The Grover

The Grover Pub Toronto

The Grover (website, Twitter)
676 Kingston Road, Toronto ON M4E 1R4 (on the north side, between Main Street and Walter Street, the nearest major intersection is Main Street and Kingston Road) 416-691-9200
Google Maps

I went there so you don’t have to.

My favourite drinking buddy and I first went by the Grover a number of years ago, but we were on the way to a friend’s place, so we didn’t stop. Plus, the font of the name is difficult to read, so I could not remember its name. (Petrarch, as you know, also found gothic type difficult to read.) Anyway, fast-forward a few years and in my constant search for a new pub, I read BlogTO’s “The top 10 new pubs in Toronto.” We decided to go to the closest one to home, which turned out to the Grover. We went there so you don’t have to.

The Grover has actually been around since the 1980s, so it was included on this new pub list as it is under new management and had been “rebranded”. The art on the wall is a nice mix of old newspapers and modern prints. It did indeed have that new pub scent, clean booths, fresh paint, etc. But the thing about the Grover is that it is a children’s pub (you wouldn’t know from the website). I got there and nearly every booth had a child in it. They even have multiple selections for children on the menu. We had a child standing on its hind legs staring at us the entire time we ate our meal (we had sat in an emptier part of the pub to start with). Neither of the child’s parents/guardians did anything about it and one of the former was sitting facing us so she knew what was happening. Perhaps we should have been told we were sitting in the Chuck E. Cheese section? It resulted in an early exit for us.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first and my last on a weekday evening in June 2016
TTC information: take the Main Street bus south from Main Street Station (five minutes)
Booze selection: 20 craft brews, as well as Pommies Farmhouse and Thornbury ciders (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: decent, but rather small servings, with a number of vegetarian options, but generous with the wet wipes
Service staff: slow
Prices: okay
Toilets: clean
Patio: north
Wheelchair accessible: the toilets were downstairs
Televisions: nine, but several were off 
Live music: open mic on Fridays and Saturdays
Piped-in music: ’60s music

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


TorontoPubs’ Queen Street East Pub Crawl

Updated 2017.01.16

Notes on this pub crawl: the walk (4.6 km) takes about an hour in total or you can take the Queen Street streetcar and hop on and off. Keep in mind that Hitch and Castro’s Lounge are very small, so you might have trouble getting a seat unless you can make a reservation. TTC directions back to the subway are available on each pub’s individual review.

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, but it is one of the best times to be in a pub.

Printable PDF of this Toronto Pubs’ Queen Street East Pub Crawl with map.

An Sibin Pub (TorontoPubs review)
709 Queen Street East

The Roy (TorontoPubs review)
894 Queen Street East

The Thirsty Duck (TorontoPubs review)
972 Queen Street East

Hitch (TorontoPubs review)
1216 Queen Street East

The Ceili Cottage (TorontoPubs review)
1301 Queen Street East

Murphy’s Law (TorontoPubs review)
1702 Queen Street East

The Gull and Firkin (TorontoPubs review)
1943 Queen Street East

The Stone Lion (formerly the Lion on the Beach)  
1958 Queen Street East

Castro’s Lounge (TorontoPubs review)
2116 Queen Street East

Unfortunately, this pub crawl is not wheelchair accessible.

Murphy’s Law

Murphy’s Law (website, Twitter)
1702 Queen Street East, Toronto ON M4L 1G6 (on the northwest corner of Queen Street East and Kingston Road, the nearest major intersection is Kingston Road and Queen Street East) 416-690-5516
Google Maps

A good place for a pint or two and to rest one’s weary feet after the delights of the Beaches.

My better half and I have walked by Murphy’s Law a number of times and never stopped for a pint. Not really sure why, perhaps it was the name invoking memories of cheesy jokes, I really don’t know, but it probably won’t happen again after our recent visit. I was delighted and only wished that we had more time to stay.

We sat in a snug that seated about 12 people and we were the only people in there. It would have been crowded to have strangers in there as a conversation would have been easily overheard. Upon my investigations on the way to the ladies’ room, I popped my head into Murphy’s Loft on the second floor, which apparently holds 68 people, and it was packed (it was either a private party or a sports event on television). I also looked at the rooftop patio and was impressed by the view. Murphy’s Law is a sister pub to Pogue Mahone and the Foggy Dew so if you like them, you’ll like this one. Like her sister pubs, Murphy’s Law has lots of stained glass, dark wood, snugs, and images of Ireland.

I also never noticed before my visit to Murphy’s Law that Arthur Guinness’ signature as used on the beer company’s advertising features the long s. You learn something every day!

Number of visits by yours truly: first, not my last, on a Saturday afternoon in August 2011
TTC information: a 17- to 20-minute ride eastbound from Queen Station on the Queen streetcar or take the bus south from Coxwell Station, which will drop you after a 10-minute ride at Queen and Eastern, just across the road from the pub
Booze selection: 23 beers, including Magners cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: a bit limited, like her sister pubs, but I enjoyed the smoked Gouda perogies
Service staff: very good
Prices: expensive
Toilets: very good
Patio: south of building on the road, north of the building near a parking lot, and on the roof (which isn’t always open), most of it looking south across Woodbine Park towards the lake. Probably a romantic aid, if that is what you require
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: three
Live music: Thursdays and Saturdays
Piped-in music: Irish, modern rock, classic rock (very loud)

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

Castro’s Lounge

Castro’s Lounge (website, Twitter)
2116 Queen Street East, Toronto ON M4E 1G1 (on the north side, between Wineva Avenue and Hammersmith Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Wineva Avenue and Queen Street East) 416-699-8272
Google Maps 

The place to go for beer in the Beaches.

