CLOSED: Alleycatz Live Jazz Bar (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 2409 Yonge Street
Type of Meal: Dinner

Alleycatz has been an uptown locale known for its live music – a variety of jazz, R&B & funk and top 40 in between sets.  Having visited twice, both times I can’t help joining everyone on the dance floor after a bottle of wine. The crowd is always an eclectic mix, but everyone seems be there for a good time making it easy for us to let loose. It’s a bonus that the restaurant is a comfortable fullness so I don’t feel like I’m packed like a sardine and still enjoy my personal space while dancing.

During my first visit, some friends and I stumbled upon Alleycatz after dinner and stayed for drinks and live music.  After my friend heard about a Groupon promotion ($25 for $50), we decided it was a great opportunity to return and try their food as well.

Admittedly, I had low expectations after reading Urbanspoon reviews and seeing its dismal score.  But, we were both pleasantly surprised with their efficient & friendly service, respectable food and a good band that night that had us staying for longer than expected.

We decided to play it safe and stick with simple dishes; with only the mussels ($10) being a bit risky given non-fresh seafood could have dire consequences.  Indeed, the mussels were frozen and a smaller size but were a passable quality.  The spicy white wine sauce was flavourful (albeit more buttery than spicy) and was great for sopping up with bread; I just wished there was more of the cooking liquid and everything arrived hotter.  Perhaps they should consider serving it in a mini pot and lifting the lid at the table so that the mussels stay hot en route.

The bruschetta ($9) was also good with a well toasted baguette base, tons of tomatoes, garlic & red onions, a decent shaving of parmesan and a liberal drizzling of sweet balsamic glaze.  I would have liked to taste more of the basil, but then I do love fresh herb flavours.  The serving size was a little disappointing with only four slices, a tad expensive for $9.  

Having looked around, we found their mains to be quite large so decided to split the sexy spaghettini ($17).  Our waitress asked if we were planning to share the dish, then took the liberty to get the kitchen to divide the portion for us which is always appreciated (note, the photo shown is only a half portion).  Alleycatz makes the pasta in house so it’s softer and chewier (almost like a ramen noodle). 

The spaghettini thankfully arrived piping hot. So, perhaps Alleycatz has a problem with serving dishes in a timely manner, causing them to sit around (our mussels would have tasted much better if the temperature was the same as the pasta).  The spicy cilantro olive oil had a well-balanced heat to it, but if there were more pieces of roasted tomatoes chopped into the sauce to give the dish colour it would look “sexier”.  My friend and I each had a large tiger shrimp that was cooked well.  There could have been more grilled chicken as it was sort of lost it everything – I think I only had two small slices of it.

All in all, although the food is acceptable, Alleycatz won’t become a go to place for dinner.  I appreciate their attentive service, so would consider it a good option if you want to enjoy some live music, drinks and light bites.   

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!