The Gabardine…..Bay St, Toronto


On Monday night we went down to The Gabardine. It’s French for rustic or some other garble, says L on the other line. There’s a wait so we wander around a well lit HBC full of finer things, holiday sparkle, before coming back to the same place with the stained white circular sign of a black bird silhouette. Either a stately looking penguin or a sure footed pelican. We’re all excited. The place is dimly lit and resembles someone’s dark wood family room. We are seated in the back, a tiny nook the size of a fireplace. On the walls are frames with vintage sketches and bizarre news items. A worn watercolor ad for California lemons, one entry about THE MOON – “It looks like dirty beach sand with lots of footprints”

I feel like I’m having supper at an eccentric relative’s house complete with grandma plates, all flowery, the coral petals coming off like cursive, intertwining in loops. Delicate. But the flavors are robust Canadiana fanfare, simple mac and cheese, pulled pork sandwiches that tastes like brisket, everything tempered by homemade guac or spiked lemonade. There is a lot of wine in my tiny glass goblet of Hibiscus Royale. We start to hoard candles. The plaid waiter is onto us but doesn’t let on. He smiles behind his sleeve. We take pictures from all acrobatic angles. A snuffed candles earns an exquisite shriek, as if there’s been a death in the family. The loud room pulsates with a hearty hum. The place is too small to be impersonal, too noisy for romantic overtures, just a good spot for good food, loose conversation.

We’re in the business of not asking or telling, just watching, reacting, being.

Underneath the hanging lights, moonlit orbs, the world revolves a little slower, the brim of a glass sneaks closer to a plum colored mouth. M’s bracelet flashes, a silver horse shoe the size of a dime. We need more light but sometimes the darkness is nice too.  From across the room dark eyes dart back and forth, an open stare, it lingers. All of this exists on Bay and Richmond in a red-wine stamp of a room unaffected by the November cold.

*Gabardine means closely woven cloth