Bars Around Town: Peoples Eatery

Art work by Michelle Cheung for Novella Magazine

On Peoples Eatery’s menu, next to an introductory ‘Cheers’ in seven different languages, the ‘General Tso fu’ sits atop potato latkes and butter lamb croquettes, HDB (hwe dup bap), a Korean raw fish and salad rice bowl, next to BTC (bo tai chanh), a Vietnamese beef salad, and chopped liver delite side by side with steak and poutine. The drink menu continues the theme with cocktails with various cultural touches, a beer list that curiously includes a decidedly underwhelming Korean lager, and a good list of whiskeys, both American and Japanese. The diversity on the menu is meant to both reflect the cultural diversity of Toronto and to be a one-stop place for foods otherwise offered separately, often times many blocks apart. Though the concept itself is, if not unique, commendable — an extension of Toronto’s search for an identity —, not much else is particularly remarkable in this Spadina establishment.

Gin No. 3, made with Cocchi Rosa, Martini Dry, Regan’s orange, and Violette, is a stiff cocktail. It’s simple yet tasteful and the Cocchi Rosa gives it a nice pink hue. The Tokyo Sour — gin, yuzu, sugar, and egg whites — is served with a shiso leaf bathing in thick froth. Though refreshing at first, after a few minutes, the egg whites, from a carton of liquid egg whites, give off the distinct pungent odor and ruins the rest of the drink. The shiso leaf itself does little other than look pretty. The Monk’s Mule — Chartreuse, Fever Tree ginger beer, white port, lemon —, is served in a tin cup full of ice, and is a good thirst quencher.

There is nothing bad to say about Peoples Eatery’s general atmosphere. The dark green bar in the front and wooden panelling in the back toward the kitchen give the place a sense of luxury. The staff are friendly and courteous, prompt but not overbearing. Yet there is a sense that the niceties of the furniture and the staff are a veneer: the liquid egg whites, the cold center of the butter lamb croquette, the unevenly cut turbot of the turbot poke, and the dry dough stuck on the bottom of a plate. With many options around the Spadina and Dundas W. area that specializes, and simply many options around the downtown area in general, it seems that the only reason one would choose Peoples Eatery over them is for its concept.