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The Reservoir Lounge

Web Site:   The Reservoir Lounge

Location:  Lower level, 52 Wellington Street East, Toronto 

Reservations:  416-955-0887 

Link to:  map

Notes (April 2010 by Bruce Hanson

What to Expect

When you think “jazz bar”, no doubt certain images fill your head.  The Reservoir lounge is likely to fit those images. The nondescript, almost hidden entrance across from the Flatiron building, and the equally plain stairs, give no hint at what lies inside - which would be everything you would want in a jazz bar - without the smoke.  Small intimate tables run along the bare brick walls. There is a very private alcove off the small dance floor. A small area with four bar stools stands on the opposite side of the dance floor with a view of the stage.  A standup bar is at the far end of the room.    

Dinner is not required, but you may want to treat yourself anyway. You won’t be disappointed with the gourmet flatbread “pizzas”. If you book dinner and and want to see the band as well as hear the music, ask for a table in front of the band or against the opposite wall with a view.  Be warned that on Friday and Saturday nights, the place gets packed, so, after the first set, your view may be obstructed. This may force you to get up on your feet and move to the music like the rest of the crowd. 

The Music

Swing, Jump Blues and Boogie Woogie - mostly.

Late shows

Monday through Thursday and Saturday nights fit that description with a lineup of some of Toronto’s top jazz musicians and vocalists. Fridays currently feature R&B with a focus on the 60’s.  Sundays feature a variety of music.  Music starts at 9:45 pm except for Sundays which begin at 9:00.

Early Shows

On Tuesday and Wednesdays there is an early show at 7:00 pm. featuring both established and emerging artists. Don’t let “emerging” fool you, the talent is always top notch. Musically, the sounds can venture out towards contemporary jazz.


I don’t know of any other venue that has this caliber and genre of jazz, night after night. This is a gem in Toronto.

In addition, if you swing dance, or enjoy watching experienced dancers, Wednesday night is a favourite “night-out” for Toronto’s swing dance community. (Don’t confuse this with ballroom.) Come join in the fun.  

What to Wear and Who Wears it

Toronto is notorious for being casual. The Reservoir tends to be a step up from Toronto’s norm, without being too fancy. Although anything goes, you will rarely see jeans. Some women will dress more fashionably and some men will wear a sport jacket, sometimes a tie.  

You will find a pretty even mix of ages from 20’s to 60’s as well as singles, couples, and parties of four or more.   

How to Get There and Where to Park

It’s only a 5 to 10 minute walk from Union station or the King and Yonge subway.

If you drive, there is metered parking on the street, free after 9:00 pm.  Parking spaces can be a little more challenging to find on Friday and Saturday nights, but turn north on one of the sides streets running off Wellington and you are likely to find something within a five minute walk. 


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