Mullins Irish Pub
537 College Street, Toronto ON M6G 1A9 (on the south-west corner of College Street and Euclid Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Bathurst Street and College Street) 416-972-6859
Decent little pub in the heart of Little Italy.
The evening in question had started with my faithful pub companion and me deciding upon the Monarch Tavern as the scene of our next adventure. However, that plan crashed and burned after we went inside said tavern — after first trying the fake front door — and taking in the (lack of ) atmosphere of the upstairs bar, a too-loud radio station blared away and a number of people standing around with the only light being cast from neon drink advertisements. It was truly a tavern. So we fell outside into the fizzy night and came across Mullins. The evening improved dramatically (in part because our friend joined us there).
Mullins is one of a chain of pubs, so be sure to note which location you and your companions are meeting at. This location on College has only been around for a few years, it doesn’t have a website and barely has a web presence (they have a Twitter feed that is deader than disco). This Mullins is rather small, it is not pretentious and it has a number of regulars. Towards the end of the evening, it filled up quite a lot with customers considering what a bitter night it was outside. It has a snug made for about seven made from old doors. There is also a rather large party room at the back.
Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, on a Saturday night in January 2014
TTC information: a six-minute ride south from Bathurst Station or take the College streetcar from College Station, which will drop you after a 12-minute ride at Euclid
Booze selection: dozen or so beers, including Foundry and Magners cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard offerings – nachos with chorizo and mac and cheese
Service staff: very good
Prices: good, the Amsterdam beers were $5 each that night
Toilets: nice, but a little stinky with that distinctive basement smell
Patio: east-facing and rather small
Wheelchair accessible: not really as the toilets are in the basement
Live music: Wednesdays
Piped-in music: music appeared to be on a loop as we heard the same songs (Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, Phil Collins) over and over
Rating: four pints (out of five)
Wylie’s Pub (website)
1234A Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4T 1W3 (on the west side of Yonge, between Walker Avenue and Alcorn Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Yonge and St. Clair) 416-920-9063
Claiming to be a pub does not necessarily mean that one is a pub. (I have attempted this myself and it did not work.)
Wylie’s had a number of regulars, who were likely there for the weekend brunch on the afternoon in question. There were leather seats, lots of dark wood, grey walls, and lots of wine bottles, modern paintings for sale, as well as a convex mirror in our little corner of the pub. The establishment was loud, too loud. Apparently there is a private party room downstairs and is open until two every night.
However, I must admit that, drawing from my vast pubbing experience, Wylie’s is not a pub. A restaurant, perhaps a bar, but not a pub.
Number of visits by yours truly: my first in early January 2014
TTC information: a three-minute walk north of Summerhill station
Booze selection: about 20 beers or so, with 12 on tap, along with Thornbury and Strongbow ciders. Yes, they have Pimm’s
Food selection: Indian focus with lots of typos on the menu (spies instead of spices, but what do you expect from a place with a backwards S in its name). My dish was overly spiced and I could not finish it. Unfortunately, I later regretted my choice of meal and we will leave it at that
Service staff: spotty — as in his attention, not his appearance. It seems that I am not alone in my assessment as other online reviewers have noticed the lack of attentiveness
Prices: not bad
Toilets: clean, but nothing fundamental done to them since the 1970s, rather cramped
Wheelchair accessible: nope, there is a step at the front. However, the website states that it is wheelchair accessible
Live music: no
Piped-in music: Arcade Fire
Rating: three and a half pints (out of five)
The Monk’s Hearth (website)
2097 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4S 2A4 (on the east side of Yonge, between Hillsdale Avenue East and Manor Road, the nearest major intersection is Yonge and Eglinton) 416-920-9074 (the same as the Monk’s Table)
If you love the Monk’s Table, but not its location, then consider the Monk Hearth instead.
Owned by the same people who operate the Monk Table’s Pub, which is just down the hill, the Monk’s Hearth seems to be suffering from growing pains. On the night in question, which was only a month or so after the pub opened, the chef was late so we had to wait to place our food order and, according to a friend, a few weeks after our visit, the pub was closed due to problems in the kitchen. The website for the Monk’s Hearth is bare bones with just menus and drinks, there’s no telephone number (which is the same as the Monk’s Table), map, email address, or photos of the pub. Even their Facebook page is minimal with no photos and just 16 likes (as of the time of publishing this post).
