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Mullins Irish Pub (Bay)

Mullins Bay Toronto

Mullins Irish Pub (website)
1033 Bay Street, Toronto ON M5S 3A5 (on the south-east corner of Bay Street and Irwin Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Bay Street and Wellesley Street West) 416-963-3000
Google Maps

A friendly spot for a pint.

Mullins on Bay is a little run-down (it looks like a 1980s basement with wood everywhere and it’s about the same size as one), but this doesn’t detract from the pub’s popularity with its regulars. In fact, the four-seater snug is named after one such regular who apparently spent many, many happy hours there. Mullins on Bay likely survives due to its location near UofT’s Victoria and St. Michael’s Colleges and being north on Bay Street close for its high-rolling workers. Given its clientele of students and professionals, and its rather homily appearance, Mullins on Bay is not the place for a first date (unless you don’t really think you’ll be getting a second one), but it is the type of place that you might meet an old friend or two for a pint after a hard day on the stock market or to celebrate getting a A+ on your history paper on why Henry Tudor had the Princes in the Tower, err… removed.

Mullins is one of a chain of pubs, with one on College Street and another on Kingston Road, so be sure to note which location you and your companions are meeting at.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a Saturday afternoon in August 2014
TTC information: a five-minute walk northwest from Wellesley Station or a six-minute walk south from Bay. You could try catching the Bay bus from Bay station, but given the traffic, you should probably walk
Booze selection: 10 on tap and 12 in bottles, as well as Magners cider, both original and pear (yes, they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: custom pizzas, they don’t have a deep fryer (the shame!) so everything is baked and basic. Apparently they also do catering, but it seems that everyone does these days
Service staff: friendly
Prices: not bad
Toilets: crowded with empties
Patio: to the north
Wheelchair accessible: too narrow
Televisions: three
Live music: Wednesdays
Piped-in music: Bryan Adams, Led Zeppelin, U2

Rating: three and half pints (out of five)


WVRST Toronto

WVRST (website)
609 King Street West, Toronto ON M5V 1M5 (on the south side of King Street West, just west of Portland Street, the nearest major intersection is King Street West and Bathurst Avenue) 416-703-7775
Google Maps 

WVRST is one of the best. 

We attempted to go to WVST during June’s Cider Week, but there was a huge line-up that weekday, so we went to the nearby Bier Markt instead. However, I wasn’t willing to give up on WVRST, so we returned in the middle of a weekday afternoon when my better half was off work and we had the place practically to ourselves. Some might argue that WVRST is not a pub, that it is a modern German-style beer hall, they might have a point, but, as I’ve written before, those people can set up their own blog about pubs and let me enjoy this treasure all by myself.

WVRST has a code of conduct outside and makes a big deal about when the tapes were last cleaned, which seems to be every second week. There are only communal tables and benches or backless stools, including one table that is sort of private with a low wall around it (there is a serious lack of hooks for coats and hats, which will make things crowded in the winter). It might not be the spot for a romantic date, but it is the spot to go to for beer and sausages.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, on a weekday afternoon in August 2014
TTC information:
take the King streetcar west from King Station (seven- to ten-minute journey — according to a very optimistic TTC itinerary)  or take Bathurst Streetcar south from Bathurst to King, which will take about 12 minutes and then walk east
Booze selection:
I counted 73 beers in bottles and 22 in casks, mainly Belgian (ah, Belgium, the land of beer) including lots of stouts and porters, as well as four ciders in bottles — Coffin Ridge, West Avenue, Southern Cliff, Spirit Tree — and four on tap, Hoity Toity , West Avenue, Twin Pines, and  a scrumpy (no Pimm’s)
Food selection:
sausages, sausages, sausages, including kangaroo and guinea fowl (there are vegetarian choices), with fries that can be fried in duck fat and dipping sauce. You order the meal at the back of the room and they bring it to you on a metallic tray with paper liners
Service staff:
two, but only two stalls in each, which means that there is probably a line-up on busy nights
Wheelchair accessible:
nope (as up several steps)
a drop-down screen for some sporting events
Live music:
Piped-in music:

Rating: four and a half pints (out of five) 

The Wallace Gastropub

Wallace Toronto

The Wallace Gastropub (website)
1954 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4S 1Z4 (on the west side, between Chaplin Crescent and Imperial Street) 416-489-3500
Google Maps 

Whatever the name, this is usually a good spot for a beer or two in Davisville.

Formerly the Twisted Kilt, which used to be the Bow and Arrow, the Wallace Gastropub has had several names over the years. We went to the Bow and Arrow a lot as they had sea salt and cracked pepper chicken wings, which were so good! However, we stopped going after a poor experience, then it became the Twisted Kilt, then the Tilted Kilt chain came to Canada and the pub was apparently offered a spot of cash to change its name (but not its telephone number), and thus the Wallace was born.

The seating is benches and movable chairs, most spots designed for couples or groups of four. Larger groups will be hard pressed to find seating without a reservation or good timing. If it’s the winter, you might not want to sit near the front door as the wind can whip in and chill you to the bone. However, you can sit near the fireplace in the raised area! The current décor is (fox) hunting scenes and other traditional pub paraphernalia. You can rent the upstairs room for private parties, which can comfortably fit 50 or so. I have rented this space several times over the years and it is a damn nice spot for you and 49 of your closest friends.

Number of visits by yours truly: forty or more visits, we used to live nearby and it was a nice walk home. Our most recent visit was on a Saturday night in August 2014
TTC information: just a minute walk or so north of Davisville Station
Booze selection: 20 or so beers, Waupoos cider and a number of wines (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: limited gastro selection with cloth napkins
Service staff: not bad
Prices: expensive
Toilets: not enough, only two downstairs in the ladies’ room. There was no soap in the ladies and “too much ice,” whatever that means, in the men’s (I can guess, but I prefer some mysteries to remain as to the male experience)
Patio: west-facing and very small
Wheelchair accessible: they have a step at the front and apparently a wooden ramp, but that’s not accessible if you are arriving by yourself and waiting for someone to let the pub know you want to come in
Televisions: several
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Beatles, Robert Plant, Queen

Rating: four pints (out of five) 

The Abbot on Eglinton

Abbot on Eglinton Toronto
The Abbot on Eglinton (website)

508 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto ON M5N 1A5 (on the north side, between Heddington Avenue and Castle Knock Road, the nearest major intersection is Avenue Road and Eglinton Avenue West) 416-487-8350
Google Maps

Forest Hill’s best place for a pint.

The Abbot on Eglinton has little competition, save the Queen’s Legs, which is a totally different type of pub, but this doesn’t mean that the pub doesn’t still try. True, there is limited seating and groups of five or more will be stuck having to go into the back, which is a restaurant, but if you are meeting just one other person, then the Abbot on Eglinton is your oyster. Plus the pub part of the Abbot on Eglinton is limited to those 16 years and older, which means it doesn’t suffer the same problem as its sister pub, the Abbot on Yonge.

The Abbot of Eglinton also goes for the gastropub vibe, with even a Globe & Mail article published about a lobster that was caught off Nova Scotia and ended up on the table of an Abbot on Eglinton diner. In keeping with the neighbourhood, the Abbot on Eglinton has its posher features and it’s not very relaxing in its atmosphere, but that said, were I still living in a tiny basement apartment in Forest Hill, this would have been a regular hangout for me, not just because they have a dish outside for thirsty dogs.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a weekday afternoon in August 2014, but not my last
TTC information: a 15-minute walk west of Eglinton Station. You can take the the Eglinton West bus, which drops you near the pub, but given the chronic congestion between Oriole and Avenue on Eglinton, I would walk if it’s near rush hour
Booze selection: a limited selection of about a dozen Canadian beers with Thornbury cider (yes, they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: traditional pub grub with catering available (the same as the Abbot on Yonge)
Service staff: good
Prices: not bad
Toilets: good, accessible toilet at the back
Patio: nope
Wheelchair accessible: yes, toilet at the back
Televisions: one
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: soothing Motown

Rating: four pints (out of five)

The Abbot on Yonge

Abbot on Yonge Toronto
The Abbot on Yonge (website)

3367 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4N 2M6 (on the east side, between Golfdale Road and Snowdon Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Yonge Street and Lawrence Avenue) 416-544-9074
Google Maps

A lovely place to spend an sunny afternoon.

The Abbot on Yonge is a lovely pub with hardwood floors, stained glass partions, and a variety of seating options with numerous booths, tables, and high chairs at the bar for you to choose from, making this an idea place for large groups.  This pub aspires to be a gastro-pub with cloth napkins and catering available and from what I ordered, eggs Benedict, it was delicious, however, according to a friend, the wings were horrible and there were only two options available.

