“Ask a Bartender” is an advice column in which we pose problems to the city’s best listeners: bartenders! This week, wise words from Aja Sax of The Miller Tavern.
My long-term relationship ended and I’m wading back into the dating scene. What’s a good idea for a first date in Toronto?
First thing, make sure you’re not going anywhere that you went regularly with your ex. You don’t want those memories. Often in this city, people tend to stick to their own neighbourhoods, but it’s good to get out of your comfort zone. It’s also good not to run into people you know: That’s awkward on a first date. So if you live on Queen West, maybe try somewhere further east, or go to Roncy.
In terms of actual places, one of my favourite date spots in the city is 416 Snack Bar. You can get a nice glass of wine and have beautiful food, but it’s so busy that you won’t notice any awkward silences on the date. It’s also a tight space, so you’ll be closer in proximity, which creates a sense of intimacy that you wouldn’t necessarily get at a restaurant where you’re sitting across a five-foot table from each other.
What I like to do—and I even do this with my boyfriend now—is go on little tours: one place for a cocktail, one place for a snack, one place for another drink. Making reservations at a restaurant is getting harder and harder, since more and more places don’t take them, and it’s a lot of pressure for both parties. Somewhere quick and casual is great for a first date, and then if it’s going really well, it’s easy to shift gears. Cocktail Bar is another incredible place to start off—it’s quiet and mellow, although beware those three-ounce drinks. But then you’re close to Queen, you can walk up and down Ossington or over to Harbord, so there are a ton of options. I feel like more and more that’s how I’m watching my friends date, and it’s an opportunity to enjoy the most of what the city has to offer, which is so much right now.
Bonus round! Team Dijon Mustard or Team French’s Classic Yellow?
Dijon over Yellow any day. Kozlik’s, preferably. But I am a sucker for Lick’s Guk sauce. It’s the best thing ever, and you can get it at grocery stores. I mean, it’s flavoured mayo—nothing groundbreaking. But I put that Guk on everything.
Have a problem? Let us ask a bartender for you. Email your question to email@example.com, with the subject line “Ask a Bartender.”