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Henry VIII Ale House (Kingsway)

Henry VIII Pub Toronto

Henry VIII Ale House — Kingsway (website)
3078 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M8X 1C8 (on the north side, just west of Brentwood Road North, the nearest major intersection is Bloor Street West and Royal York Road) 416-237-1444
Google Maps

Traditional pub on Bloor West.

One of the smallest pubs in Toronto, the Henry VIII Ale House — Kingsway is one of two pubs with that same name within a 30-minute walk (just two subways stops or five-minute drive away) on the same road. Both pubs are owned by the same people. The pubs’ website is a little confusing as to the differences between the two and sometimes fails to mention that there are actually two pubs with the same name. Example: “Welcome to Henry VIII Ale House, Toronto West’s best kept secret. Our exciting, comfortable and charming space is a place to escape to at any time of the day to relax.” Shouldn’t this be pluralized? Named after one England’s nastiest monarchs (responsible for two divorces/annulments and two wives executed, the execution of a 67-year-old woman, the destruction of great chief ministers, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, etc.,), perhaps the owners of the Henry VIII Ale House — Kingsway should have done a little research beforehand and named the pub after Charles II, often known as the Merry Monarch, instead of going with name recognition.

The Henry VIII Ale House — Kingsway’s deep red walls were covered in images of Henry VIII, including a poster from The Tudors mini-series. On the day of my latest visit, I was there for lunch with a friend and the pub was full at one point and very noisy. The waitress ignored us for several minutes, long enough for me to change my mind from ordering a second pint to just asking for the bill. I would recommend the Monk’s Kettle across the street instead.

Number of visits by yours truly: my third or fourth visit, most recently on a weekday afternoon in April 2015
TTC information: a four-minute walk west of Royal York Station
Booze selection: 17 beers including Cornish Orchards cider (they have “seasonal” Pimm’s). They also have lots of scotches and whiskeys
Food selection: traditional pub grub including one of my favourites, steak pie and Stilton
Service staff: poor service
Prices: expensive
Toilets: cleanish
Patio: no
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: one
Live music: on Tuesdays
Piped-in music: jazz

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

Local 1794

Local 1794 Toronto

Local 1794 (website)
1794 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4C 1H8 (on the north side, between Woodington Avenue and Glebemount Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Coxwell Avenue and Danforth Avenue) 416-463-1794
Google Maps 

Proof that someone reads my blog and also knows that East Danforth needs more good pubs! 

Local 1794, apparently owned by the former proprietors of nearby Taps & Tales, opened earlier this year in January in an area that is now filling with pubs (Wren, Morgans, the Borough, and Sarah’s). I am personally delighted as this part of Toronto has been crying out for more pubs for a decade or more.

Local 1794 features a long wooden bar with seating for about 20 people and the booths have their own electrical outlets and Apple ports. There is also regular table seating and elevated bench and high top tables. The walls feature a suspended fireplace at the back and large old black-and-white pictures of Toronto. There is an area at the back of Local 1794 that can be reserved for larger groups.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last on a weekday afternoon in April 2015
TTC information: equidistant between Coxwell and Woodbine stations, a five-minute walk east from the former and a six-minute walk from the latter
Booze selection: more than 40 beers, with a focus on Ontario craft beers, as well as Magners and Strongbow cider (they have Pimm’s). They also have scotches and lots of wine
Food selection: gastropub with specials such as “lobster, shrimp, and spinach terrine with lobster bisque lemon beurre blanc sauce” and pizza from a wood-burning stove. The menu, which is online, is presented on a clipboard-like device using Robertson screws
Service staff: good and in fancy attire, our waiter made a beer suggestion a beer for our second round and made a good choice for us
Prices: not bad
Toilets: clean (no toilet paper in either stall and we arrived early enough that I knew the toilets hadn’t been checked before opening, our waiter did rush in with bog roll after I let him know — can’t let the sisterhood down)
Patio: south-facing and an up-and-over door for that yummy car exhaust flavour inside
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: two, one playing an old gangster movie from the 1930s
Live music: considering having at brunch
Piped-in music: modern

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

The Imperial Pub

Imperial Pub Toronto

The Imperial Pub (website)
54 Dundas Street East, Toronto ON M5B 1C7 (on the north-east corner of Dundas Street East and Victoria Street, the nearest major intersection is Dundas Street and Yonge Street) 416-977-4667
Google Maps

The pub that time forgot.

The Imperial Pub is in many ways your grandparents’ pub with its old-fashioned beer mugs, bright neon beer signs, ancient carpet, antique wooden chairs, overgrown potted plants, tin ceiling, etc. It also features a circular bar with a huge aquarium inside it on the downstairs level. However, the pub comes by its retro style legitimately as it was founded in 1944. (The pub has been updated since then, but probably not in the last four or five decades.)

