What’s on the menu at Short Turn, a snazzy new cocktail spot on Queen West from the 416 Snack Bar team
Name: Short Turn
Contact: 576 Queen St. W.
Neighbourhood: Queen West
Owners: Adrian Ravinsky, Dave Stewart, Taylor Lackie (416 Snack Bar)
Chef: Dustin Gallagher (416 Snack Bar, Peoples Eatery, Noble House)
Accessibility: Not fully accessible
In 2011, Dave Stewart and Adrian Ravinsky—who both worked in restaurants at the time—had an idea. “After our shifts, we used to just hang out at bars, because at the time there was really nowhere else to go that late,” says Stewart. The problem was, they would often get hungry. “We had to leave the bar to get food, and all that you could get that late was shawarma or hot dogs. So we thought, Why not bring the food to the bar?” Thus, 416 Snack Bar was born out of the desire to feed fellow industry folks good late-night nosh. But, as it turns out, those in the industry weren’t the only ones interested in eating solid, thoughtfully constructed but totally unpretentious small plates in the wee hours of the morning.
Over the past 12 years, due to its limited capacity and extreme popularity, 416 Snack Bar has had to turn away many a hungry and thirsty person. Short Turn, its brand new sister spot, aims to change that. Just a hop and a step—or a short turn, if you will—around the corner, it features hits from the 416 Snack Bar menu and some intensely designed recreations of classic cocktails.
For now, the food menu is composed of 416 Snack Bar classics, like the Korean fried chicken, steamed buns and the Eggplant Double Down—a snack so popular it has long outlived its novelty KFC namesake. The sandwich is composed of house tomato sauce, fresh buffalo mozzarella and peppery arugula stuffed between two thick-cut slices of eggplant dredged in flour, egg and quinoa and then deep fried to a crisp golden brown. Some quicker-hit snacks, like sliced lap cheong sausage, cured olives, shrimp chips and almonds will make their way onto the menu over time.
Designed by cocktail consultant Sally Gillespie (Bar Raval), the drink menu is an exciting amalgamation of the classics done with absolute precision and a few twists here and there. The Pocket Caesar, for instance, is served freezing cold (but without ice) in a five-ounce glass. This intensely caesary caesar is meant to have all the flavour without all the comical garnishes. Gillespie achieves this through a combination of good old-fashioned Clamato amped up with pickle juice, house-made umami mushroom and olive leaf tinctures, and bacon-infused vodka.
Another must-try is an homage to Michelle Rabin’s Miso Banana Upside Down Cake, which became a pandemic baking trend on Instagram. Having become very familiar with said dessert, Gillespie recreated it in cocktail form. Michelle’s Manhattan is a stirred whisky cocktail made with miso and coconut oils fat-washed into scotch and house-made banana tincture.
The name Short Turn was inspired by the dreaded streetcars that stop before their route’s end, often getting riders only halfway to their destinations. Since the new bar was meant to serve the overflow of customers intending to visit 416, the team thought it made total sense to subtly conjure the streetcar theme throughout the space. As it happens, the long, narrow room lends itself nicely to this idea. “We took a handful of visual references from various generations of streetcar design to make for a place that might ideally conjure a romantic streetcar ride,” says Ravinsky.
Whether or not one gets “streetcar” when walking into Short Turn, the warm, curvy wood-lined room is pretty gorgeous. Under the moody light of vintage fixtures (some salvaged from an old streetcar), the space reveals a long banquette with side-by-side seating offering views of the stainless steel bar, itself quietly reminiscent of a TTC collector’s booth. All of which makes sense: though one may not arrive at Short Turn on purpose, the space is so perfectly intentional—even slightly theatrical—that it’s easy to imagine a guest buying a ticket to ride out the night here.