Toronto’s Writing Spaces vol. 2: Monarch Tavern

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Where: 12 Clinton Street, Toronto, Ontario

When: A Thursday evening in late summer.

What I wrote: Blog posts and I edited two short plays.

Review: I was sitting at one of the tables across from the bar, which held a hard line of regulars at the time. One gentleman walked in and took the remaining stool at the wood and another said with pride, “all the dirt-bags are out tonight”, and it was then that I felt at home. Writing at the Monarch was pleasurable. It has a home-like feel with its close ceiling and almost rec-room like atmosphere. That is not to say it feels like a dank basement in the suburbs where Kevin Arnold tried to make-out with Winnie Cooper. Not at all. The Monarch is an institution in the Little Italy area of Toronto and for good reason. It fosters a comfortable and cozy feel and keeps with its namesake addendum of “tavern”.

Looking around the room I envisioned generations having passed through as The Monarch has been open since 1927. While being a pretty cool place to write, with inspiration on every stool and at every table, it could also be a setting for any number of scenes. From the classic “mobster dinner” scene to the setting of nervous first date where the ice is broken with a beer and a shot of bourbon followed by a game of pinball and a couple rounds of pool.  Inspiration surrounds you. When I was there the bar was a quarter filled with an eclectic mix of patrons. In addition to the regulars at the bar, there were what appeared to be university or college-aged kids and in between those tables was a couple in their 60’s enjoying a couple pints and sharing a veal sandwich from San Francesco’s (see below). The music was a melange of rock from all sub-genres and was played at a perfect volume to add some flavour but not distract.

If you are in it for the long haul I recommend bringing a fully-charged laptop battery as plugs are at a bit of a premium. There are two available at different tables and one behind the bar, but being as popular as it is the bar is usually the first space to occupied. And if the tables are taken then you are out of luck with respect to power. But, if you go at the right time, there should be no problems and the staff are very accommodating. The plug I used was poached from one of the speakers that is used for events such as open mics and karaoke so it had to be given back just before 10pm, a fate about which I had no complaints because I was ready to listen to the karaoke stars ply their trade.

Go and write here, but before you do, take in the room. Its “ghosts”, both imagined and literary, will tell you a story.

Hours: Monday to Saturday 11am-2am; Sunday 4pm-2am

Food/Drink: I will refer you to their website below for the full list of taps and an intro to their more than 30 types of bourbon. The Monarch has been known to host some pretty awesome food trucks and food pop-ups that have gone on to become full-fledged restaurants, so if they are serving food in house you know it is going to be tasty. If not, feel free to bring up a sandwich, calzone, or slice from one of their two neighbours, Bitondo’s Pizzeria and/or San Francesco, or if you are lucky Amy the awesome bartender will have gone on a popcorn run to the nearby The Royal and have some to share.

A/C: Yes.

WiFi: Yes, just ask for the password.

Website: The Monarch Tavern

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About jtkwriting

Writer living in Toronto. "Sneak out of your window darling, let's live like outlaws honey." View all posts by jtkwriting

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