Farside brings living room bar vibe to East Chinatown

Photo:  Morgan Yew/Farside

Photo: Morgan Yew/Farside

Imagine all of the elements of an awesome house party: steady drinks, good music, close homies, and a flow of banter and laughter all wrapped up in an upbeat, social atmosphere.  

Among the faded storefronts of Toronto's East Chinatown, Farside nails that vibe and aesthetic.

Although it recently opened its doors, the bar immediately feels like a worn-in local. The warm and cozy room radiates a throwback vibe, what with its retro barware, serious collection of VHS tapes and floral-print wallpaper straight out of 1970s Florida. 

Stools wrap around a wooden bartop while mismatched tables line the wall. There's even one printed with cats for the feline fans. Plush upholstery makes relaxing a breeze. Classic movies and remixed images flicker onto the back wall and a huge mural that pays homage to its Chinatown location looms over the front.

Farside is helmed by the husband-wife duo of Mike Reynolds and Rachel Conduit. Conduit, an industry vet, also runs Handlebar in Kensington Market and was the woman behind beloved Queen East bar The Avro (RIP). Reynolds, aka DJ Damn Akroyd, was, until recently, a familiar face (with an epic beard) behind the bar at Hitch.

"Our goal is for the bar to feel like a living room: couches, VHS movie nights and DJs spinning vinyl," says Conduit.

Local craft beers are poured alongside cheap domestic bottles. There's the fantastically flavourful  Danforth Viaduct IPA and Henderson Brewing's Poke Mango Find Yourself, a mango and passion fruit-infused IPA. Bonus: Pop a lure on the Pokestop within reach of the bar and get a buck off your beer. How's that for a deal?

Classic cocktails and fresh inventions round out the drink list. Forever 41 is Farside's take on a white wine spritzer mixed with St. Germain elderberry liquor and decked out with a tropical pandan leaf. Chill Gonzalez, made with Serrano-spiced tequilla, is a sweet and sour concoction with a righteous kick. 

The bar has a handful of simple snacks like pickled eggs, bahn mi sandwiches and, perhaps most special, a slice of birthday cake (complete with candle) served on a Spice Girls-themed paper plate. The couple says they hit the jackpot on a serious find of old stock of the '90s girl group, and proceeded to buy it all up. 

Besides the bar and booze, half of the space is going to be dedicated to private art studios available for rent.

Farside is now open seven days a week from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. at 600 Gerrard St. E (at Broadview). Visit their Facebook page for more info.