Salty Pickle

In the beginning, there were four girls and a new Toronto It spot every Wednesday. It was called "Girls Night Out." And it was good. Over time, GNO grew to five and sometimes six or seven girls. One day, they all decided they had valuable knowledge to impart -- knowledge of this city's watering holes. And so, Salty Pickle was born. And it was good.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Shoeless Joe's

401 King St. W
Our evening here serves as a good reminder that sometimes it isn't about the bar, it's about the people you're sharing the bar tab with. With lesser companions, Shoeless Joe's would be Just Another Sports Bar -- too many TV screens, functional chicken wings and pub grub, colourful interior with requisite parlour games (i.e. Golden Tee and a pool table), service that was just a bit too eager to be smooth. But when you're rocking the Sub-Zero beer (which, to the chagrin of one member of our party, is not a new and exciting brand of suds, but rather a repackaging of plain old Molson Canadian, served extra cold), talking tunes and tiaras with friends new and old, well, Shoeless Joe's is just plain good times.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Economy Shoe Shop Cafe & Bar

1663 Argyle Street, Halifax N.S.
That's right, the Salty Pickles have taken a trip to the right coast in search of social lubricant. We find ourselves at the most hailed of Halifax institutions: the Shoe Shop. And much to our chagrin the service smells like monkey ass… or shoe polish … or something. The ambiance is nice: All those tiny white lights and artistic conversation pieces on the walls, but what good is atmosphere if you can't get a damned drink? It did seem like the wait staff was over taxed, but it was the weekend in a college town, you might expect it to be on the busy side. On a positive note, when we got the waiter's attention and ordered the nachos we got the biggest, gooiest, cheesiest plate of nachos any of us has ever witnessed. And if you want to win the heart of a Salty Pickle the shortest route to satisfaction is cheese. Mmmmmm, cheese.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


As you may have guessed, the Pickles are on a bit of a summer hiatus. Apologies if you've taken to checking this site regularly and have come up empty. One of us is travelling the world at the moment, one of us got promoted at work, and the rest of us are up to our eyeballs in work, fun and other summer stuff which may or may not involve martinis.

Once we get our collective acts together, we'll be back. I think.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Cadillac Lounge

1296 Queen St. W

It isn’t often that the pickles decide to road-trip, but this week the Cadillac Lounge — waaay out in the city’s West end — became our watering hole of choice. Some might say it was because we wanted to pose as lounge lizards (hey, I love leopard-print curtains and Johnny Cash cover tunes …) but really, we heard they had a good patio. By the time we arrived however, the patio was pretty full, and despite a few overly friendly offers to join tables full of overly friendly men, we opted for pints and pub grub in the less-crowded front room. Nothing personal, but Tuesdays are all about GNO – no boys allowed. It’s a rule. The service was decent (well, honest at least – our waitress warned us that they were short-staffed in the kitchen and out of french fries), and the brew options were both plentiful and tasty. Their promise of "live music every night" also held true – though I guess that depends whether a guy pounding a cardboard box like a drum can be considered music. It was open-mike night, which meant indie troubadours (and those who may or may not be able to afford a "real" drum kit) got their turn on stage to assault our aural senses with everything from mediocre pop tunes to Dave Matthews rip-offs. Give ’er.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Rose and Crown

2335 Yonge St.
When the Pickles' numbers dwindle, it's usually a safe bet for the die-hards to hit a nice, quiet pub, where a pint of good ale and some snacks are guaranteed to get the conversation flowing.

While the Rose and Crown qualifies in the nice category, quiet it was not on the evening in question. The Pickles are not old fogies by any stretch of the imagination -- we fancy ourselves to be hip, sophisticated urbanites -- but there's only so much yelling from the next table a girl can stand before she starts to get testy.

That said, the beer was frothy, the G and T sufficiently strong, the wings spicy and the French Onion soup lovely. The service was quite servicable. As pubs go, the Rose and Crown is one every self-respecting mid-towner should include in their repertoire (on a separate trip, I tested out a friend's theory that it had the best pad thai in town, and I've got to say, it was quite good). While most would say "the more the merrier" when it comes to Girls' Night Out, in our case, there was good fun in small numbers.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Sarah's Cafe & Bar

1426 Danforth Avenue

This is a comfy-cozy spot with a twist of bohemianishness. The waitress was warm and upbeat (and psychic, apparently, since she pegged us for a pitcher of raspberry brew before we had even ordered). The burger, calamari and special appetizer of artichoke and blue cheese dip were all met with sighs of delight. And, in my humble opinion, nothing caps off an evening better than a slice of pie. The warmed up strawberry-rhubarb was divine.
Tracey enjoyed her minty kiss coffee (although I don't think it's ordered frequently since the waitress had a hell of a time finding the mint liqueur). Personally, I have Errol Flynn to thank: Not only an accomplished career in motion pictures, but for lending his name to a satisfying cocktail of cognac and brandy.
Nobody bothered us at this out of the way night spot. Not even the guys playing chess at the table behind us. All the stars were aligned for conversation to flow like it should when a bunch of childless chicks go out.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Longest Yard