The Imperial Pub is in an ideal location, just steps from the Eaton Centre, Ryerson University, and Dundas Square, all of which were established after the pub was built. As such, the crowd at the Imperial is a mixture of older patrons and young students. The pub has a back room that is used for concerts and other events (I went there several times a few years ago for board game nights, which they no longer seem to do — a pub blogger can have other interests than visiting pubs). The upstairs features a library with leather sofas, foosball and there is a jukebox that has jazz music selections.

Number of visits by yours truly: ten or so, most recently on a weekday evening in March 2015
TTC information: just a two-minute walk east from Dundas Station
Booze selection: 60 beers with Thornby cider (they don’t have Pimm’s). The beer is served in old-fashioned mugs
Food selection: not for those on a diet, but pub food as it is meant to be
Service staff: friendly, but the kitchen was a little slow with our order
Prices: inexpensive
Toilets: clean, but cramped and very minimal
Patio: rooftop with a view of Dundas Square
Wheelchair accessible: the toilets are too small for a wheelchair
Televisions: a few
Live music: sometimes and comedy on Monday nights
Piped-in music: Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, “Big band stuff”

Rating: four pints (out of five) 

The Court Jester

Court Jester Toronto
The Court Jester (website)
681 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4J 1L2 (on the south side of the Danforth, between Pape Avenue and Jones Avenue) 416-465-6247
Google Maps 

Pub and deli-dining together on the Danforth. 

This is a review of the new and larger location of the Court Jester on the Danforth, which moved from the west side of Pape to the east in December 2014. My friend and I checked out the new location shortly after it opened. I went to the old Court Jester a number of times over the years. (One of my sisters, who used to live nearby, met a boyfriend there.) From the outside, the new Court Jester looks somewhat the same with the same insipid jester creature, but it’s better on the inside with a lighter, more up-scale look and a variety of seating, including high-top tables. The new Court Jester features a deli counter at the front, called CJ’s Deli, which was very busy while we were there with lots of people getting take-out.

The new Court Jester is now child-friendly (le sigh) and features weekend brunch and all-week-long breakfasts. Although I have been there only the once, I would say that the new Court Jester is attracting a new clientele. Like the old pub, it has darts, a pinball machine, and board games.

Note: the front step was very slippery in winter and there is the Jester on Yonge, so make sure you and your friends know which one you are going to.

Number of visits by yours truly: five or six, most recently on a weekday evening in January 2015
TTC information: just a two-minute walk east from Pape Station
Booze selection: 16 beers including Strongbow cider (forgot to ask about Pimm’s, sorry!)
Food selection: the menu is online, not surprisingly with a number of deli sandwiches
Service staff: good service
Prices: not cheap, but lots of food
Toilets: no hot tap water in the ladies’, I verified this by turning on and off the two valves under the sink (what lengths I go to for you, my dear readers). Not impressed. Apparently the men’s was good, but freezing cold in the winter
Patio: I don’t think so, but the window in the front is an up-and-over door
Wheelchair accessible: not wheelchair accessible
Televisions: four televisions
Live music: I don’t think so
Piped-in music: Beatles, Queen, Coldplay

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

The Fox and Fiddle (St. Clair)

Fox and Fiddle Pub St Clair

The Fox and Fiddle (website)
1085 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto ON M6E 1A8 (on the south side, between Northcliffe Boulevard and Lauder Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Dufferin and St. Clair West) 416-657-3691
Google Maps 

Why are Fox and Fiddle pubs so boring? 

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not much of a fan of the Fox and Fiddle pub chain. The chain lacks charisma so much so that I even find it difficult to write a review about the various pubs because there’s not a lot to say. The Fox and Fiddle pubs are rather drab looking — with copious amounts of beer advertising, but clean enough — which is funny given the brand’s focus on the looks of their wait staff on their website and their menus.

Anyway, on with the review, this Fox and Fiddle pub has take-out and a regular clientele, booths of various sizes, a variety of seating, and a pool table. There are at least ten Fox and Fiddles in Toronto, and another dozen beyond, so make sure you know where you gathering.

Number of visits by yours truly: four or five visits to this location, most recently on a weekday evening in March 2015. (In case you are wondering why I’ve go back given that I’d rather go anywhere else, it’s because my beloved’s 93-year grandmother lives nearby and we met at the pub for dinner before heading over for cookies, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy!)
TTC information: a 20-minute streetcar ride (that’s what the TTC says) westbound from St Clair Station, or take the Dufferin bus north from Dufferin Station, which will drop you after a seven-minute ride at St Clair West
Booze selection: more than 30 beers with Strongbow and Somersby ciders (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard Fox and Fiddle menu
Service staff: not good (Update: 2015.04.28, was there last night and my glass was empty for long enough for me to change my mind from a beer to a ginger ale.)
Prices: reasonable
Toilets: not bad, but not enough for the size of the pub
Patio: south
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Televisions: at least nine, but not all were turned on  
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Lorde, The Raconteurs

Rating: three pints (out of five) 

The Fox and Fiddle (Danforth)

Fox and Fiddle Danforth

The Fox and Fiddle (Danforth) (website)
535 Danforth Avenue, Toronto Ontario M4K 1P7 (on the south side of Danforth, between Carlaw and Fenwick, the nearest intersection is Pape and Danforth) 416-462-9830
Google Maps 

Decent sports pub on the Danforth.

