Karaoke Review: Upfront Bar & Grill w/ Katie Appleton, Karaoke Queen
After reviewing "On the Rocks" I noticed only one block away another venue that had Karaoke with a new host so I decided to take a look at what this venue and host had to offer. Front Street has a number of trendy restaurants and service stores and with luck, Karaoke as well.
The Good: Katie is quite a good hosts. She interacts well with the crowd. Her equipment gets great sound and she keeps the levels well balanced. If you sound bad with equipment like this, don't audition on Canadian Idol. Everything is in great order in terms of equipment. Monitor is well placed for easy read of lyrics which is more than many places doing karaoke these days and a large back screen allows everyone to join in. There is a small area where people could dance if so desired. The food prices are quite good as well. Food service is fairly prompt.
The Mixed: The Food selection is enough for a basic bar/pub but nothing exceptional. Fairly standard which is not say its bad. Decor isn't bad but the rear of the bar is exposed with discarded or disused equipment which is rather an eyesore I was surprised to find there. Should be cleaned as its a real distraction and look less than professional. I noted with my meal that there was no ketchup bottle, only packets, which is usually a sign of less than "fine dining". It could have been there were out of ketchup but when this is part of the services you are selling, ketchup packets are for take-out, not dining in. Music selection is only in low 5ks, which is basically passable but no more. Karaoke Hosts need to be increasing their collections as the basic benchmark is now between 8-9k. The spread between periods is even enough to keep you fairly satisfied although you may not find everything you want, especially when compared to other Karaoke hosts with more songs. You might be waiting a bit on rotation times here as it can get fairly busy on Friday nights.
The Bad: Short and sweet: Nothing really bad here.
Summary: If you want Karaoke on Front Street with a professional quality host, this is an excellent venue to choose. While "On the Rocks" is a family run business which a karaoke machine, Upfront Bar & Grill offers an MC who knows how to work a crowd and has superior sound equipment. Its strange that "On the Rocks" has a better selection than Katie since she does 2 other venues. Perhaps that will change with time. In any case, Katie is a quality MC and while Upfront could use a little cleaning up near the bar with the disused equipment, its a quality venue to check out on Friday and Saturday nights.
Facilities: 7.6 (Overall they are not bad but the area by the bar needs to be cleaned up, look very untidy)
Equipment: 8.6 (Great sound, well placed monitor. wireless mics wouldn't hurt but its hard to have everything)
Song Selection: 6.9 (A bit on the weak side compared to other MCs)
Food Selection: 7.8 (A bit more than the basics, enough to keep most picky eaters happy)
Food Quality: 8.3 (food is quite good)
Prices: 8.0 (definitely above average, especially if you like Fish & Chips in Fridays)
Location: 7.8 (Front Street has no subways but a bus runs along and parking is available.)
Wait Times: 7.5 (you probably get 2 songs tops as it gets quite busy)
Host: 8.3 (A quality MC whose a pro with the prose and can work a crowd well)
Final Grade: C+
Upfront Bar & Grill
106 Front Street East
Toronto, ON M5A 1E1
10 PM - 2 AM