As Harry Potter himself learns, magic isn’t always obvious at first glance, and the Lockhart Bar is a perfect example. Sequestered in the middle of a busy street in the west end of Toronto, it can be easy to miss. But quiet allusions to the beloved boy wizard’s story are not so hard to find once you’ve stepped inside.
I visited the Lockhart in December with four other Potter fans and fellow bloggers, and the experience was both delicious and delightful. Cozy might not be the word that comes to mind when we talk about bars, but it is a rather cozy little nook that Paris Xerx and Matt Rocks have created on Dundas Street West.
Traveling trunk-tabletops can seat up to six, as they peruse drink menus labelled Potions & Elixers, names also echoed by the wall behind the bar. The geeky references don’t end at Harry Potter, however: there are also a few drinks that Star Trek and Doctor Who aficionados will be delighted to see.
As we were a group of five, our server recommended the Befuddlement Draft, served inside an ice bucket and with a shot of blue curacao on fire. I must report that we did not partake, but the table next to us did, gleefully, and the flames were quite noticeable. One of us opted for the Dr. Manhattan, a nod to Watchmen; another went with The Shacklebolt, in tribute to the Auror.
As the bartenders create these nerdy drinks, a neon “All Was Well” sign confirms the good-natured mood of the establishment. We snacked on gourmet popcorn (vanilla maple flavour on the night of our visit) while sipping our drinks. Baked brie and shrimp tempura proved irresistible as we chatted about books we’ve read and discussed the upcoming play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Here, even cursory trips to the washroom didn’t end the Potter-esque experience, as the walls are covered in quotes from the books and movies scribbled by patrons with chalk.
A particularly chilling warning was written over one stall, and I’ll admit that I screamed (and then laughed) when I saw it.
All in all, the Lockhart was a fun and nostalgia-filled way to spend an early Saturday evening. I loved seeing the joy among the staff, and their easy camaraderie and joking with patrons about favourite books and shows made it a welcoming place. The references to the fantasy series both owners love as much as their many visitors are tasteful, giving fans a chance to remember Harry’s story their own way. And really, isn’t that pretty magical?