Each week in The Grid, we set up single readers of The Grid and send them on blind dates around Toronto. Here’s what Courtney and Andy had to say about their date at Duke’s Refresher + Bar.
Courtney is a 29-year-old director at a marketing agency who lives in the Annex. She describes her style as “Parisian-infused, but practical. I mostly wear French brands like Sandro, Maje, Zadig & Voltaire, and The Kooples, but with some Canadian staples thrown in.” Courtney is “genuine, independent, and easygoing. I trust my intuition and I’m not afraid to take risks.” She says, “I avoid conflict like the plague” and that she is “the queen of awkward small talk.” Courtney enjoys horseback riding, “brunching with friends,” and “planning future dream-holidays.” Guy-wise, Courtney likes “tall, manly types. Edgy but approachable.”
Andy is a 34-year-old human-resources consultant who lives at Yonge and Eglinton. His style is “Casual: hoodies, long-sleeve shirts with a short-sleeve shirt on top, Chuck Taylors… but I love to dress up, if a situation calls for it.” Andy says he is “honest, dependable and genuine” but also “tough on myself” and “impatient.” He likes working out, running, going to see live music, and playing guitar. Andy says, “I’m travelling around Canada by myself in my spare time. So many people travel, [but] not enough experience our great [country].” Andy wants to date someone who is “up for anything as it happens.” Andy also appeared in a previous edition of The Hook-Up.
Courtney on Andy
“I walked past the restaurant at least twice; when I finally arrived, Andy was standing at the door, and we introduced ourselves. Right away, he pulled me in for a big, warm hug, which made me think, ‘OK, nice guy.’ It’s amazing how much body language can convey.
“My first impression was: muscles! Andy is really buff, and has a full sleeve of tattoos on one arm. It suits him. I was attracted to his friendly smile. I immediately regretted wearing heels—we’re probably around the same height, so with a few extra inches I was towering over him—but I tried to channel some Amazon-woman confidence and not dwell on it.
“I hadn’t been especially nervous before the date, but when we first sat down, I felt a flood of panic and couldn’t concentrate. I barely registered anything Andy was saying, and struggled to make small talk as we browsed the menu. The situation was not improved when a bunch of guys celebrating a stag party sat down beside us, so Andy graciously suggested that we relocate to another table downstairs.
“Once we got settled in our new seats, the conversation started flowing more smoothly. The menu had a long list of local craft beers, and Andy recommended one that he thought I might like. He chose well! He ordered fish and chips, and I ordered fish tacos, which was a delicious but perilous choice: I tried to eat them gracefully, but ended up showering the table with cilantro and shredded onion.
“Andy fit right in with the restaurant’s rock ‘n’ roll theme but, as we talked, I realized that despite his tough-guy look, he also has a softer side. He told me about his background, his job, his two nephews, and his ‘five-year plan’ to find someone to settle down with. We seemed to have similar values, and I liked that he was down-to-earth.
“We also discussed his long list of adventurous hobbies: sky-diving, bungee-jumping, white-water rafting, ice-fishing, and road-tripping. He said that it was important to him to meet someone with common interests, and in that respect, I don’t think I fit the bill. I love being outdoors, but am a city girl at heart, and will absolutely never jump out of an airplane. That said, we do share a love of travel, and we talked a lot about some of our favourite cities to visit, Chicago and London in particular.
“When he asked if any of my friends would be checking up on me to see how our date was going, I told him that my two roommates would be eagerly awaiting an update. He suggested that I send them a text, and I suggested that he write them one instead. He sent a hilarious message—‘Hey it’s Andy from The Grid. Courtney and I are booking a flight to Boston tonight!’—which won him some major points. He didn’t miss a beat, and used the text-exchange as a cue to ask for my number: smooth!
“Once the cellphones were out, we started talking about apps like Tinder. He said he had never used it, so I proceeded to give him a crash course in mobile dating. Then he showed me some pictures of a Rottweiler puppy that he’ll be adopting in a few months, which I gushed over for at least 15 minutes. I think he realized he should have played the dog card sooner: definitely a shortcut to my heart.
“Andy was very excited about the abundance of sports games that were playing on the TV screens at the bar: hockey! Basketball! Baseball! I’m sports-illiterate, so he gave me a crash course in LeBron James.
