TORONTO — To say why one bar is your favorite is like explaining why you love your wife. Once you get past appearance and public personality, it's entirely a matter of spirit and soul.
However, in my case, the question of the bar is made a bit easier by residing in a city where drinking in public is still morally suspect and therefore too often a joyless act. There really isn't much competition.
So when I have the urge for a real beer, the comfort of an honest, straight-malt Scotch or the solid warmth that only a well-mixed martini can bring, I can be found in a building situated between a car wash and a parking lot on a block of Toronto where warehouses define the neighborhood.
The place, Joe Allen, is a unique establishment with a definite character and special mood.
Because of restrictive laws here, there are no bars as such. Nearly all must be restaurants as well.
Joe Allen has a restaurant, and a very good one, but the bar and what goes on there makes it a special place. And what goes on is civilized drinking and talking, both the result of the talents of owner-manager John Maxwell, a New Yorker who knows good booze, good music and good conversation.