535 Mount Pleasant Road

In my experience it is generally unwise to order a dirty gin martini at neighbourhood bars. This time though, the waiter assured me he could mix a mean martini "just give me a chance." Against my better judgment, and because I was too tired to think of another drink, I succumbed. And I'm glad I did. It was really a yummy drink.
Although it took the longest time for us to make our way to The Longest Yard, we had a nice time at our local watering hole. There is no pretension in this place, just warm smiles from the bar staff. And I have a feeling it wouldn't take too many more visits before we'd be remembered by name.

Friday, March 25, 2005

The Charlotte Room

19 Charlotte St.

It was a newspaper farewell/schmoozarama that got us downtown to The Charlotte Room, which turned out to be a jolly fine place to hang out on a Wednesday, boys and all. Yep, that's right, boys. Again! Pickles, we have some reclaiming to do.

The Charlotte itself is huge, with lots and lots of pool tables. According to the joint's Web site, it was voted one of the top ten best new billiards rooms in 1998 by Billiards Digest. Wow, Billiards Digest! Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to show off our skill with the balls, so busy were we fending off old newspaper men.

Still, the atmosphere was quite cozy, given the place's size, and the bartender was top notch. I can't remember his name, but he certainly remembered ours. We got personalized service for most of the night. Boooo for not having Boddingtons on tap any more though. It was a most upsetting turn of events. But the dude did make a mean chocolate martini. I'm not sure it was the best in the city (they all say that), but it was pretty damn good. The menu was sizeable and we tucked into yummy quesadillas and dips, and I think Laura had pie.

Some of us left early, others schmoozed into the wee hours and one probably can't remember anything at all (good thing it's not her turn to blog). Overall, I would say The Charlotte Room was really, um, good. Good Charlotte, get it? Oh my.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Esplanade Bier Markt

58 The Esplanade

Most of us Pickles agreed that the Bier Markt on a Saturday night is the stinkiest kind of fromage. Boys with baseball caps and BO, girls looking their skankiest; not really a good scene for six of Toronto's hippest chicks.

But, throw us in there on a Wednesday, mix in a few professional designer-type people, beer selected from the massively huge menu, maybe a martini or two, poutine with capers, and three of the most artful pieces of cheesecake ever seen, add some ice and stir and you have the makings of a classic girls night.

Generally, Pickles don't do boys on girls night -- it's something of a rule. But far be it for us to pass up a primo networking/schmoozing opportunity. We're not above mixing business with pleasure.

The room is appropriately Euro, right down to the long tables and benches ripped straight out of a German beer garden, no doubt. Most go to the Markt (can anyone tell me what happened to the "E?") for the moules, but our Tracey tucked right into Montreal's greatest creation (and I'm including the Canadiens in that equation), poutine. With capers. Which were apparently quite lovely.

The beer menu is quite long (like, hundreds of beers in every permutation), but let me just save you the trouble. Apricot Wheat Beer. Yummy. And delicious with the three towers o' cheesecake we ordered, which have a sweet, tender surprised tucked right into the middle and came served with raspberry coulis and a blueberry garnish. Oh my!

The evening went late, but the company was good, so we hardly even noticed. As for the Markt, on this particular Wednesday, it gets a hearty thumbs up.

Monday, January 31, 2005

Banzai Sushi - 134 Peter St.

With it’s sleek, futurist décor and high-tech accoutrements such as touch-screen computer terminals at the dining tables where you can see the menu and even chat to other patrons, Banzai Sushi seems destined to be a downtown hotspot. It’s in the heart of club district, but unlike other places in the vacinity that suffer an identity crisis by trying to cater to both the club crowd and upscale diners (Ultra Supper Club, for instance), this place is all about the dining experience.

Sushi chef Shinichiro Aoyama delivers an inspired menu that fuses the latest in Japanese cuisine with trendy courses such as tapas — there’s even a nod to pub grub with wasabi wings. His signature maple tamari tuna is melt-in-your-mouth delicious, as are his Maki and sushi rolls. The only problem the pickle girls had here was narrowing our options. For dessert, check out the banana tempura or green tea and ginger ice cream.

Adding to the atmosphere, the walls are covered in Japanese graffiti and there’s a large flat-screen TV suspended in the centre of the dining room showing anime. Taking away from the atmosphere during our particular visit, were the belly-baring Barbie types who crashed our good Karma with their loud-mouthed boyfriends. Eww! Thankfully, our waitress took notice of our irritation and offered us a bottle of sake on the house! I think she wanted to be a pickle, too.