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811 Queen St. W.
Ambience: Sisters Alka and Poonam Dhir have brought a contemporary Indian flavour to Queen West with their new restaurant/drink emporium. The aim, of course, is to capture the often fickle loyalty of some of the area’s pre-club-and-bar-going set, as well as to provide an alternative for those looking to impress a date or simply indulge in interesting cocktails over dinner with friends. The detailed menu puts a modern spin on old Indian favourites, but it’s the libation list that sets Indus Junction apart from other drinking establishments. The sisters have created a menu that blends yogurts, spices such as cardamom and fresh fruits — not to mention carefully selected alcohols like lychee liqueur — to invoke instant images of Asia. The design of the tiny space, on the other hand, is in no way reminiscent of the owners’ ancestry, but instead plays on the early 19th-century design elements of the building that houses it to establish a trendy, welcoming vibe.
Crowd: The location can draw all sorts, but expect a slightly older clientele with an eye for the hottest new restaurants and bars in one of the city’s funkiest neighbourhoods.
Dress code: Casual attire is perfectly fine, but aim for a slightly more upscale look to fit in with the mature patrons and hipster crowd.
Should I dance on the bar?: If you want to engage in that sort of activity, go to The Hideout down the street.
Will I get lucky?: It’s not likely, but you’ll have plenty of time to woo your date with interesting stories about your past and grandiose predictions about your future.
Best conversation topic: Your last trip to India.
Cocktail du jour: The signature Mumbai Mango Cocktail (mango, yogurt, rum), the Vanilla Lassi Cocktail (yogurt, rum, cardamom), the Indus Lychee Martini (lychee juice, lychee liqueur, vodka) and an Indian-inspired Mojito are all worth a taste. The Sula Sauvignon Blanc from India is interesting, but unlikely to impress wine aficionados who will find more enticing options down the list. If you’re out for an adventurous night of cocktail-sipping, Indus Junction is a sound first stop.
Hours: Sunday to Saturday, noon to 2 p.m., and 6 to 10 p.m.