Half of the excitement of Bar Fancy lies in just finding the place. In the words of chef Jonathan Poon – who also co-owns Parkdale’s Chantecler – “the destination is part of the charm.” Even if you’ve walked down Queen Street West hundreds of times, it’s easy to pass the plant-shrouded, gold-framed windows that face the lively street. Look for the entrance in the adjacent alleyway, beneath the pale green light of a neon tiger face.
Once inside, Bar Fancy isn’t really fancy at all. The lights are dim, the bricks are exposed, and there are wooden folding chairs hanging on the wall above the wooden banquettes. The best things in life, after all, are plain and simple.
Have a seat at the bar, but don’t go looking for a cocktail menu. Your friendly bartender will be happy to mix you up an old fashioned or a margarita – and it’ll be delicious – you just have to ask for what you want. Or have a glass of wine, or a beer from their curated list. Go for the popular Rosée d’Hibiscus from Brasserie Dieu du Ciel, and relish the wheat beer’s floral notes as you peruse the straightforward snack bar menu. With Poon’s partner, Jesse Fader (ex-Fabbrica chef and a contestant on Chopped Canada) at the helm, you’ll be served the food chefs want to eat after hours.
As pretty much anyone who’s been here will tell you, you’d be a fool to miss the chicken. Fader and Poon are quickly becoming known for their slightly spicy, ever-crispy, fried chicken. Six nights a week, each piece of fried chicken is $2 (beat that, Toonie Tuesday). Served as a platter, the chicken is served with house-made pickles, whipped butter, and Wonder Bread. Get into the spirit of things and slop together a big ol’ sandwich. Bite through the pillowy goodness of the Wonder Bread into the crispy-on-the-outside, moist-on-the-inside perfection of the zingy fried chicken.
Come linger at the bar and listen to the sultry sounds of electronic and indie music mix over the speakers. You’re bound to chat up some fellow patrons or some good old friends until you realize that it’s closing time. You have to hand it to them: Jonathan Poon and Jesse Fader have figured out the secret recipe for the perfect hang-out bar.