Ben Stiller annoys a lot of people. That said, he has a decent track record when it comes to box office grosses, primarily driven by three successful trilogies; the Fockers, Madagascar and the Museum movies. In addition, one cannot forget his washroom scene in the very successful “There’s Something About Mary”. Ironically, despite being cited as the leader of the brat pack, movies in which he has starred alongside his partners (Jack Black, Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughan, Owen and Luke Wilson and Steve Carell) have been less successful than other Stiller franchises although not total disasters.
The Night at the Museum film series had worldwide appeal. Based on a children’s book, the cast led by Stiller was multi-generational, ranging from the likes of Dick Van Dyke and Mickey Rooney to the late Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt right down to Rami Malek (now of the critically acclaimed Mr. Robot) and that creepy kid from the Vacation remake. The three movies over eight years produced diminishing returns despite bigger budgets although all three could still be considered good return on investments if you looks at the global ticket returns.
Speaking of museums, as anybody hailing from the Toronto knows, it is a city that will not be outdone. Instead of hoping for living reincarnations of a tattooed Atilla the Hun, local hipsters may be intrigued to drop in to the tattoo exhibit which is now showing at the Royal Ontario Museum. I’m more into bourbon than body art, so after I finished up a conference along Bloor Street and had a couple of hours to kill before dinner so instead of the ROM, I visited another museum, in this case the tavern across the road to indulge in their advertised happy hour. In addition to buck a shuck oysters, one can indulge in a barrel aged cocktail for $11 vs the normal $15 charge ( although when I got the bill I was charged $15).
Choosing between a manhattan, old-fashioned, negroni and sazarac is like choosing which child I love the best. Alright, maybe not quite but it’s a difficult task nonetheless. In this case I opted for the first two. A couple of ounces of both were smartly presented in a funky highball which housed a thick base of ice instead of a floating ice cube. The booze itself was smooth, sleek and balanced.
The oysters were fresh and served with a tasty mignonette which I downed them with the aforementioned barrel aged old fashioned.
The Musuem tavern does represent a historical era in the fact that is has that speakeasy feel. From the decor to the glassware, it screams the 1920s. The menu is more modern pub fare with what appears to influenced by a bit of everything.
Since I was grabbing dinner later, I stuck with starters and opted for the fried chicken ($14) and creole crab cakes ($16). If my intent was to span the spectrum of available snacks I think I succeeded. The four pieces was a hearty serving of chicken which was crispier than greasy , well-seasoned and far from dry. The crab cakes, on the other hand, can better be described at crab balls. The dainty, bite sized morsels didn’t lack in flavour what they lacked in size. Although they were moist, heavy on the crab and served with a decent remoulade., it hardly justified eight bucks a bite…even with pickled onions.
Viewing history is no longer the exclusive role of a museum. Many restaurants are now setting up shop with the promise of rewinding the clocks back to the days of prohibition. The aptly named Museum tavern is no exception and comes complete with swanky decor and a old-school barrel aged cocktail list. In the end, it had its stars and a decent plot….or at least the trailer (aka. happy hour) suggested so. The question will be whether the theme resonates past Toronto’s prohibition phase or whether a day at this museum turns out like Ben’s Night at the Museum and overstays its welcome.