Storm Crow Manor
Toronto, ON M4Y 2E5
Storm Crow Manor’s highly anticipated opening has finally come. With two locations already thriving in the pub’s hometown of Vancouver, this particular “sports bar for geeks” will be the company’s most extravagant locale to date.
“This is a far departure from anything we’ve ever done,” says General Manager and Games Master Douglas Gregoire, about Storm Crow Manor. “Our original Vancouver GM told me that she had delusions of grandeur about what the company could one day become, and she said she got to see those 'delusions' actually happen when she came here.”
The pub has set up shop in a heritage building on Church Street, and despite the red tape (and one very Toronto welcome from some raccoons who nearly caved the roof in), the company has managed to do an impressive upgrade that maintains the integrity of a building that has served the neighbourhood since 1877.
During my visit, I was served by the incomparable Hugh Wallace, a.k.a. Barbie Jo Bontemps, who several years prior made her drag debut in the very same building. The Manor’s many employees are being trained in matters of inclusivity, customer service, pub cuisine, and entertainment, all of which contribute to the unique experience Storm Crow aims to provide.
“We want to make sure that people feel very welcome here,” emphasizes Gregoire. “We’re not just for nerd-elites. We want to be a place where you can walk in knowing nothing, or knowing one or many [fandoms] really well, and have an equally incredible time.”
There's a labyrinth of rooms in the Manor, each with their own theme — from the Victorian Hunting Lounge where “sci-fi bounty hunters” might share a pitcher, to the Mad Scientist Bar (finished with electric chair seating and framed portraits that interact with one another). My personal favourite was a replica of the Black Lodge from Twin Peaks and the Overlook Hotel’s bar from The Shining. If that’s somehow not enough, worry not, because this is apparently just the beginning.
“We’ve opened our doors, but what you see right now is just scratching the surface of what the final manor will look like,” says Gregoire. “I receive boxes of stuff daily. We have Stranger Things lights coming, a bookshelf with a secret book latch, two 11-foot statues of Cthulhu that will flank the stairwell and a Tardis that guests will use to enter a room that’s bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.”
But all (literal) games aside, Storm Crow Manor aims to be a pub above all else. With chef Nitzan Cohen at the helm slinging some seriously elevated pub fare, the décor isn’t the only thing patrons are going to be impressed by.
Certain crowd favourites from Vancouver have been brought over, such as the gluten-sensitive Legendary Chick Pea Fries ($10) accompanied by a vegan optional sriracha aioli. Plated to look like a game of Jenga, each hefty “fry” packs a serious punch.
The Teenage Mutant Deep Fried Pickles ($9) are super tasty and served with a side of ranch.
Storm Crow Manor's menu features shareable cocktails that come with a side of spectacle. The Dark Side Bowl ($38) is served in Darth Vader’s helmet and arrives red and smoking. Rumour has it the drink will soon be accompanied by a small laser show and an audio track of the Imperial March with every order.
The cocktail menu features 20 distinct shots that patrons must roll a 20-sided-die for ($6). Roll one and get something heinous, roll two-19 and you’ll get a delicious treat, and if you land a 20 you’ll get to keep the themed shot glass. Don’t want to leave it up to fate? That’ll be $7 for you, picky one.
“Our goal is to really make people feel like they’re kids again,” explains Gregoire. “I want them to come in and have so much fun that they can’t wait to come back.”
“Walk around, grab a game, try on the infinity gauntlet, and leave here in a better mood than when you arrived. That’s what we’re striving for.”
By Saliha Chattoo
Published: November 9, 2018