Stepping into the recently opened Inn LW12, I found myself thinking, “Shit, what have I gotten myself into?” First, it’s in the Meatpacking District. Second, foodies are all too predictably calling it (let’s all say it together) a gastropub. Third, it’s in the Meatpacking District. Did I mention it’s supposed to be Canadian? Any way I looked at it, this was certainly not good.
Snuggled ever so coyly next to 5Ninth sits a townhouse of wood and Mounties that, on first sight, makes quite an impression. Once inside, you’re greeted by what seems like hundreds of framed photos and drawings celebrating the joys of saying “eh” at the end of every sentence. Numerous high-top tables surround the maple bar that acts as a centerpiece for the warmly lit street-level “Tap Room.” If you’re in the mood for something more formal, you can skip the casual boredom of the cabin-like environment and mosey your way past the secret service-like ear-pieced model that pretends like the upstairs is sacred ground, and take in the more formal “Canoe Club,” with its red lacquer walls, copper bar and yes, mirrored ceilings.
Despite the woodsy Canadian feel, it’s the Brit-themed food and drinks that make this three-storied headcase a bit more interesting (the third story has yet to open). Red-coated chef Andy Bennett has created an almost unthinkable menu of Canuck-meets-the-Union-Jack fusion that includes duck-leg soup, Guinness-braised iron steak, and only-in-Canada poutine (fries smothered in cheddar cheese curds and gravy).
As far as the drinks are concerned, there’s really nothing that wouldn’t make a Hoser proud. Yes, you could shuffle up to the bar and share ice fishing stories over a Molson or Boilermaker (pale ale with a shot of whiskey), but it’s the Double Seven-inspired Maple Leaf (whiskey, maple syrup, and lemon juice) that seems to fit the venue’s all-things-sappy theme. Or, if you’re not into getting in touch with your inner Gretzky, you can sip on an English-inspired Hayes Cup (just think Plymouth Gin, and lots of it) that will most certainly tempt you to drive on the “other” side of the road.
Overall, Inn LW12 provides little disappointment. The food is unique, the drinks are delicious and the décor is as warm as a Saskatoon sunset. Unfortunately, the location seems to encourage a crowd that has little appreciation for Canadian gastro (whatever that is), and thus hinders what could be a delicious experience that goes beyond the hockey, curling, and bacon that makes our friends to the north so damn, well, Canadian.