This place has way more liquor bottles than the average coffice space.
Look, let’s be honest: it’s a bar. It’s a lovely, bright, airy bar with classic décor, with baked goods under glass on the bartop and all the necessary espresso equipment farther back. It has a bunch of stools at a counter in the window – great unless it’s a sunny day, in which case you’ll get a headache from trying to work there – and even more along the bar. And, at the back, by a glass door looking into their gravelled pocket patio, there’s a normal table with six chairs. OK, it’s really two square tables put together. But six chairs, anyway. That’s where I’m sitting, because it was very sunny when I arrived. Behind me, along the side wall, is a church pew with a lot of pretty pillows on it.
This place is on King Street, a block and a bit east of Parliament. There are a few other coffee places in the general vicinity. Each has a different feel. The name of this place, Henrietta Lane, is a pretty good clue that this is the classic-look one, like a bar that Daniel Day-Lewis would sit down in for a café au lait and a lovely tangy little Danish pastry. And then perhaps for a cocktail, once the appropriate hour arrived.
It’s in an old Toronto house, converted. Which also means there are steps, and the washroom is down the usual set of stairs in the basement. But the bathrooms in the basement are not basement-y. There is a seating area that seems to have been taken from your rich aunt’s summer house, and two unisex bathrooms that might as easily be in a hipster cocktail bar. Which, wait, they kind of are.
As I’ve worked here this afternoon, the maximum customer count at one time has been four. A customer would walk in and settle in with book or computer and a glass of wine or cup of coffee. I got up to get a second coffee and realized that all the people who had come in over the past hour were still there, making zero noise, reading and writing. The music played on. Eventually the customers all moved on too.
Then, around 4:20, a small group of people arrived and ordered some civilized draft beer. Then a couple more people came in. Then a couple more. It is now quarter to five and the joint is almost jumping. The espresso bar has been shut down and it is solidly booze o’clock in this place. The bartender is gradually dimming the lights. I am thinking of finishing my coffee and my work and having a cocktail.