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Introducing: Thirsty and Miserable, a new Kensington dive with a nice slate of craft beers

Inside the latest iteration of what was once Planet Kensington (Image: Caroline Aksich)

The craft beer renaissance is taking Ontario by storm (about a decade after it hit the U.S.), and this month saw the launch of another watering hole boasting a respectable list of microbrews from home and abroad: Kensington Market’s Thirsty and Miserable. When Katie Whittaker took over this Baldwin Street space, previously home to Havana Cuba, the place was in shambles: there was rotting food everywhere and a huge roach problem. After a month’s hard work (they only received access to the space on January 16) Whittaker and her business partner, Martin Farkas, have gotten their new project to just the right level of shabbiness.

This long, narrow bar (there are 28 seats) doesn’t just take its name from a song on the Black Flag album Damaged (“Thirsty and Miserable” is the sixth track); it also reflects the album’s black and red colour scheme in the decor. The ambience hearkens back to a grimier Kensington past, like a more grown-up Planet Kensington, which makes sense seeing as that punk rock haven inhabited this space for years (indeed, Whittaker’s old three-chord punk band Brutal Knight played their first show at Planet Kensington). In keeping with the musical theme, the walls are adorned with photos of venerable rock stars—Bowie, Blondie, Teenage Head—taken by Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet drummer Don Pyle.

The beer selection is constantly in flux, but a flattened cardboard box scrawled on with a Sharpie lists the selections, including Tripel Karmeliet ($8.50), Southern Tier IPA ($5.75) and Garrison Baltic Porter ($9.75). There are about 35 bottles on offer, most from Canada, the U.S. and Belgium. On draught, there are eight Canadian brews, like Spearhead ($6) and St. Ambroise Oatmeal Stout ($6). And while hard booze is also on offer, the selection is anaemic—this is first and foremost a beer bar. Oh, and should you need a little something to soak up that beer, there are five “gourmet” No Name–brand microwave meals to choose from, priced between $20 and $22. Like we said: stick to the beer.

Thirsty and Miserable, 197 Baldwin St., 647-60-0134,

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  • cindy

    Finally, a toronto food menu I can dig!!!!

  • Barry A. Martin

    Following in the Rhino’s footsteps with a menu that seems to be trying to accent the care for craft taken with the beer by disrespecting food. Hope it’s not a trend.
    I think we can do a lot more for craft beer by making it normal to want to eat with it.

  • john b

    they openly encourage and support you bringing in food from any of the wide variety of good options in Kensington Market. To have a kitchen they’d have to sacrifice space in an already small venue. And when there’s already so many great food options around you in the market, why compete unless you’re going to make it a focus.