How does one review Mount Royal Tavern? WHAT does one review? Is there a rating system that even exists that could adequately grade the entirety of this place? I gave it 5 stars, but only because Yelp doesn't seem to want to allow me to leave that space blank, which is really what Mount Royal Tavern will leave you feeling when you leave. Blank. Not in a cleansed hot yoga, "Hey, I've been to a Buddhist retreat and found nirvana" sort of way. No. It's more like an E.M. Forster A PASSAGE TO INDIA, "Hey I looked into the abyss of life and feel it's all fruitless and what's about to follow just shows how all humans are shallow creatures" sort of blankness. Yeah... Anyway, there is no adequate way to review the drinks (booze, booze, and more booze abounds here). They're fine. Affordable Generously poured. That's cool, but they're really just a way of unlocking your inhibitions of staying in this sketchy little Wonderville of Humanity. The decor has gotten better over the years. I think they renovated a while back. Still, it's sometimes too dim in here to notice. Frankly, they could have painted the walls electric neon pink and I wouldn't have seen any difference. The way Mount Royal Tavern etched its way into my brain was as the place where I found out that some of my friends used cocaine on a fairly regular basis during the mid '00s. I'll refrain from using names, so I can tell you my friend "The Greek" was here to meet with a guy. "The Guy" approached us, walking with a noticeably painful limp, and an equally noticeable neck brace. However, it was the fact that we could SMELL The Guy before we saw him that was amazing. The fact that we could smell him above the piss smell emanating from the men's room, which occasionally manages to drift over the inner sanctum of the Tavern, was even more amazing. Amazement abounded. The Greek and The Guy exchanged a few words and then spoke some magical indecipherable phrases that seemed to mean, "Follow me out the back, here." They disappeared and I commented to another friend that The Guy looked sketchy. My friend said, "Ah, he's not so bad. He was just running away from some cops, threw himself off a bridge to escape from them, and got hurt in the process. I think he's out on bail, or probation, or something." He and everyone else in our group seemed to know him...and were ok with all of this information. I suddenly felt like Mrs. Moore in the Marabar Caves. The claustrophobia, the darkness, the smell... I looked into my own abyss and saw that...I was a square. The horror. The Greek and The Guy came back with happy looks on their faces, and seemed to have exchanged misshapen lumps in their pockets. I was staring blankly at the ground. The Greek told me to relax. We stuck around for a while and everyone got drunk, sometimes taking turns to go in the back with The Greek. I stared at the walls contemplating the meaning of life and why I had watched all of those anti-drug PSAs on TV as a kid. Kirk Cameron came to mind from "A Very Special Episode of GROWING PAINS." Was this a special episode? No, it was life. "This is unbearable," I thought, "How unhappy I am!' and then I became happier. My shock and terror were my prison and my release. I decided to have another drink and just slip into Mount Royal Tavern's life that night. I've slipped into it since then, but not in the same way as that first time. Things have changed. The Tavern got cleaned up. My friends all got married, and some have kids. I try to be kinder to myself, and excuse my mistakes, realize my limitations and such. Life is not easy as we know it on the earth...but it is easier in the Tavern...if one knows how to look into its abyss and then into one's own self without judgment.
Mark K. on Jul 17, 2014