Bar 244 with Jason Rolland
Event Time: Wednesdays, 10 PM to 2 AM
Been a bit of a lag time for me. And while I've been getting out venues to write about them, been a dog of a time getting them written. Finally getting this one out. Jason Rolland, guy who for quite some time has maintained title for "Best Karaoke Equipment" for sometime now, has a new venue at University and Adelaide. Bar 244. Simple, name, close to Tequila Sunrise, one of Jason's oldest Toronto venues. Its actually impressive to keep 2 karaoke venues within the same block with the same MC. Identical equipment makes the scoring so much simpler, especially when its as good as Jason's.
The Good: Great to know the good things about Jason Rolland's shows haven't changed. Sound levels still dead on, wireless mikes, LCD screen, excellent balance and still the best official song selection in Toronto. (He's up to 37k+ now..). Being a Wednesday night, I found rotation times were fantastic, got in 3 songs in one hour. (I'm told the week before it was packed so I cannot guarantee the short wait times every week). Jason's actually improve as an MC: His jokes were surprisingly funny. We've been short of truly comic Karaoke hosts since Jeff Zedic left the country. One day I'll have to do a side-by-side comparison between Jason Rolland and Peter Rockwell. The stage feels like a stage, and all the people at the bar can look at you, their drinks, or each other. Nice to have a captive audience. :D Given that the prices of beers are better than average, you can be pretty sure people will cheer out of appreciation, or drunkenness. It works well either way. Location is also fairly convenient as well. Just go to Osgoode Subway Station and 5 minute walk. Drink service is excellent.
The Mixed: Nothing mixed.
The Bad: The decor reminded me of a typical American Bar: No real decor or theme. Its okay, but it LOOKS like a bar. So long as you keep the booze rolling you probably won't notice. Maybe that's the point. Another consequence of being a bar is no food. Eat before you arrive. (although I'm told alcohol goes to your head faster on an empty stomach).
Bar 244 with Jason Roland is (and I told him as much) a quality Karaoke venue. Best for a karaoke version of the "after-dinner mint" because of lack of food. On the other hand, the price for the booze is right, the selection is the biggest in the city, the equipment still the best, and Jason Rolland actually gets plenty of laughs, no alcohol required. You may still want that liquid courage to sing songs you wouldn't dare try otherwise. Whatever those songs may be, Jason is likely to have them, this is the best you are likely to sound, and one of the better karaoke stages as well (bonus). So go for it! If you love Karaoke and drinks, you'll enjoy this Bar 244.
Final Grade: B/B+
Facilities: 7.5 (Great Stage, Good layout. A bar is a Bar I guess, but as Karaoke Bars go, this one's well above par, nothing run down looking, just no real decor)
Equipment: 9.5 (Jason Rolland's Equipment...nuff said)
Song Selection: 9.5 (Again, Jason Rolland...nuff said)
Food Selection: NA (What food?)
Food Quality: NA
Food Service: 8.0 (drinks only)
Prices: 8.4 (Quite good actually)
Location: 8.2 (Just a trip to Osgoode, walk south, then west)
Wait Times: 9.0 (Not many people in queue when I was there, be warned though some nights are busier than others)
Host: 8.2 (Jason actually seems to get better with time. He keeps the long songs shorter, and the rotation going as always AND his crowd interaction has come some ways. This may be the best I've seen him)
Karaoke Wednesdays, 2 PM to 2 AM
244 Adelaide Street West
Phone: (416) 599-2442
Karaoke Host Info: