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Monk’s Kettle

Monks Kettle Toronto

The Monk’s Kettle (website)
3073 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M8X 2B5 (on the south side, just west of Brentwood Road South, the nearest major intersection is Bloor Street West and Royal York Road) 416-348-4848
Google Maps

Craft beer mecca for those thirsty in Bloor West Village.

I discovered the Monk’s Kettle last month while visiting another pub as the Henry VIII Ale House is across the street and I went there and noticed its competition. (I didn’t do a review of the Henry VIII at that time, but one will be done eventually.) Anyway, as my regular drinking companion and I were in the west end recently, we thought the Monk’s Kettle would be a nice place to visit.

The Monk’s Kettle is rather small, full of dark wood, and has sparsely covered walls, but then again I am a fan of the Sir John Soane decorating method. There are lovely lighting fixtures in the front and there are a variety of seating options available with benches, high chairs, and regular seating. The pub, from what I can gather, has been around for about three years and still looks new. By the time we left, which was late afternoon, the pub was quite full.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, on a Saturday afternoon in November 2014
TTC information: a four-minute walk west of Royal York Station
Booze selection: 17 craft beers on tap and a number of imported beers in bottles, as well as Thornberry cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: a bit limited, but you are there for the beer
Service staff: attentive and friendly, although a number of people have complained about the service in on-line reviews. When we indicated that we wanted a second drink, our waiter suggested a local beer (Black Oak Epiphany No. 1) which we both went for after trying the sample, we were warned about the alcohol content, which was high, but as we weren’t driving, it didn’t matter
Prices: beer is cheap, food not so much, but I prefer it that way
Toilets: lock in one stall doesn’t work (a simple five-minute fix would solve that) but tidy enough
Patio: windows fold out
Wheelchair accessible: no as toilet downstairs and doorway has a small step and is too tight to manoeuvre
Televisions: one over the bar
Live music: not likely as there’s no room
Piped-in music: the Beta Band, Arcade Fire, Pixies, Daft Punk, Velvet Underground, Echo and the Bunnymen

Rating: four pints (out of five) 

The Three Brewers

Three Brewers Yonge Toronto

The Three Brewers (website)
275 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M5B 1N8 (on the east side, just south of Dundas Square and north of Shuter Street, the nearest major intersection is Yonge Street and Dundas Street) 647-347-6286
Google Maps

The spot for a beer after exhausting the delights of the Eaton Centre.

This Three Brewers pub and microbrewery is apparently the Toronto flagship for the international chain with another three Toronto locations opening “soon”. This one is across the way from the Eaton Centre, and as such the pub appeared to be full of tourists and Ryerson student starting early on their extracurricular credits. My friend and I were in a booth, with a foot rail (!), but there were a number of tables and chairs available that were dragged into various configurations as the afternoon in question wound down. The pub itself features large brewing vats near the entrance and is cavernous with various floors and open rooms for cozier dining for couples and for larger groups. One could get lost in here if not careful or sober!

The Three Brewers is perhaps not the best place to go to before a show at the nearby Ed Mirvish Theatre (formerly the Pantages, Imperial, and later the Canon) as the service was little slow. I am apparently not the only one who noticed this, and timing is everything in show business! They might want to iron out a few kinks — with a larger beer selection and better service — before attempting to take over Toronto.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a weekday afternoon in September 2014
TTC information: just a minute’s walk south of Dundas Station
Booze selection: five beers with rather boring names — white, blonde, IPA, amber, and dark (let’s see, they could have gone with Scary, Posh, Ginger, Baby, and Sporty or Julian, Dick, Anne, George, and Timmy, or vision, smell, touch, taste, and hearing) and a monthly specialty beer. No cider and no Pimm’s
Food selection: decent enough selections with suggested beer pairings
Service staff: a little slow, but polite (the slowness is noticed by a number of online reviewers)
Prices: expensive
Toilets: in decent shape, but plan ahead as it’s a bit of an odyssey and follow the yellow dots
Patio: nope, but the windows open wide for that lovely second-hand smoke and truck exhaust flavour wafting off Yonge Street
Wheelchair accessible: negative, as toilets are upstairs
Televisions: nine at least!
Live music: nay
Piped-in music: Céline Dion, Tina Turner, Katy Perry, The Cranberries

Rating: three and half pints (out of five)

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

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:
friendly
Prices:
 expensive
Toilets:
two, but only two stalls in each, which means that there is probably a line-up on busy nights
Patio:
nope
Wheelchair accessible:
nope (as up several steps)
Televisions:
a drop-down screen for some sporting events
Live music:
 nope
Piped-in music:
modern

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)

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