The Firkin On Danforth

The Firkin On Danforth (website, Twitter)
2057B Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4C 1J8 (on the south side of Danforth Avenue, between Woodbine Avenue and Moberly Avenue) 647-345-0455
Google Maps

Be careful what you pray for.

A regular lament from yours truly is that there are no pubs near my home. Perhaps I was spoiled for several years with having a pub within a five-minute walk. After I moved, I used to be mildly jealous of people who could walk home from a pub. Until recently, we faced a half-hour walk from the nearest pub. (Don’t get me wrong, I love walking, but sometimes you want to get home after a night of carousing.) Anyway, a year ago or so, my “prayers” were answered… with a Firkin pub (proving that god’s still got a sick sense of humour) opening within a 15-minute walk of our little Excalibur Cottage. Firkin pubs are okay, but that’s it, they are okay. Forgettable, bland, the McDonald’s of pubs. Mediocrity should not be the goal. Now that I’ve got that off my chest…

The Firkin On Danforth has a fair bit going for it — it’s new, clean, with a variety of seating, including the ubiquitous Union Jack sofa that can be found in every rebranded Firkin, and a picnic bench-like table in the sunken area, and the staff are pleasant enough. Apparently, the central bar can seat 27 people, which is nice, if you like to watch the bartender or the television instead of making eye contact with your drinking companions. However, it’s got concrete floors and a lovely (plastic) tiled ceiling, which means it’s noisy. It’s also child-friendly, the first time we went a child was apparently having a birthday party there. Not exactly what I was hoping to have with my beer and meal that night.

Number of visits by yours truly: three times so far, most recently on a weekday evening in March 2017
TTC information: just south of Woodbine Station
Booze selection: 20 beers, along with four ciders, including Somersby and Strongbow  (they have Pimm’s) (out of Strongbow Gold and Queen St 501 cider one night, see food)
Food selection: standard Firkin pub grub (out of butter chicken one night, see booze)
Service staff: friendly
Prices: standard Firkin prices, not too expensive, but not cheap
Toilets: three, one accessible, and one for the ladies and one for the gents
Patio: 
tiny patio on Danforth that is unattached to the pub
Wheelchair accessible: 
yes, but the lower sunken level, which makes up a third of the pub, is not accessible
Televisions: 
lots and lots
Live music: 
apparently they have karaoke every other Wednesday 
Piped-in music:
Tone Loc, Bryan Adams, The Cure

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

TorontoPubs’ East Danforth Pub Crawl

https://goo.gl/maps/mRBi3bTJRCM2

Updated 2017.01.17

Notes on this pub crawl: the walk (1 km) takes about 12 minutes in total taking into account traffic signals. Keep in mind that all five pubs are small and you might have difficulty getting a seat. Local 1794 is a little further east than the other four pubs, but worth the walk.

Notes on pub crawls in general: consider at least 45 minutes per pub visit and let your server know that you having just one drink and then moving on into the fizzy night so she/he knows that you’ll need your bill quickly. Pay by cash so you aren’t waiting for the credit card/debit machine and tip generously as you may be back one day for longer than just one drink. Check the pub’s website/Twitter (links in TorontoPubs review of establishment) in case they have an event that night. Also keep in mind the day and time, Saturday nights with the FIFA World Cup’s final on is not the best night for said pub crawl.

Printable PDF of this TorontoPubs’ East Danforth Pub Crawl with map.

Morgans on the Danforth (TorontoPubs review)
1282 Danforth Avenue

The Borough (TorontoPubs review)
1352 Danforth Avenue

The Wren (TorontoPubs review)
1382 Danforth Avenue

Sarah’s Café and Bar (TorontoPubs review)
1426 Danforth Avenue

Local 1794 (TorontoPubs review)
1794 Danforth Avenue

Unfortunately, this pub crawl is not wheelchair accessible.

The Borough

The Borough Toronto

The Borough (website, Twitter)
1352 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4J 1M9 (on the north side, between Linsmore Crescent and Monarch Park Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Greenwood Avenue and Danforth Avenue) 416-901-1429
Google Maps

Another excellent addition to the Danforth’s growing number of decent pubs! 