“After dinner, we each ordered another drink and continued chatting. Andy said he found it hard to meet girls in Toronto because he finds them unapproachable. I told him he should just go for it. I guess he took my advice, because he went in for a kiss! I was impressed with his aplomb, but quite taken aback. The kiss was the opposite of intimate: we were seated side-by-side, and were front-and-centre, in prime dining real-estate in the middle of the restaurant, and I couldn’t help but imagine that everyone around us was gawking. The second kiss, a few minutes later, was more successful, if only because he forewarned of its arrival—‘Hey, let’s kiss again!’—which gave me a split-second to rein in my inhibitions and decide to kiss back. I have a bad habit of making snap decisions about potential suitors’ suitability, and so in the spirit of the evening, was trying to be open-minded! In terms of Andy’s technique, if we must get that specific, ‘A’ for effort. But, no fireworks or butterflies. He said I had ‘great lips,’ to which I responded with a weird, nervous laugh. I felt like Sharleen, the awkward-queen from last season’s The Bachelor, but he seemed unfazed.
“Andy settled the bill and paid the tip [Editor's note: the first $100 of a Hook-Up date's bill is covered by the restaurant, not including the tip] and then gave me another big hug before leaving. Honestly, it was a great evening and Andy was a wonderful, charming date—I wish I had felt more of a spark. Attraction, for me, is often more cerebral than physical, and while I don’t doubt Andy’s intellectual prowess, I didn’t see the potential for a meaningful, sustainable match: we’re birds of a different feather. I don’t think I would see Andy again in a romantic context, but again, I had a lovely time. Single ladies of Toronto, this guy is a catch.”
COURTNEY RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Andy’s hair: 8
Andy’s tact: 8
Andy on Courtney
“The first thing I noticed about Courtney was her height. She was tall. I really dug her. I loved her style and her smile. I was attracted to her; she is a beautiful woman. I could tell that she was quite nervous, as I was, but it felt like we started to click pretty quickly. We made some great eye contact right off the bat.
“The bar had a cool, cottage type of style, and it was a real beer bar, which, being a beer guy, I loved. We started just shooting it a bit after we sat down and talked about a bunch of things, like music and travelling. Courtney told me that she lived in Paris for about five years for work, and would probably have ended up staying there if she could have. I really loved the fact that she got up and went to Paris and was there for that long. I found Courtney to be really adventurous. We talked about Europe a bit, and places like London—a city we both really appreciate.
“She talked about her fascination with her job and how, even though the hours can be long, it’s something she truly loves, so it’s all worthwhile. I loved the fact that she loved her career, as do I, so we really connected on that front. It just added to the positivity of the whole evening. When she asked about my travels, I talked about my love for backpacking and how I’ve been to southeast Asia, various countries in Europe, and Costa Rica.
“I noticed that Courtney was not a beer girl, so I found it particularly cool that she still had a couple of pints because she was in a beer bar. I [suggested] a couple of light ones to try, and she turned out to really enjoy them. Her eagerness for trying what the place is known for really stood well with me. It showed her open-mindedness and willingness to go with the flow, even if it wasn’t fully her scene.
“Once the drinks started flowing, we really started mellowing out. We definitely got a good buzz going from the beers, and talked about what we love doing. I told her I love extreme sports like skydiving, which really freaked her out: she told me she’s not the best with planes or heights. We then both talked about our mutual appreciation for dogs. I am getting a Rottweiler puppy later this summer, so I showed her a few pictures from the kennel and she said that she loved Rotties. Having that in common was awesome. By then we were a good few drinks in.
“The time with Courtney was amazing. Her smile was so genuine and kind, as were her eyes. I could tell that we were different people, in that I was a bit more ‘rock’- and ‘beer’-based, with the tattoos and so on, and she seemed a bit more ‘lounge’-style, [but] the cool thing about it was that we meshed, despite our differences. Well, at least I think we did.
“We talked and laughed about the Toronto dating scene over dinner, and how we both thought it was overall a pretty lame situation. I think that made [this] situation even more comfortable. At one point, I leaned over and gave her a kiss. Her lips were incredible. In fact, after a few minutes I did it again.
“I asked for her number pretty much halfway through the date because I didn’t want to potentially miss getting it later. I definitely felt something for Courtney and I would love to call her and see her again. Throughout the night, it never felt awkward in any way. We shared great laughs and a fun connection. I felt a great, genuine vibe about her. Even if we end up becoming friends, I would love that, because she just seems to be the type of woman that is awesome all-around.”
ANDY RATES THE DATE (OUT OF 10):
Courtney’s style: 8
Courtney’s manners: 9
Courtney’s laugh: 9
Special thanks to Duke’s Refresher + Bar, 382 Yonge St., Unit 8 (the corner of Yonge and Gerrard). Follow @DukesRefresher and Like Facebook.com/DukesRefresher.
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