You can always tell what day of the week it is by peaking your head into Alleycatz Live Jazz Bar's modern dining room. On Mondays, salsa bounces off the eatery's vibrant red oak and exposed-brick walls as instructors lead groups in free dance lessons. Jazz musicians improvise on Tuesdays, blues singers take the stage on Wednesdays, and soul and R&B bands please cochlear passageways on Thursdays. Fridays and Saturdays end the week by featuring a rotating melange of genres and top 40 hits.
Of course, this up-tempo atmosphere is fueled by food inspired by the Mediterranean, where some anthropologists believe music also exists. Just like jazz players enjoy slipping extra notes into their solos, executive chef Michael Skan isn't afraid to add his own little flourishes to classic items. He gives the fresh-made pasta dishes playful names like "Sexy Spaghettini"—which comes mixed with tiger Shrimp, grilled chicken, and a spicy cilantro olive oil—and deep fries New York-style cheesecakes. The bartenders share Chef Skan's creative flair, mixing signature martins such as the "Orgasmic Catz," an amalgamation of raspberry vodka, Cointreau, Champagne, lime, and cranberry.
Wanting to fuse Mediterranean hospitality with modern elegance, the owners of Zemra Bar Lounge took design plans into their own hands, opening their walls and stage to local artists and musicians. Subdued light bounces off red and goldenrod walls dotted with paint, highlighting the friendly wait staff as they bustle between the dining room and kitchen. Inside the culinary chemistry lab, chefs Ghandour and Brunke prepare pastas, steaks, chops, and seafood from a menu of fine Pan-Mediterranean fare. To compliment the cuisine, the chefs recommend a variety of wines or one of the bar master's signature cocktails. Events such as the open mic on Wednesdays and live music on Fridays create a festive atmosphere while reflecting the local community, their talents, penchant for creativity, and ability to whistle in Italian.
By fusing together a bistro, jazz club, and art gallery, The Gallery Studio Cafe remains dedicated to owner Derek Houghton's vision of supporting local artists. Chef Carol, The Gallery Studio Cafe's certified cuisine concocter, assembles an array of tapas, soups, sandwiches, and brunch fare in her open kitchen, allowing diners to watch as Carol preps their meals and sharpens her samurai swords for vegetable chopping. Comfy European white leather furniture cozies up beside the café's real fireplace amid canvases crafted by local and international artists displayed throughout the expansive gallery space. In addition to jazz performances four nights a week, ranging from Thursday-night acoustic renditions to Saturday-afternoon sessions, The Gallery Studio Cafe hosts abundant musical events, including swing music every second Wednesday of the month and whenever Fred Astaire's ghost drops by.
Bartenders lean over the illuminated bar, pouring beers from the tap or tipping bottles into ice-filled glasses. Inside Seneca Pub, flat-screen TVs overhead broadcast local sporting events, and the smells of battered fish and chips and rich poutine fill the air. The snap of a cue ball breaking a rack resounds across the large, open space, where theme nights feature stand-up comedians or lying-down tragedians.
Samovar Room melds vodka and voluptuousness to give patrons an upscale, Russian-influenced night on the town. Ignite imbibing with an item from Samovar Room's drink menu, such as a vodka-infused lychee martini ($9) or the Sparkling Pear ($11), made from pear vodka and sparkling pear juice. For guests seeking further forays into distilled derring-do, Samovar Room offers vodka tastings, with three standard vodkas ($32) or three premium vodkas ($42) available. Both options are served with Russian bread and pickles as well as smoked salmon. Samovar Room's edibles extend beyond vodka-accompanying sidekicks, however, with a full dinner menu using local and seasonal ingredients. Split steamed mussels ($12) with the doctor to your Zhivago, or opt for a roasted boneless chicken ($17) with vegetables and fries. Caviar is also available (prices vary).