Fittingly named after Canada’s last borough, East York (1967-1988, requiescat in pace), and location of said pub, the Borough is putting the pub into gastropub. This is a touch ironic given that the borough of East York was dry for several years. The pub does have a focus on locally sourced food and takes part in the nearby East Lynn  Farmers’ Market. Like the nearby Wren, the Borough is child-friendly, but it doesn’t have a kids’ menu. It does serve Sunday brunch, but it doesn’t open until five during the week and on Saturdays. We found out twice the hard way.

The Borough has black-and-white pictures of said old borough on the walls, along with a three-dimensional miniature fairy door of 11 Downing Street, home of the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and the sign for the pub looks very much like the street signs in London, itself full of boroughs. It’s a very bright establishment, despite the greys everywhere. Our welcome last-minute addition to the pubbing experience said that the Borough was, “Life in greyscale,” with flashes of red cushions and napkins. I should have replied with, “It’s fifty shades of grey on the Danforth,” but I didn’t and it’s not really that funny anyway.

A note on the picture, I took the picture at Christmas time last year as I had a camera with me and no-one was walking in front of the pub. They don’t usually have Christmas decorations up.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last on a weekday evening in August 2015
TTC information: Greenwood Station, mere metres on the Danforth from the station
Booze selection: a selection local craft beers, with Thornbury and Duxsbury ciders (they don’t have Pimm’s because it’s not local)
Food selection: the food is local and organic, with a focus on British comfort food. Be warned, it’s spicy — my note says “perfumed by a manifesto”. It’s in my writing, but I’m not that poetic even after a pint or two
Service staff: great
Prices: expensive
Toilets: the ladies’ was nice, but the men’s apparently left something to be desired 
Patio: south-facing
Wheelchair accessible: has steps to the toilet, so no
Televisions: one over the bar
Live music: no
Piped-in music: modern and electronic, could hardly hear as the volume was low

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

Local 1794

Local 1794 Toronto

Local 1794 (website, Twitter)
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 (Canadian) 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 Court Jester

Court Jester Toronto
The Court Jester
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 (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 (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 Avenue and Fenwick Avenue, the nearest intersection is Pape Avenue and Danforth Avenue) 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, her nose and above is also 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. Ho-hum.

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) 

Louis Cifer Brew Works

Louis Cifer Toronto

Louis Cifer Brew Works (website, Twitter)
417 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4K 1P1 (on the south side, between Hampton Avenue and Logan Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Broadview and Danforth) 647-350-5087
Google Maps 

Pub of the Future. 

Louis Cifer Brew Works has a lot going for it — catchy homonym based on the devil, large location in the heart of Greektown (you can see the painted Corinthian columns on the building’s corners), beer-to-go service, open weekday afternoons unlike some of its competition, and decent food and beer. However, a mark against this pub is that it is owned by the same people as Stout Irish Pub. Stout was a disappointing pub, very disappointing, and you deserve better. Fortunately, Louis Cifer is better, then again, almost anywhere is better.

Louis Cifer opened recently, circa October 2014, and it still has that new pub smell, as well as a few opening hurdles to get over. It has an upstairs area, large vats behind a glass enclosure (which still may not actually be working as apparently this part of the launch hit a few bumps), tasting notes cards, and a modern ambiance compared to most traditional pubs, with its leather chairs, shining chrome, stark colours, and tin ceilings panels.

Number of visits by yours truly: first, but not my last, on a weekday afternoon in November 2014
TTC information: within stumbling distance of Chester Station
Booze selection: 24 beers including six of their own brews, which are apparently being brewed off site at several different locations, Pommies cider, as well as a number of wines, scotches, hoptails, flights of beer, etc. (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: gastropub and traditional pub dishes, I had the crispy pork belly rinds and I will have them again. The menu is online
Service staff: not bad, but a number of other online reviewers pointed out delays they experienced and poor service
Prices: expensive
Toilets: fancy with naughty toilet signs
Patio: up-and-over doors and they have a small narrow patio in the summer on the Danforth
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Televisions: four that I could see, one being a projector screen upstairs
Live music: likely not, the seating seemed pretty stationary
Piped-in music: Peter Gabriel, Rolling Stones, Big Star

Rating: four pints (out of five)