Indie Ale House

Indie Ale House Toronto

Indie Ale House (website, Twitter)
2876 Dundas Street West, Toronto ON M6P 1Y9 (on the north side, the nearest major intersection is Keele Street and Dundas Street West) 416-760-9691
Google Maps 

Home of the happy hipster. 

I have a love-hate relationship with NOW Magazine‘s annual Bar/Pub/Beer Guide. Some picks are great and sometimes they miss the mark completely. As a result, I am skeptical about their glowing endorsements (I am suspect due to Stout‘s good standing) and was prepared to be disappointed with the Indie Ale House, one of NOW‘s top picks, and also given a good friend’s less-than-enthusiastic review of the place ([L]oud, pretentious, full of their own hype. And [she] hated the cider. They also told [her] companion that the tonic water they delivered was in fact the soda water he ordered.). However, I was pleasantly surprised with the Indie Ale House, although I was the eldest and least fashionable person in the establishment and thus felt rather out of place. This is the home of the happy hipster and there were more beards, plaid tops, colourful trousers, and iPads visible than at a National’s concert or at an IKEA sale.

The Indie Ale House looks a bit like a cafeteria with too many tables (which means you can hear your neighbours’ conversations) and it sounds a bit like one too. There was wood everywhere, except for the exposed brick wall and tin ceiling, and from where I was sitting I could see the beer vats. The Indie Ale House only takes reservations for large groups (and they go on and on about this on their website) and they also only present one bill for said group. They were getting their knickers in a twist (the page with this rant is now only available as a now unavailable cached version) about their name, the pub is called Indie Ale House with three words, but their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts all say the Indie Alehouse. If the establishment itself can’t be consistent, then they shouldn’t grumble when others aren’t.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, on a weekday afternoon in July 2014, but not my last
TTC information: take the Dundas West (Junction) bus north from Dundas West Station (seven-minute journey)
Booze selection: 11 craft beers that night, which change often, the cider they had then was Spirit Tree (I write that as I expect they change it often). No Pimm’s
Food selection: limited menu, but large servings
Service staff: not bad, but it seems that we might have been lucky
Prices: good for portions
Toilets: decent
Patio: nope
Wheelchair accessible: appears to be
Televisions: two tiny screens, not on
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Indie 88.1 (of course)

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

The Hole in the Wall

The Hole in the Wall Toronto

The Hole in the Wall (website, Twitter)
2867 Dundas Street West, Toronto ON M6P 1Y9 (on the south side, next to Post and Beam Architectural Reclamation, the nearest major intersection is Keele Street and Dundas Street West) 647-350-3564
Google Maps 

The place to go for craft beers in the Junction. 

The first time I attempted to go to the Hole in the Wall with my partner in crime, the pub had paper on the door glass and it wasn’t open, so I think it was either about to open or was undergoing renovations. We ended up going to the nearby Axis Bar and Grill, and if you have the choice, you should go here instead. Apparently the pub did undergo renovations recently, however you can’t really tell, it is really a hole in the wall, so kudos for being honest about the name.

The Hole in the Wall is very loud due to the wooden floors and tall ceiling, even at brunch time, so I dread to think what it’s like when they have their live music five nights a week. The pub is very narrow and you will likely walk by it twice before you finally locate it. One of my dining companions said that the pub is built in an old alleyway, hence its odd shape, location, and exposed brick walls. Despite this, the pub is bright due to its skylight. Groups larger than four will have a tough time finding suitable seating, so go with three of your closest drinking companions and enjoy yourselves.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a Sunday afternoon in late September 2013, but not my last
TTC information: take the Dundas West (Junction) bus north from Dundas West Station (seven-minute journey)
Booze selection: dozen or so craft beers, which change often, not including Strongbow, Waupoos, Sir Perry, Magners ciders. Yes, they have Pimm’s
Food selection: we were there for brunch, so we only got that menu, which was pretty good
Service staff: good
Prices: not bad
Toilets: two unisex toilets; one was acceptable, one wasn’t
Patio: no
Wheelchair accessible: sort of, the toilets are on the ground floor, but I would be hesitant to recommend this as wheelchair accessible
Televisions: one
Live music: five nights a week
Piped-in music: Arcade Fire, Neil Young, Billy Joel, Counting Crows (!)

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

Axis Gallery and Grill

Axis Gallery and Grill (website, Twitter)
3048 Dundas Street West, Toronto ON M6P 1Z3 (on the north side, at the corner of McMurray Avenue,  the nearest major intersection is Keele Street and Dundas Street West) 416-604-3333
Google Maps 

A lovely patio in the Junction. 

During the winter, the Axis, which is a pub in the loosest sense of the word, is warm and dimly lit by candles. While in the summer, the patio is packed, the inside is deserted, and every customer seems to either have a child or a dog in tow. The interior is decorated with photographs and art for sale and there is a party room downstairs with a ping-pong table.

On my most recent visit, a woman — presumably the manager — was standing in the patio entrance glaring at our server, willing him to be quicker, but had she come out to the busy patio herself to clean the empty tables and distribute menus, he would have been able to serve more people more quickly and everyone would have been happy. They also have those mobile credit card units without the disclaimer about the tip percentage option being based on the total including taxes, not the subtotal excluding taxes.

If meeting up with friends, keep in mind that there is the Axis Gastro Pub, located on Bloor near Bathurst.

Number of visits by yours truly: three or four times, most recently on a Saturday afternoon in late May 2011. I doubt I’ll be back anytime soon
TTC information: take the Dundas West (Junction) bus north from Dundas West Station (seven-minute journey)
Booze selection: 13 beers, including Strongbow cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: straightforward with pasta and sandwiches. The menu is poorly edited. I have never eaten there as our foodie friends live nearby. What’s the point in eating at Axis when you can dine on dishes lovingly prepared by superb cooks, food that would make angels weep?
Service staff: v-e-r-y  s-l-o-w (see above)
Prices: expensive for booze, mid-range for food
Toilets: the dead spider entombed in its own cobweb had been removed since my last visit
Patio: on the west side with trees, but they offered scant coverage from the sun
Wheelchair accessible: no way!
Televisions: four and two behind the bar
Live music: open jam on Tuesday nights, dee-jay on Friday night, patio playing during weekend brunch, Saturday has live music
Piped-in music: jazz

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