I actually met someone on a business meeting at Boxcar. It was his suggestion and I was sold within my first moments of reading about the place.
The area is actually quite lovely for a weekend stroll. Boxcar Social was filled with a humming crowd on this sunny Sunday afternoon. Their unique, illustrated logo did not grab too much attention but rather blend in with the neighbourhood. Boxcar's lot was narrow, perhaps maybe to resemble an actual boxcar. Off the street, the exterior consisted of tall windows with black frames and their rectangular sign. For those who would like to make a bold shoe or sock statement, your preferred spot should be on the high chairs by the window - you will find yourself slightly elevated so bypasses would have a clear view of your original outfit choice plus you get plenty of lighting on display. The seats are also something to be mindful of if you are wearing a mini skirt.
We climbed a few stairs and entered. If it wasn't for the long line of people, we wouldn't have known which way to go. As we stood stood behind a few ladies at their bar stools, we got to to eavesdrop on their conversation. They were quite aware of us listening, but everyone seemed to be up and close in each others' space, anyway.
We read their long, packed blackboards which were organically edged on the brick wall. The categories included Scotch, Bourbon, Beer, Wine as well as Coffee and Other Stuff. Our waiting space was under a ceiling with exposed black pipes and simple light bulbs with cables messily twisted around them. Lights near the back kept the prominence of their black wire, but were on a stage series circuit and created a wave pattern. The arrangement seemed to be hastily put together, without too much thinking about the effect on the design.
It took a while to get to order. The two baristas were not in a particular rush. They were very committed to the task, definitely not about servicing quantity but showing quality in their craft. The payment system was also a tad slow. Either way, we asked for their Mocha and Americano. As we payed, we realized that there was a door leading to their second floor right by the payment area. Quite the high traffic zone there, just in case one started feeling too cozy with the amount of personal space available.
The stairs themselves were long, steep and smallish - something you could expect from this old Victorian house. The upstairs area was so tight that one would have to make sure there was no ongoing traffic coming before endeavouring upon the climb. It was worth overall, even the air felt lighter there. The space felt very familiar to me. I brought me back in time to my university room-mates rental house - narrow, with stripped down white walls and experimental art hanging with no particular intention of permanence. The beaten up wooden floor and random furniture also added to the deja vu, but the best parts of the entire restaurant were the unique vintage objects: a large wooden radio, a dusty kodak camera by the wall and beautiful shelves made of chunks of wood supported by twisted pipes.
I enjoyed my Mocha at the "shoe display" area facing Yonge, I strongly considered the patio, but I was not brave enough as it was still brisk outside. The Mocha was lovely - with slightly sweet dark chocolate and the perfect amount of froth. The ambiance of Boxcart Social was truly amazing. This place seemed to be thrown together like a boxcar and the fellow freight hoppers really added to the vibrant mood. It was an ideal place for a a consultation on my city building project.
Cheri picked a spot upstairs on one of their cushioned sofas by the old radio, and undoubtedly submerged in the atmosphere there as well.
In retrospect we probably should have gone for their Featured Coffee Flight or tried a few of their unique coffee blends which had very promising taste notes.
We will definitely be back to try out the evening ambiance with less virgin of drinks, like their exciting Whisky Tango.