Last night I went to a show featuring Noel Johnson and Sidney York. Both were great acts, and my review of the show will be up on Grayowl Point later today.
What I want to do today, though, is an exercise in imagery, and it’s maybe something I’ll try to do every time I go to a new venue.
As you walk down Front Street, past the large arts buildings east of Yonge, and then passing Church Street, you might very well miss C’est What. It doesn’t announce itself with a neon sign, only a canopy that you can only see by looking at it straight on. The initial confusion worn off, you’ll open the door and immediately walk down a flight of stairs.
The last detail may make you think you’re walking into a grungy place. Not so. After walking down the stairs, you can go into the restaurant by walking through a doorway to the left, or you can walk straight through to the bar and venue area.
When you walk straight, the first thing you’ll notice is the bar. It’s long, and behind the counter there are more spouts for beer than you’ll see in any regular bar. There are so many beer selections that a menu is actually lying on the counter.
The walls are brick, making you feel like you might have walked into someone’s own private establishment. Wooden tables line the area to the left of the bar, and on the walls are simple, black and white abstract paintings.
If you turn right immediately after entering the doorway straight ahead, you’ll glimpse the venue. It’s longer than it is wide. It is dimly lit, save for a few small overheard lights, and torch-looking lights on the walls. It sort of gives the feel of walking into an Abercrombie & Fitch store, only not filled with nearly as much pretension or fake attitude.
There are tables lining both sides of the wall, almost giving the room a “dinner theatre” feel though the stage is small. In fact, while people drinking beer is the most common site you’ll see, it’s just as likely that you’ll see people ordering food and eating in booths. Whether these people came strictly for dinner or the show isn’t clear, but the live music can’t hurt.
There are also other little flourishes that make the bar at C’est What a little different. To the left of the doorway is a glass case with C’est What merchandise, including a t-shirt advertising the bar’s own coffee porter beer, a blue bag, and other things. The sound system is almost connected to the bar, which must be pretty damn sweet for the sound guy,
When shows are on, the restaurant side gets deathly quiet.