t have to drink on an empty stomach, but rather on a stomach perhaps lined with paté and jam served with homemade granola and singed cauliflower. A snack that is too sweet, too smooth, too sexy; in other words, perfect in small doses – which is how it comes.

The menu changes every two weeks so you won’t get what you had the time before but, as the kitchen at The Reluctant Chef always seems to specialize in aromas, you can be sure of food and drink pairings being an immersive pleasure.

The soundtrack to your indulgence is, as the name implies, all vinyl. When it is slow you can flip through the record collection and pick what spins next. Perhaps the introverts of the vinyl persuasion will finally be lured out to collect in public. The whole corner at Duckworth and Cathedral feels different with this addition, a real… spot. A jostling eddy of food and drink and scene.

Georgestown Café and Bookshelf (73 Hayward Avenue) 

Straight up the hill from The Vinyl Room, behind the Basilica and just over the crest from downtown proper, the long anticipated (and hard won) Georgestown Cafe and Bookshelf has fulfilled its promise of hyper-local pedestrian destination.

All the neighbours you never knew you had are now breaking bread, and more importantly, tamales and empanadas together. These small packets of wonder and flavour come in vegetarian or meat and sell out before the cafe closes.

Georgestown Bakery products are also served (bread, bagels with toppings), as are half avocados, muffins, baked and raw treats, and soup. The coffee and teas are strong and served in vintage pyrex mugs.

The books are as enticing as the tamales and are there for everyone to read, borrow, and exchange. With a children’s book corner sized and stocked for your small dependents and everything for grown-ups from an Aubrey Beardsley Compendium to a world history by H.G Wells, you will find something for whatever mood you bring.

Long known as a great neighborhood for people-watching, take advantage of the window stools and let your eyes wander from the page inside to the human drama outside as the various Georgestown factions walk, talk, fight, skulk, loiter, and lecture past the picture windows.

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