: : I had often walked by Sutra, advertised as a Tiki bar located in Toronto’s Little Italy district but it was always closed. Though no word of it ever came through the grapevine as a hot Polynesian nightspot, when I finally had the opportunity to take along an adventurous companion, we decided to drop in to the boîte. : :

: : Sutra’s main bar is long and narrow with roomy booths and minimalist decor. The effect is stylish, with a tasteful use of bamboo and dim, mood lighting. Masks line the walls but are more African than Polynesian in look. The only nod to Tiki here is a large ceramic Moai on the bar, and a row of mugs behind the bartender. : :

: : The Tiki patio bar is located at the rear and is a perfect refuge from bustling Little Italy. Colourful murals with bold Polynesian idols decorate the shabby-chic back wall that Sutra shares with the neighbouring repertory theatre, the Royal Cinema. Part of the patio is open to the sky but customers are shielded from the elements by mini thatched roofs above the tables. The sand-covered floor adds to the faux tropical atmosphere. : :

: : The drink menu – the only menu – featured a slew of exotic sounding beverages such as Big Bamboo Love Song, Wicky Wacky Woo, and Jealous Tiki God. I settled on the more pedestrian sounding Banana Colada – rum, fresh banana, pineapple juice and cream – but it turned out to be anything but pedestrian. My companion ordered both the Scorpion and the Frozen Bellini. I, of course, had to sample her drinks. The bartending at Sutra is topnotch; all the beverages were tasty and had just the right amount of sweetness. They avoided the trap of the overly sweetened Polynesian cocktail that is a common downfall of many Tiki establishments. The only disappointment was that the drinks were not presented in either a Tiki mug or coconut, as the menu had stated, even though there were plenty on display at the bar. : :

: : The atmosphere was relaxed the night we visited Sutra, though the music did not enhance the Tiki experience as much as it did the modern aspect of the bar. Al, our skilled bartender, plays a mixed bag of music during the week but on Friday and Saturday nights, deejays take over to spin funk and techno to packed houses of 20-somethings looking for a good time. : :

: : If one has a hankering for a vintage Tiki bar experience in Toronto, you are out of luck. But in a city (and province) that boasts not a single Polynesian venue, at least Sutra enables you to partake of excellent frothy drinks while you wiggle your toes in the sand. : :

Sutra Tiki Bar

612 College St.

Toronto, Ontario

Phone: 416-537-8755

(CLOSED IN 2012)

Jo Bradley © 2005


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