I’ve been to Castro’s Lounge a number of times as we have a friend who used to live nearby, and the first time we went there I was impressed by the beer list. It’s a very small pub, with seating for about 35 people, including seating along a peninsula-like table that juts out of the bar. Other seating is small tables with chess-board inlays that can be moved around for larger groups and a number of stools along the up-and-over glass garage door that serves as a window. The garage door is up during the summer, which means that if someone is smoking on the street, the pub can be filled with the second-hand smoke.

The deep red walls are covered in photographs of Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, John Lennon, Vladimir Lenin, and other notable visages of the 20th century. Castro’s Lounge has dirty bingo on Saturdays, which seems to be very popular as we tried to go there one night and were unable to get a proper seat as they were all reserved.

Number of visits by yours truly: five or six, most recently on a Saturday afternoon in early June 2011
TTC information: a 35-minute ride eastbound from Queen Station on the Queen streetcar or take the bus from Main Street Station (the 64 southbound) which will drop you after a 10-minute ride at Wineva Avenue and Queen Street East
Booze selection: lots to choose from, more than “150 mirco-brews and imports” from sign — with 38 Belgian beers — including cider (no Pimm’s). Like most places that boast a selection this large, be sure to have a back-up when ordering as the menu is out of date. On our most recent visit (2013.05.24) we were told that the beer list was online, which defends the purpose in having people socialize
Food selection: very basic all-vegetarian, you come for the booze
Service staff: the service is probably the only reason I am not giving Castro’s five out of five pints, it can be very slow
Prices: not bad
Toilets: very cool! The three toilets — girls, boys, overflow for both — are decorated with a collage of colourful pictures
Patio: smoking area to the south
Wheelchair accessible: small step and toilets are downstairs, so nope
Televisions: two, both rather small and usually muted
Live music: Mondays, Thursdays, dee-jay on Fridays, some Saturdays, and Sunday afternoons
Piped-in music: last time I was there the music was off

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

The Gull and Firkin

The Gull and Firkin (website, Twitter
1943 Queen Street East, Toronto ON M4L 1H7 (on the south side, east of Woodbine, between Kippendavie Avenue and Kenilworth Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Woodbine Avenue and Queen Street East) 416-693-9337
Google Maps

Great for a pint after a stroll along the Boardwalk in the Beaches.

If my personal stories are not of interest to you, my dear reader, please feel free to skip to the next paragraph. For you who choose to read on, I thank you and ask that you get a hanky for this tale of woe. You see, a week before I went to the Gull and Firkin, I broke my toe. Anyway, the plan for the evening in question was to check out a pub to see what it was like before going there for a PubStumpers evening and then hobble down the road to check out another pub. The first pub, the now closed Winchester Arms, looked a bit like a dive from the outside (one of the signs said it was the Manchester Arms and there were lots of smokers outside) we turned around and went to our second choice just down the road. The Feathers was more than half empty so we sat down. We were asked to move for a reservation (there was no sign), which we did and were then ignored by both waitresses. After the waitresses walked by us for a third time each, we gave them another couple of minutes and then left. We next went to Mullins Irish Pub a little further down the road, which is about the size of a large living room and we were told a “team” was coming in another hour, which would have crowded us out. So, we went to Castro’s Lounge on Queen, they had a ton of reservations too. We were offered a tiny table for two for the three of us, which was too cramped as we wanted to eat and so we went to the Gull and Firkin and got the last booth! According to Google Maps, we walked 2.8 kms and me with a broken toe! For a map of our odyssey, click here. I mention this background as I have to admit I was in pain and I was so happy to finally sit down in the Gull and Firkin that my review might be gently coloured by my experience.

I have been to the Gull and Firkin a couple of times as it’s near the Beaches and that’s within walking distance of my home. Frankly, that stretch of the Beaches is in need of more pubs! However, in terms of establishments of that nature already there, the Gull and Firkin is very pleasant, and as far as one of the Firkin pubs goes, this is one of the better ones. We were in the back of the pub that evening and it was like we were in our own tiny pub as the area is rather enclosed. The décor is very nice, with wood paneling, wall sconces, and a little dark. Large groups will have problems finding enough seating, but smaller groups will be happy to see that every spot is tailor-made for them.

However, like all Firkin pubs, there were too many televisions. We were in a section that sat a maximum of 16 people and there were two televisions. I thought people went to pubs to socialize and drink, but it seems I am wrong. A note, I went outside to take a photograph of the pub after we placed our first order and on the way back an older gentleman stopped me and asked me if I was looking for the ladies’ room. If the pub can attract nice patrons who want to assist others, then it must be a nice place to go.

Number of visits by yours truly: three or four, most recently on a Saturday night in April 2011
TTC information: take the Woodbine bus south from Woodbine Station (8- to 10-minute journey) or the Queen Street streetcar east from Queen Station (20- to 25-minute journey)
Booze selection: about a dozen or so, including Magners cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard pub grub with lots of sandwiches and wraps. As a friend said recently, the Firkin pubs are the McDonald’s of the pub scene, you know what you’re getting in every Firkin as the menu is the same
Service staff: very pleasant and friendly. Our waitress actually sat down at one point in our booth to take our order
Prices: decent
Toilets: not bad in terms of cleanliness, the first cubicle I went into didn’t lock (Why don’t pubs get these broken locks fixed?) and as a result I had to wait
Patio: on the street facing north
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: everywhere!
Live music: no as there are condos above the pub
Piped-in music: modern

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