I’m not a fan of the Fox and Fiddle pub chain — too many televisions, a little dark even for my gothic sensibilities, and the focus on looks (the first image on their website is of a woman holding two plates, but the food is out of focus and partly cut off and her nose and above is cut off, the camera is focussed on “The Fox and Fiddle” name on her chest). However, they could be worse and when Toronto had that huge winter storm in 2013 with the power outages, the Fox and Fiddle on the Danforth allowed its customers to charge their cell phones there as they had power.

The Fox and Fiddle on the Danforth features two pool tables, a party room in the basement, and games at the back. The seating is varied with high-back chairs, different size booths, a bench for 14, etc.

Number of visits by yours truly: three or four visits, most recently on a weekday afternoon in December 2014
TTC information: two-minute walk west of Pape Station
Booze selection: 40 beers with Somersby and Strongbow ciders (yes, they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard pub fare, the kitchen is open until 2 am
Service staff: good (We were chatting with our server and another patron who had just walked in immediately asked her for a beer while we were talking, she politely dealt with him and I watched him drink his pint in two minutes.)
Prices: reasonable
Toilets: the gender signs are on the door handle plates, which is not where you would expect them to be
Patio: north on the Danforth
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Televisions: lots and lots including several inside booths
Live music: likely not
Piped-in music: modern

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

The Bristol

Bristol Pub Toronto

The Bristol (website)
1087 Queen Street West, Toronto ON M6J 1H3 (on the south side, between Dovercourt Road and White Squirrel Way, the nearest major intersection is Queen Street West and Ossington Street) 416-901-5472
Google Maps

New World meets Old World.

I’m confused. It’s The Bristol on its sign, but its website calls the pub the Bristol & Bombay Pub and Restaurant, and its Twitter handle is BristolYardie, apparently one of the owners’ former pubs, which used to be on Christie Street. Anyway, I am reviewing the pub itself, located inside the Great Hall on Queen Street West, which open in June 2014. 

The Bristol is a rather nice looking pub with two chambers. It has Old World touches, such as a portrait of Queen Victoria, leather chairs, Tudor toby mugs, horse brasses, metal beer jugs, Union Jack bunting, a British police call box with an ATM, and lots of ships. However, it also has dark grey walls, a white tile floor, and several big screen televisions, so that’s the modern/New World bit (in my opinion). Like the old Bristol Yard Pub, the Bristol offers brunch on the weekends. The Bristol has a jukebox (featuring “a soundtrack of all things classic and quintessentially British”) and Scrabble, as well as a variety of seating, including benches, chairs, stools and a few leather-backed low chairs for longer stays.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, on a weekday afternoon in December 2014
TTC information: a nine-minute bus ride south from Ossington Station to Queen Street, then a four-minute walk west to Dovercourt, or take the Queen Street streetcar west from Osgoode Station, which will drop you after a 22-minute ride at Dovercourt Street
Booze selection: 10 beers with Waupoos and Cornish Gold ciders (they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: traditional British pub with the mandatory curries, good fish and chips, but my dining companion felt they tasted a little metallic
Service staff: attentive
Prices: expensive
Toilets: three unisex ones — one was rather smelly and unclean. I warned my dining companion
Patio: nope
Wheelchair accessible: nope as toilets up some steps
Televisions: two in each room with a hidden one in the mirror
Live music: sometimes, check their Facebook or Twitter pages for details
Piped-in music: soul

Rating: four pints (out of five) 

Toronto Guild of Stitchery

The Toronto Guild of Stitchery was formed in 1975 to encourage and promote the practice of embroidery in all its forms. Our members enjoy a variety of techniques, including cross stitch, crewel, needlepoint, blackwork, whitework, Schwalm, Hardanger, pulled thread, drawn thread, stumpwork, goldwork, smocking, canvas work, mixed media, Japanese embroidery, and machine embroidery, among others. We welcome stitchers of all skill levels, from beginners to experts The Guild meets two days a month from September to June to share our knowledge and our love of stitching with each other. Meetings are held both during the day and in the evening, and members are welcome to attend either or both as they choose. Day and evening programs are often different. From the beginning, the Toronto guild has been a chapter guild of the Embroiderers’ Association of Canada (EAC). The founding chapter of EAC was Winnipeg Embroiderer’s Guild (1973), and the second chapter was TGS (1975) In addition to our regular meetings, members get together once or twice a year on a Saturday, to spend the whole day stitching. Semi-regular weekends away are also planned.

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