When I mentioned to a friend that I would be visiting Toronto she asked if I was going to check out the Harry Potter-themed bar. Obviously, I couldn't resist the opportunity to down a magical pint (non-alcoholic of course!) in what could only be a cozy, wizardly nook chock-full of colourful elixirs and mystifying morsels. Unfortunately, the bar – aptly named The Lockhart, after the deceptive Professor – didn't live up to my HP standards.
We arrived 15 minutes before the bar opened, and there were already a handful of muggles gathered about in anticipation. An entrance line was not yet cordoned off so many people started to nudge their way toward the door, cutting in front of one another. The staff eventually marked off an entry line with a giant fiery pillar but by then many people had lost their spot in line, some of whom ended up waiting 30-45 minutes just to get a seat. It was a disorganized, and thus disappointing, start...though the flaming pillar was a nice touch (it both looked cool AND warmed those of us waiting in line)
We were lucky to get a table when they opened as the bar is rather small, much more cramped than cozy. Now, I don't know about you, but when I think of Harry Potter I think of fireplaces and bookshelves, maybe even comfy chairs or chandeliers...something to make the atmosphere unique, bordering on magical. This is where The Lockhart fell miles short.
Understandably, they can only do so much without infringing on the legal copyright of H. Potter, but having bookshelves or a fireplace or a cozy, quieter bar is something easily achievable. Playing loud 90's music, while enjoyable, is hardly fitting for a HP atmosphere. Beyond the handful of both subtle and obscure references there was almost nothing to really illustrate it was, in fact, a Harry Potter themed bar. Sure, a few drinks had HP references, but there were also many generic names and even one Star Trek reference...which is awesome but not what one expects. Now, I have read that the owners wanted the bar to appeal to both HP fans and regular folks, and it certainly does do that but at the expense of the HP theme. So much so that one cannot really call this a Harry Potter bar as much as it is a bar owned by Harry Potter fans.
Overall, if you're a HP superfan you will likely clue into the easter eggs hidden about and enjoy the experience, but for most people this will just seem like a normal, modern bar. Don't get me wrong, I had a good time – the staff were friendly and my ginger beer was delicious (albeit strong). We got there early enough that we didn't have to wait in line, and the service was fast. It was a decent bar, to be sure, if you like loud music and booze...but it's a stretch to consider The Lockhart a Harry Potter-themed bar.