Sitting on the corner of Dundas and Dufferin, The Lockhart has non-pretentious décor, chatty staff and a dark atmosphere. The cocktail menu and the furnishings will easily draw you in even if you don’t catch on to the little Easter eggs throughout the bar. Inside, you’ll find exposed brick walls, wood and metal furnishings, an assortment of chairs, simple murals, a beautiful bull skull, a neon sign saying “all was well”, and a glass bar lined with pennies. If you get a chance, take a seat at the bar. You’ll be able to see all the action and talk to the staff about the menus.
Only after reading NOW Magazine’s article about The Lockhart, I realized why there were Harry Potter books behind the bar… it’s Harry Potter-themed. I’ve watched all the movies but I never read the books, so you could say I’m not a Harry Potter fanatic. Even the name of the bar didn’t spark a memory of the Defence against the Dark Arts professor. But now I understand.
I was able to check out the bar before their grand opening and Alice (@meetandeats) tagged along. As we sat at the bar, we scanned over the cocktail menu. There were a lot of delicious options but I was set on The Botanist. Not only did I love the name, but the description sounded all too perfect for me: Cucumber infused gin (Hendricks), agave, lime juice, tonic, cucumber garnish, and lime bitter. It was highly recommended by all the staff as this was their version of a gin and tonic. Alice ordered a Café Moscow – a dessert drink with a creamy, chocolaty finish. As our drinks were being crafted, we chatted with Pouria (co-owner). He talked about his infused spirits behind his creations and his passion for crafting natural cocktails with herbs and spices. Around this time, I noticed two Harry Potter books in between a set of whale book-ends on one of the shelves behind him (in the pic below). “Oh, a Harry Potter fan! Cool!” That went through my head and I left it at that.
The Botanist was refreshingly cold and it tasted like summer. The cocktail had a hint of gin with mostly cucumber and lime flavours. As someone who doesn’t drink often, this was perfect for me. Alice’s Café Moscow was delicious too. It’s a drink for all the sweet tooths out there – a fancier version of coffee and vodka and it tastes way better.
While we enjoyed our drinks, we also munched on little snacks too. We were spoiled with fresh salad rolls, blue cheese popcorn, and deep fried jalapeno mac and cheese sliders. The salad rolls came with a mysterious, tangy, and overpowering dipping sauce. The roll itself was fresh with a pop of sweetness from the mangoes. Add a little meat, pair it with fish sauce and I’d destroy them.
The popcorn was an interesting concept. Crumbled blue cheese tossed with popcorn and served in a little basket. Unfortunately, there were a combination of stale and fresh kernels in our batch. I gotta say, I’m not a huge fan of blue cheese but the little crumbs were pretty tolerable and I couldn’t stop shoveling it into my mouth. The popcorn topping changes daily, so you might get something different.
Lastly, the deep friend jalapeno mac and cheese sliders were brought to us. It was crunchy with a soft, creamy filling and seasoned beautifully with a kick from the jalapeno. The bread gave it an overall heavy feel. I think they would work great just as deep fried mac and cheese balls!
We stuck around for one more drink and Alice ordered The Shacklebolt – a rum based cocktail with house infused gosling spiced rum, house made ginger beer, ginger ale, lime juice, and ginger bitter. The cloudy ginger drink came in a mason jar with a lime garnish floating beneath the ice. You could taste the spices and could easily tell that it was a well-made, hand crafted drink. One last thing Pouria got us to do before we left was to take a shot of his tequila infused with jalapeno! Don’t worry, it wasn’t a full shot glass, it was just from an eye dropper. Alice went first and she didn’t seem to be phased by it. I was scared but after seeing her reaction, I was ready for it. A couple drops hit my tongue and I immediately swallowed it. Two seconds later, I could feel the burn. It traveled from the tongue, all the way down my throat and I was heating up. That shit was spicy as fuck. Out of the 6 people at the bar who took the shot, I acted like the biggest pussy 😀 I stuffed my mouth with the bread from the sliders and downed a glass of water. Eventually, the pain slowly turned into a warming sensation and went away. If you want to melt your insides, you can actually take a full shot for $5. The menu DOES warn you that it’s not for human consumption.
I now understand the symbols and images I saw during my visit. The the neon sign that said “all was well”, deer patronus mural, the words “Potion & Elixirs” above the spices, and the books. It all makes sense! Overall, I loved the casual atmosphere and I think the food needs a little work. I’ll be back to try the other items on the menu – baked brie, caprese salad, and poached prawns? Yum! I’ll also be back for the lovely cocktails!