Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Green Room Strikes Back

Last October, The Green Room, one of my favorite eclectic Annex haunts featuring mismatched furniture, cheap food and scuzzy beer, was shut down "for good" for violating numerous health codes. The stories of cockroach droppings and spoiled food didn't exactly surprise me: this is downtown Toronto, after all.

Hubby and I lamented the closure--it was the central gathering place for our friends on Friday and Saturday nights. Our first two dates were at the Green Room. We regularly craved their spicy Vietnamese noodle soup and greasy sandwiches. And we could always count on a hearty meal under $10. The washrooms were frequently out of order, forcing co-ed use of the men's stalls. The worn floors creaked, the tables were sticky. The lights were kept low, I imagine, to ensure no one could see just how disgusting the place actually was.

But it was home. And we missed it.

Well, like a roach from the ashes of nuclear holocaust, The Green Room has returned.

John and I spotted a Tweet saying the lights were on and someone appeared to be home. Sure enough, The Green Room reopened its doors on Friday, sporting working plumbing (as far as I can tell) in the bathrooms, and a brand-spanking-new tile floor on the lower level. The kitchen smelled antiseptically clean. Seriously. The fluorescent lighting inside that small space didn't leave any corner in shadow. Even the usually dingy lights of the bar seemed brighter.

The strings of Christmas lights were gone, as were the disembodied mannequin legs. But the familiar OCAD-esque paintings remained. It was the same old Green Room...but better. Cleaner.

For now.

Since it's still early in their resurrection, most of their menu was woefully unavailable, but the favorites were still listed. Happily, they've also added one of my faves from its sister restaurant the Red Room: fried tofu with special spicy BBQ sauce. The chicken wings were plump and juicy and--everyone asked me this, I swear--perfectly cooked. No chance of salmonella, I'm certain.

Another perennial favorite, vegetarian spring rolls, were perfectly hot, crisp, fresh, and the accompanying tangy dipping sauce rounded off the flavor nicely.

I should say here that I've never gotten sick at the Green Room. I know what I'm paying for when I go, and whether others choose to revisit the bar is entirely up to them. In any case, I happily welcome them back, and hope they've learned from their previous infractions and manage to stay open this time. Otherwise, where else will I get my spicy Vietnamese soup noodle fix?