Because the Abbot on Yonge is loud, due in part to its high ceiling, I found I was raising my voice more than I felt comfortable doing so. Unfortunately, the Abbot on Yonge is very child friendly, which is a drawback for yours truly as I don’t like ill-behaved children (which is most children) or their parents, all with their forked tongues, beady eyes, and twitching tails. The Abbott on Yonge has a sister pub on Eglinton, near Chaplin, and there used to be a pub called the Abbot on the Hill on Yonge near Summerhill which is now the Monk’s Table.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a weekend afternoon in August 2014, but not my last
TTC information: a nine-minute walk north of Lawrence Station or you could catch the Yonge bus, but if it’s not raining or snowing and you have only one bag, you are better off walking
Booze selection: 21 beers and a number of wines, and Somersby cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: traditional pub grub with catering available (see above for wings issue) 
Service staff: a little spotty, which seems to be a common online complaint
Prices: a little expensive
Toilets: not bad, but there are 10 different doors downstairs, so you might have to send a friend down with a ball of twine so they can return to the correct doorway 
Patio: nope
Wheelchair accessible: toilets are downstairs, so nope
Televisions: one
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: the only song I could make out due to the noise level was  Gloria Gaynor’s “I Feel Love”

Rating: four pints (out of five)

TorontoPubs’ Yonge and Eglinton Pub Crawl

Notes on this pub crawl: the walk (0.9 km) takes about 12 minutes in total. Keep in mind that the Rose and Crown turns into a dance club, so you might want to start there instead of ending there, Duke of York can get busy (but remember there is an upstairs), plus the Unicorn is full of pretty things, so you might have to skip that as you could have trouble getting a seat.

Notes on pub crawls in general: consider at least 45 minutes per pub visit and let your server know that you having just one drink and then moving on into the fizzy night so she/he knows that you’ll need your bill quickly. Pay by cash so you aren’t waiting for the credit card/debit machine and tip generously as you may be back one day for longer than just one drink. Check the pub’s website/Twitter in case they have an event that night. Also keep in mind the day and time, Saturday nights with the FIFA World Cup’s final on is not the best night for said pub crawl, but it is one of the best times to be in a pub.

The Rose and Crown (TorontoPubs review)
2335 Yonge Street

The Duke of Kent (TorontoPubs review)
2315 Yonge Street

Scruffy McMurphy’s Irish Pub (TorontoPubs review)
150 Eglinton Avenue East

The Unicorn (TorontoPubs review)
175 Eglinton Avenue East

The Granite Brewery (TorontoPubs review)
245 Eglinton Avenue East

Unfortunately, this pub crawl is not wheelchair accessible.

Indie Ale House

Indie Ale House Toronto

Indie Ale House (website)
2876 Dundas Street West, Toronto ON M6P 1Y9 (on the north side, the nearest major intersection is Keele Street and Dundas Street West) 416-760-9691
Google Maps 

Home of the happy hipster. 

I have a love-hate relationship with NOW Magazine’s annual Bar/Pub/Beer Guide. Some picks are great and sometimes they miss the mark completely. As a result, I am skeptical about their glowing endorsements and was prepared to be disappointed with the Indie Ale House, one of NOW’s top picks, and also given a good friend’s less-than-enthusiastic review of the place ([L]oud, pretentious, full of their own hype. And [she] hated the cider. They also told [her] companion that the tonic water they delivered was in fact the soda water he ordered). However, I was pleasantly surprised with the Indie Ale House, although I was the eldest and least fashionable person in the establishment and thus felt rather out of place. This is the home of the happy hipster and there were more beards, plaid tops, colourful trousers, and iPads visible than at a National’s concert or at an IKEA sale.

The Indie Ale House looks a bit like a cafeteria with too many tables (which means you can hear your neighbours’s conversations) and it sounds a bit like one too. There was wood everywhere, except for the exposed brick wall and tin ceiling, and from where I was sitting I could see the beer vats. The Indie Ale House only takes reservations for large groups (and they go on and on about this on their website) and they also only present one bill for said group. They were getting their knickers in a twist (the page with this rant is now only available as a now unavailable cached version) about the name, the pub is called Indie Ale House with three words, but their Facebook, Twitter, and Instragram accounts all say the Indie Alehouse. If they can’t be consistent, then they shouldn’t grumble when others aren’t.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, on a weekday afternoon in July 2014, but not my last
TTC information: take the Dundas West (Junction) bus north from Dundas West Station (seven-minute journey)
Booze selection: 11 craft beers that night, which change often, the cider they had then was Spirit Tree (I write that as I expect they change it often). No Pimm’s
Food selection: limited menu, but large servings
Service staff: not bad, but it seems that we might have been lucky
Prices: good for portions
Toilets: decent
Patio: nope
Wheelchair accessible: appears to be
Televisions: two tiny screens, not on
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Indie 88.1 (of course)

Rating: four and a half pints (out of five) 

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