Jazz and Smoke’s: The Rex Jazz Bar and a Little Poutine

When I lived in Montreal and Charlottetown I lived at night. I could never get enough of the city at night; the smells, the cool air, the change in attitude. I am a night person. Toronto is not a night city. Yes, there are plenty of drunk lawyers, shop clerks and girls in dresses that do not fit in any credible direction, but they are pretending to be acquainted with the night.
Since V. left for Thunder Bay I have been trying my best to occupy my time productively and socially. I find it hard to be alone, but I am doing my best to re-connect with the world I usually avoid because I could do so. After a long afternoon shooting axes and paddles I opted to take a nap and then walk along King Street and Queen Street West on Saturday night. If you ever want to feel old, uncool and disconnected, then I strongly suggest that you do the same. By the time I approached University Avenue I was glad to find the only bar I ever feel comfortable in alone in Toronto alone: The Rex Jazz Bar.
I played there twice. Both times as bassist for a sextet, and while I loved the band I just could not commit to regular gigs. The jazz left my life as a main focus, but I do feel like it bought me a permanent cachet to be able to go to any jazz club and know exactly what is happening on stage. Tonight the band, Ricochet, just smoked for two sets and I was able to write a few paragraphs to add to my novel based on the scene. Last call left me walking home and hungry enough to try an over-the-top dinner: Smoke’s Poutine.

I should note that I did not eat today. I got into my work and forgot to eat so by 1am I was ready to try this hipster joint for the first time. Poutine is comfort food that was all but destroyed by fast food chains. In Quebec, you can still get stunning heaps of the real thing, but that is really the only place. From reviews I knew that Smoke’s would be heavy, good, but not authentic. I opted for the limited time only Slaughterhouse Poutine: chicken, pulled pork, sausage, hamburger and bacon on a large Poutine. If you are only ever going to eat there once, then I figured I should go whole hog, literally. Other than a dismal Pop Shoppe Lime Rickey, the Poutine was pretty spectacular. Each bite had different flavours. The warmth was comforting. I ate about half before my stomach surrendered and made me wrap it up for the morning breakfast. If you are hungry, and can spare an entire day’s calories like I did, then the experience will be worth your time and $15.


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