Pray Tell 838 College, @praytellbar. See listing.
When you visit Pray Tell, a new bar and snack spot from the minds behind nearby lawn-sports-slash-party-bar Track & Field, don’t wear your freshest kicks, let alone your Sunday shoes.
Chances are you’ll have to navigate the nasty gutter puddles and globs of soggy sand that have been plaguing College for the past two months. Don’t worry, though, your sidewalk struggle won’t matter once you get inside.
Unlike its cavernous sister bar less than a block away, where squinting is recommended and a flash is needed to document saturated rounds of indoor bocce, Pray Tell is light-filled and pretty, its angular plant wall and raw wood evoking some kind of Nordic-Canadian lodge: a happy place, indeed.
Partners Dustin Keating and Nickie Minshall (Track & Field) and chef/partner Sonia Mondino (who formerly graced kitchens at Home of the Brave and Patois) wanted to add to the street’s F&B offerings without specializing. That stretch of the city is already home to more than a few distinct bar and restaurant concepts, be they Spanish, Italian or Portuguese, whisky or sports.
Instead, they envisioned a chill bar where anyone can walk in and refresh themselves multiple times a week. A one-stop everyday bar is what the neighbourhood was missing. Taking advantage of its modest size, Pray Tell will switch up its drink and snack menus regularly to keep things interesting.
Current cocktails are summery, laced with fruit and florals. Start off delicately with the Make Nice, a floral pisco sour with passion fruit and rose-infused Cointreau ($12), take a savoury turn with the B-Side Track (tequila, charred jalapeño pina shrub, strawberry, lime and salt, rimmed with spices, $12). There are classics, too – old-fashioneds ($15), zombies ($14), and Old Pals ($12).
If like me, you can’t stand cocktails as a meal accompaniment, there are nine wines by the glass and bottled beer (though no draught). Mondino’s snack offerings zigzag continents, plucking ingredients and inspiration from North America, Europe and Asia. Try Pocket Pizzas in Bolognese or veg ($8), Japanese-ish steak tartare ($15), charcuterie and cheese ($18) or crispy dumplings stuffed with pork and sauerkraut ($8).
Despite its minimalist hipster branding, Pray Tell’s subtle strength is that it’s not too cool: you won’t feel like an idiot walking in with dirt on your shoe. It’s charming, relaxed and cozy, anxiety- and pretension-free, as any bar that hopes to nurture a core of devout regulars should be.
Hours: Sunday to Thursday 5 pm to midnight, Friday and Saturday 5 pm to 2 am.
Access One step at door, washrooms in basement.
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