Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Karaoke Review: The Tennessee Bar & Restaurant w/ Peter Styles


Although I haven't written in quite sometime I have been watching events, restaurants, and trends. One thing I've definitely been seeing is  restaurants having more attempts at Karaoke on Thursdays and Sundays. It's a interesting day for karaoke carousing as most of us have to work the next day. The big advantage is you get a LOT more songs in for the evenings. Generally not as packed as a Thursday or Friday night. When I was told by Peter Styles he was doing karaoke at a new venue on Sundays I was curious. First time I'd seen him doing that day. A few other restaurants doing are trying to use karaoke their customers base on typically slower days. It will be interesting to see if this experiment will start a new trend.

The Good: I've got admit, I don't find a lot of good karaoke venues in the Parkdale area. I'd seen another karaoke event at a bar will remain nameless because, frankly, it had no real food, decor or to put it bluntly, class. The Tennessee Bar & Restaurant was a pleasant surprise. It is a venue under new name and management, but the owner is going all out to make an impression and in my eyes it's a good one. Plenty of seats but not overly packed. The stage for where bands play is actually an ideal spot for karaoke singers as you can see almost the entire place. There are speakers throughout the ENTIRE Restaurant so you are sure to be heard. The sound quality is excellent. Significantly better than the Gladstone as are the sound levels.  Peter's collection of around 40k songs is enough to keep virtually everyone happy. (Only Jason Rolland has more songs I think). What really got my attention is the food. Actually had the best macaroni and cheese I think I've ever had in Toronto (it didn't taste like processed cheese but more like rossotto), nice portions, and the drinks were reasonably priced. (an increasingly rarity) You can actually have a decent meal there for around $15 which these days is a big deal with restaurants averaging $20+ for a meal in TO. It's easy enough to get to on the Queen Street Street Car. Oh, wait times? No problem. You'll get at least 2-3 songs an hour. The MC, well it's Peter Styles who always has a flair for hosting shows. I'd love to see some modern jokes (some of his jokes are a little old between rotations) but he keeps the show flowing and fun. Still the only guy I know with an "Applause" sign.

The Mixed: This is tough. Okay, one thing: Karaoke Books. Karaoke hosts like Peter Styles and Jason Rolland have so many songs it get's troublesome to keep up a paper copy. Still, I wish Peter had at least one book with a bigger portion of the collection (It would be a HEAVY book as Jason Rolland has proven). Typically you just give a song title and he'll have it 80% of the time. There is a website that was recently restored after being down for a bit and rumor of a site that will allow entry of songs through a smart phone. I'll keep you posted on the developments there.

The Bad: There just had to be something, didn't there? Fortunately only one thing: Service. I had trouble getting anyone to take my order so I wound up going up to the bar to order my food. It was probably just an oversight on a slow evening (Sunday's being what they are) but still..when I have a menu and I'm ready to order food, you expect some service. The food is worth the trouble though and I'll go back for that because I'm used to getting not so great food at high prices. Hopefully the new staff at a new venue will have the kinks there ironed out.

Summary: Summary, I'm sold. With the exception of food service, the value on the food is the best I've had in a long time, the quality and the price. The stage layout is very good, the song selection likewise, the host is an old pro, and the sound quality is way up there. You'll also get to sing plenty of song with a reasonably short rotation. What else is there to say? I'll check out the venue on a Thursday which has another karaoke host to see how he fares. But as for the Sundays, I'd say come at 8 PM sharp and have a blast. Cause you will. Assuming the wait staff gets it together, this could be a first class karaoke venue.

Final Score: B+ (had to take off something for having to order food from the bar when menus were on the table, I'd give this a solid A- otherwise).

Facilities: 9.0 (Overall good size and layout, would be perfect if stage was near the window )
Equipment: 8.9 (Great sound, balance, and even sound through the whole venue)
Song Selection: 8.9( 40k songs, but Jason Rolland is still king here, but gap is closing)
Food Selection:7.8 (Sandwiches, Salads, Pasta and Burgers. Overall good balance)
Food Quality: 8.8  (Sampled the Fish + Chips and Mac & Cheese was very pleased. only thing that might improve would be to season the fries a bit)
Food Prices: 9.0 (The food prices here are amazing! Especially these days)
Location: 8.2 (Adelaide a one way street. All parking is paid. Small walk from John/Queen or King off the Street car)
Host: 8.8 (Peter could freshen up his in-between rotation commentary, but he's always engaging)
Wait times: 9.5 (You'll get to sing lots of songs, that could change of course depending on crowds..)
Food Service:7.0 (The staff was quick to deliver the food, so I gave a 7, but having to get up from the table to get food ordered, I'll consider it kinks in a new venue to be ironed out. A repeat however and I'll have to lower the score here)

Venue Information:
Peter Styles, Sundays
Tennessee Bar & Restaurant
1554 Queen Street West
Toronto Ontario
(416) 532-2570