When we arrived at the Monk’s Hearth, we were the only people there, which seemed a bit odd for a Saturday evening, but by the end of the night the pub was quite full. There is an upstairs, which might be reservable, and a large organ behind the bar (not a euphemism). There are converted sewing tables in the front for people to sit at. Like the Monk’s Table, the Monk’s Hearth is rather dark. When all is typed and done, I will go back to the Monk’s Hearth as they have a good selection of beers.
Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, in mid-November 2013
TTC information: equidistant between Eglinton and Davisville stations. Don’t bother waiting for the Yonge bus, I have wasted many hours waiting for that one
Booze selection: more than 20 beers, with lots of European beers on offer, lots of Scotches, two ciders — Somersby and Sir William Perry’s Pear (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: limited selection and small portions. On the night in question the chef was late and we had to wait a while to place our orders
Service staff: good, but slow
Toilets: good and clean. One has to be sober enough to remember that men are foxes and women are vixens
Wheelchair accessible: no
Live music: I doubt it
Piped-in music: Mr. Bowie/Grateful Dead/Rolling Stones/Queen
Rating: four pints (out of five)
The place to go if you’re in the mood for something Scottish, unless it’s your birthday.
Claiming to be the only authentic Scottish pub in Toronto, which I dispute as McGugan’s seems pretty Scottish to me, the Caledonian is a nice pub. It’s got wooden tables that can be moved, pictures of Scotland, and a fireplace in the back of the pub. The night we were there, there was a barrel-making demonstration on the patio, which was quite interesting.
My drinking companion of choice enjoyed the pub, while I beg to differ for the following reasons: why should you not go to the Caledonian for birthdays, you ask? Well, at the next table on the night in question, someone was celebrating a birthday and they started singing “Happy birthday.” We decided to join in and sing along. Anyway, our waitress, who turned out to be the owner, appeared moments after the song ended and hissed that she did not want us to encourage that type of behaviour. I kid you not. Later that evening, when another table on the other side of us celebrated a birthday we just sat there quietly. In addition, when we arrived, a man was letting his young child push around a chair and at one point the child’s dummy/soother (what a misnomer!)/pacifier fell on the floor, I pointed this out and the man just growled that he knew, picked it up, and sulked. Sigh.
UPDATE: We returned to the scene of the crime last night and we had the same server again, who was in a much better mood. I will return.
I will go back to the Caledonian, but not for anyone’s birthday. The pub is sometimes closed for private functions.
Number of visits by yours truly: first, but not last, visit on a weekend evening in November 2013
TTC information: a three-minute ride south from Ossington Station or take the College streetcar from College Station, which will drop you after a 15-minute ride at Ossington
Booze selection: 10 beers or so, Magners cider (no Pimm’s), but lots and lots of whiskies
Food selection: Scottish (surprise, surprise) with several haggis dishes, scotch eggs, Irn-Bru, and deep-fried Mars bars (the menu is online)
Service staff: our waitress was highly stressed, but quick most of the time, see above
Toilets: the ladies’ toilets are in independent stalls and there was a lack of waste baskets
Patio: north and in a courtyard, so the noise gets trapped, but it looked nice
Wheelchair accessible: nope as the toilets are downstairs
Televisions: one in front
Live music: sometimes
Piped-in music: couldn’t make it out
Rating: four and half pints (out of five)
The Hole in the Wall
2867 Dundas Street West, Toronto ON M6P 1Y9 (on the south side, next to Post and Beam Architectural Reclamation, the nearest major intersection is Keele Street and Dundas Street West) 647-350-3564
The place to go for craft beers in the Junction.
The first time I attempted with my partner in crime to go to the Hole in the Wall, the pub had paper on the door glass and it wasn’t open, so I think it was either about to open or was undergoing renovations. We ended up going to the nearby Axis Bar and Grill, and if you have the choice, you should go here instead. Apparently the pub did undergo renovations recently, however you can’t really tell, it is really a hole in the wall, so kudos for being honest about the name.
The Hole in the Wall is very loud due to the wooden floors and tall ceiling, even at brunch time, so I dread to think what it’s like when they have their live music five nights a week. The pub is very narrow and you will likely walk by it twice before you finally locate it. One of my dining companions said that the pub is built in an old alleyway, hence its odd shape, location, and exposed brick walls. Despite this, the pub is bright due to its skylight. Groups larger than four will have a tough time finding suitable seating, so go with three of your closest drinking companions and enjoy yourselves.
Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a Sunday afternoon in late September 2013, but not my last
TTC information: take the Dundas West (Junction) bus north from Dundas West Station (seven-minute journey)
Booze selection: dozen or so craft beers, which change often, not including Strongbow, Wapoos, Sir Perry, Magners ciders. Yes, they have Pimm’s
Food selection: we were there for brunch, so we only got that menu, which was pretty good
Service staff: good
Prices: not bad
Toilets: two unisex toilets, one was acceptable, one wasn’t
Wheelchair accessible: sort of, the toilets are on the ground floor, but I would be hesitant to recommend this as wheelchair accessible
Live music: five nights a week
Piped-in music: Arcade Fire, Neil Young, Billy Joel, Counting Crows (!)
Rating: four and a half pints (out of five)
More proof that competition is good!
Cam’s Place is a tiny pub on Yonge Street between Eglinton Avenue and Lawrence Avenue, which has no nearby competition, from what I can tell. However, like other Toronto pubs that take advantage of being the only choice for locals — and it did seem that my waitress knew nearly everyone who walked in — Cam’s Place makes little effort to cater to its customers.
The toilets were appalling and I went early in the day when I did my review, so I think the toilets were bad from the night or weekend before. Groups larger than six will have to go upstairs at Cam’s Place as there is no suitable seating downstairs and the room can be reserved for events. Downstairs, there are booths and tables. Basically, Cam’s Place doesn’t make an effort for its customers and you shouldn’t make the effort to go there.
(The picture, just so you know, was taken at eight in the morning on a Saturday, so that’s why the pub looks like that.)
Number of visits by yours truly: two or three visits, most recently on a weekday evening in September 2013
TTC information: according to Google Maps, the pub is exactly one kilometre north from Eglinton and one kilometre south from Lawrence, so 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. You can hear the subway rumble underneath the pub
Booze selection: 20 beers, a number of martinis, and four ciders — Blackthorn, Magners, Magners Pear, Strongbow (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: limited menu, the onion rings were very spicy, almost too spicy (I nearly complained)
Service staff: the service is often slow after the initial enthusiasm
Prices: not bad
Toilets: the most disgusting I have seen in a long while and I think I go out more than the average person (and certainly more than most parents)
Patio: tiny and on the street, but the pub has an up-and-over door
Wheelchair accessible: not really as the entrance is so tight
Televisions: three downstairs
Live music: comedy last Friday of every month and live music occasionally
Piped-in music: Queen, Beatles
Rating: three pints (out of five)
I have an uneasy relationship with Pauper’s and it’s not just because they can’t decide if they have an apostrophe in the name. I first heard of Pauper’s (I choose the apostrophe) back in the ’90s, as it was the destination of choice for my better half’s colleagues. Over the years, I had my own invitations as the pub is centrally located, has darts, lots of space (but fixed seating), and a decent enough selection of beers. The pub is quite large with two floors, a rooftop patio, as well as a ground-floor patio. Like many pubs in Toronto, it used to be a bank, so it has high ceilings and the vault is now actually a snug. However, I have twice received poor, or, to be more accurate, no service at Pauper’s. Both times, the couples to the north and south of us were served, but we appeared to be in a no-man’s land. The first time this happened we left after nearly passing out due to dehydration. The second time I walked up to the bar and ordered a drink for myself and my companion, which I paid for there and took back to my seat, consumed, and then left immediately afterwards.
Having reviewed more than 100 pubs, I went back to Pauper’s recently to see if we could break the curse and review somewhere new for the blog. We were surprised to be served and also served well. However, they only reason we went was to give it a third chance. Ironically, we also went to the Only Cafe that same day to see if their service had improved and it was just as bad (see my Sarah’s review for details). That said, I would recommend the nearby Victory Cafe instead as I don’t know if it was a glitch in Pauper’s system.
Number of visits by yours truly: half a dozen visits, most recently on a weekend in September 2013
TTC information: about three minutes from Bathurst Station
Booze selection: 40 beers including Somersby, Strongbow, and Magners ciders (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: very standard pub grub
Service staff: good, for once (see above)
Prices: cheap for beer
Toilets: cramped and downstairs. The stairs are very steep, so watch yourself after a couple of drinks
Patio: east-facing and a rooftop patio
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Televisions: at least four in our section
Live music: open mike and live music on some night. See the website for deails
Piped-in music: all ’80s including the Spoons’ “Nova Heart” and Michael Sembello’s “Maniac”
Rating: three pints (out of five)