The Duke of York Pub (website, Twitter)
39 Prince Arthur Avenue, Toronto ON M5R 1B2 (on the south side, between Avenue Road and Bedford Avenue, one block north of Bloor Street West and just west of Avenue Road) 416-964-2441
The Duke of York’s location makes it ideal for meeting with friends from across Toronto.
I have been to this pub more than a hundred times over the years, even though the service sucks. (My better half used to work nearby and I’m sticking to that story.) You can have a wonderful server one time, then another visit spend all evening trying to get the same person’s attention. I have walked out of there a few times having given up on being served. (I usually give them five minutes or so to acknowledge us, which I think is reasonable, and, yes, I do tip well and am quite easy to please and they have a greeter at the door who will seat you in an active section.) I have also dealt with the pub for special events for groups as large as 50 and the staff haven’t been as helpful as other places.
The Duke of York is a bit of a rabbit warren and the greeter can sometimes be confused as to reservations or what’s going on with the PubStumpers event. (PubStumpers usually starts forty minutes late, at eight-forty-ish, so we stopped going there as we were getting home so late.) If meeting someone there it’s a good idea to let the person know where you are in the pub as there are eight “rooms,” not including the patios and it can get busy. The pub has standard pub décor with “clans of Scotland” historical prints. A group of eight or more will find it hard to get a table without reservations, however, if your group size is four, practically every spot is tailored for you. The Duke of York is close to the Royal Ontario Museum, the Bata Shoe Museum, and Yorkville.
Note, there is a Duke of York Tavern on Queen near Jones, so be clear when making plans with friends.
Number of visits by yours truly: 100 or more, most recently on a Tuesday night in February 2011
TTC information: St. George Station’s east exit, within stumbling distance
Booze selection: standard Duke pub selection of approximately 30 beers, including Strongbow and Bulmers ciders. Yes, they have Pimm’s!
Food selection: standard pub grub
Service staff: hit and miss, hence the less-than-great rating. I was there last night (2014.01.25) and I had to ask twice for the same glass of water, twice for butter for my haggis, and twice our waitress told me to “wait just a moment” as she dashed to serve other customers. She was nearly in tears, which I think is more a reflection of poor staffing levels than of poor staff. I’ve given them enough chances over the years, so I think I will take my wallet elsewhere from now on
Prices: expensive both in terms of booze and food, you go there for the location
Toilets: clean, you can hear the subway in the ladies’ washroom in the basement. They recently added a men’s to the top floor
Patio: south and north of building, the north one is quite small (I’ve never sat there), the south one in the back is surrounded by tall buildings, so don’t go for a suntan
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: quite a few, depending on where you sit you can be in an area where there are none
Live music: Thursdays in the Cellar
Piped-in music: standard ’80s/’90s
Rating: three pints (out of five) due to the poor service