SQUIRLY'S (807 Queen West, at Manning, 416-703-0574) Complete meals for $15 per person, including all taxes, tip and a pint. Average main $8. Open Sunday and Monday 11:30 to 1 am, Tuesday to Saturday 11:30 to 2:30 am. Access: barrier free, washrooms in basement. Rating: NN Rating: NN
Red and black leopard-print swivel stools line the curvaceous bar in Squirly's front room. A padded strip of sparkling gold naugahyde gilds the wall, and the chairs are similarly upholstered in varying hues.
A mermaid dangles from the ceiling as though watching over the drinkers, who on a Monday night are few. It's all a bit seedy, but in a sexy Mickey Rourke/Faye Dunaway-playing-barflies kind of way. Few other places on West Queen West serve meals for under $10, $2.99 pints and $4.50 imports.
The European tapas plate ($6.95) makes a decent vegetarian snack: roasted red pepper and artichoke dip and a spinach, garlic and feta spread chilled a bit too firm for dipping but quite tasty served with a couple of slices of Brie and plenty of toasted pita triangles.
The personal pizza with choice of three toppings ($8.95) is large enough for two. Too bad the crust on ours hasn't cooked at all under the massive weight of oily mozzarella. It's inedible. Also a very large portion, pad thai with tofu, a couple of shrimp and chicken morsels ($10.75) is just passable, lacking heat and moisture.
Weekend brunch is better.
The home burger ($6.95), a real, properly seasoned burger and not a frozen one out of a box, is sided with excellent wedges of fried mini red potatoes.
Huevos Maximos ($7.50), a Mexican version of Benedict, sees two well-poached eggs on a slice of toasted corn bread with Monterey Jack cheese and a peculiar cumin salsa. Home fries come with this dish, too.
Squirly's has been a popular watering hole since the early 90s, so I hope they can fix the kitchen problems. I like having it around.