The Ceili Cottage (website, Twitter)
1301 Queen Street East, Toronto ON M4L 1C2 (on the south side, between Leslie Street and Agnes Lane, the nearest major intersection is Queen Street East and Leslie Street) 416-406-1301
A tie with Dora Keogh for being the most authentic Irish pub in Toronto.
This is my 100th post for this blog. During the two years I have written this blog, I have only missed posting one review every week and that was for a three-day event that probably took up some 200 hours of my personal time to prepare for. (If you are counting and wondering why there are less than 100 posts before this one, I retire posts when a pub closes or reopens under a different name.) While researching for this blog I have sometimes suffered for you, my beloved readers, but I have also visited gems and hope that you have in turn enjoyed these establishments yourselves. That said, I am going into semi-retirement with this 100th post, in part because this has been an expensive blog to write, on average I have probably spent $70 a review if you count that my partner in crime was often also drinking and dining with me, so that works out to approximately $7,000 over the two years. I have not sought to monetise this blog as I wish to be impartial and, to be honest, would any publican or cider company care that much? From now on, I will now only post once a month or so. I do intend to update reviews as I go back to various pubs and to review new pubs (a dear friend told me about a new pub only three days ago). I have tried to be discreet and not let pub servers know that I was covertly taking notes on everything. I am sure some servers wondered why I wanted to know if they had Pimm’s and then declined it if they did, or if they had live music and then find out that I was glad that they didn’t (sorry, I like listening to my friends more than to some band). I have enjoyed researching and writing this blog and am proud of it. It has been a delight! Skål!
In honour of my 100th blog post, I wanted to go somewhere good, so after a bit of research, I settled on the Ceili (pronounced kay-lee) Cottage in Leslieville. After an onerous journey there (a 20-minute walk after the first snowfall of the winter from Broadview and Queen due to a downed Hydro wire and the streetcar couldn’t get through!) and not being sure of the exact address, my better half and I were in the mood to be impressed, and we were!
The Ceili Cottage is one of the most charming pubs in Toronto, the distressed walls (rustic was our word du jour) and tight quarters made for just the right atmosphere. There is a snug for eight or so, with curtains that can be drawn closed, stools and church pews (my atheist nature delighted in that realization) and regular tables in the front of the pub, which apparently dates back to 1884, and reserved for dining and drinking. While the bar room is for just drinking as there isn’t a lot of space for plates and dominated by stools and very cramped. A delightful pub worth checking out. I will be back.
Update 2017.02.19: We went to the Ceili Cottage yesterday and it was a disaster. They were out of most of their beers, the bread was stale, and we were served by four different people in the hour we were there. Granted they were busy, but they had more than enough staff to cover their customers. Hopefully, it was a blip, but we won’t be going back anytime soon.
Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but certainly not my last, on a weekday afternoon in December 2012
TTC information: a 13-minute ride eastbound from Queen Station on the Queen streetcar
Booze selection: 12 beers, not including Magners cider, all on tap and a number of whiskeys (yes, they have Pimm’s!)
Food selection: fancy Irish pub grub with oysters, which were yummy — as good as Oyster Boy according to he who aspires to be acknowledged! I had the pork chop with maple-glazed beans, which was also delicious. A lot of cold plates on the menu
Service staff: very friendly
Prices: quite reasonable for the amount of food provided
Toilets: very nice
Patio: to the north on Queen and in the winter they have a licensed yurt, which was toasty warm!
Wheelchair accessible: not really, the entrance is too narrow and the toilet is not easily accessible either
Televisions: one over the bar
Live music: on Tuesday evenings. There is an upright piano near the bar
Piped-in music: The Cure, The Pogues, Tom Waits
Rating: four pints (out of five)