They dressed their servers in dark denim, and raw cowhide shoulder holsters, named the place Weslodge, and opened in mid-July.
They also made their modern saloon the opposite of the awful you’d expect it would be.
They made it fun and gorgeous, like a place in another, bigger city, where of course Modern Saloon is a perfectly normal restaurant aesthetic. Even the food’s surprisingly good.
The room is the thing, though: The enormous, Lamborghini-yellow doors out to King Street; the stuffed snipe and snowy owl on the stairs to the washrooms; the Hyundai-sized water-buffalo head glowering over the bar. There are dusty old portraits, strings of olde-fashioned bar lights. A sheet of glass across the back wall looks into the busy kitchen beyond.
The cocktails, with their evocative names (Chai Vieux Carré; Smoking Poncho) and lush descriptions (“Lingering campfire with bold agave flavour, smooth vanilla-walnut finish”) are available in antique, cut-crystal barware, as well as by the bottle (the Tobacco Manhattan, which is made with a house tobacco tincture, costs either $18 or $185 – your choice, big fella). There’s a chalkboard with 31 whiskies on it, available by the half or full bottle. The wine menu, like the food ones, is bound in handsome leather. “Libations,” its title says.