The Granite Brewery

The Granite Brewery (website, Twitter)
245 Eglinton Avenue East, Toronto ON M4P 3B7 (on the east side, just south of Eglinton Avenue East on Mount Pleasant, the nearest major intersection is Yonge and Eglinton) 416-322-0723
Google Maps

Good beers, iffy service, in-house keg-to-go beer store.

I can’t remember the first time I went to the Granite Brewery. I’ve been a number of times over the years as we used to live nearby and it has a central location. However, the service can be bad, so I have hesitated to go back there. One time we waited more than an hour between visits by our server (we had fresh drinks to start with and were on the back patio, so we didn’t mind for a while, but by the time our server came back, we were not pleased and he didn’t seem to care). This bad service is part of the reason I have avoided reviewing the Granite Brewery.

The  Granite Brewery has a library room, lots of Hogarth prints, and a set of stuffed Laurel and Hardy playing chess. The large room at the back has awful tablecloths, which remind me of garden parties in the 1980s. However, they do have a decent self-serve brunch on the weekends and on-site brewing. They also have menus in large print and Braille.

Update 2014.03.21: I tried to make a reservation for 16 people in the front room of the Granite right by the windows, but they wouldn’t change the orientation of the tables to accommodate my group, so we’re going elsewhere!

Number of visits by yours truly: two or three dozen visits as I used to live nearby, most recently in late August 2012
TTC information: you can catch several eastbound buses from Elington station, but as the pub is only a 10-minute walk, you might just want to consider that as figuring out which bus is leaving first isn’t really worth the trouble
Booze selection: eight beers on tap, five in circulation, several of these beers have won awards. They have Strongbow cider in bottles (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: good salads and standard pub grub
Service staff: can be hit or miss. On my most two recent visits the service was very good and the place was very crowded
Prices: expensive
Toilets: recently renovated
Patio: covered west-facing patio in the front and semi-covered in the courtyard in the back
Wheelchair accessible:
yup!
Televisions:
at least four and one was turned off
Live music:
nope
Piped-in music:
Queen’s “Under Pressure” and the Shins (I have no idea who they are, but my friend knew)

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

The Rose and Crown

The Rose and Crown (website)
2335 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4P 2C8 (on the east side, just north of Roehampton Avenue on Yonge Street, the nearest major intersection is Yonge and Eglinton) 416-487-7673
Google Maps

Pub by day, noisy meat market by night.

I tried to go to the Rose and Crown once before, back when they allowed smoking inside. I recall a wall of cigarette smoke greeted us at the pub’s door and through the haze I could see a murder of old men cradling half-drank beers in their knotty hands, with toothless grins, empty clothing, and milky eyes giving us outsiders a once-over of disdain. Then, one of them got up and shuffled towards us, he licked his thin lips, and slurred, “Fresh brains!” All right, the Rose and Crown wasn’t exactly that, but it was too smoky and it appeared to be a regulars-only place, so we promptly left.

Anyway, a friend had a birthday party recently at the Rose and Crown, so we had a reason to go back. We arrived early and I thought it was a lovely pub with timber beams, whitewash, an interesting ceiling, wooden floors, a library (that was closed when we arrived), and prints of fox hunting. There were older couples eating meals in the booths. However, later, as the band started, the Rose and Crown transformed into a noisy meat market. Pretty little things danced in front of the band and seem oblivious of the people trying to pass by, and too many people hung around like vultures waiting for other parties to leave their tables. We had to shout at one another as the band was too loud and I remained sober as our waitress was too busy to take our orders. I won’t be back.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, and my last, on a Saturday night in April 2012
TTC information: about a minute’s walk north of Eglinton Station
Booze selection: 18 beers including Magners cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard, but fairly extensive, their menu is online
Service staff: good
Prices: okay
Toilets: one of the toilets in the ladies was broken
Patio: nope, but the windows at the front open wide
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Televisions: five
Live music: every night and way too loud
Piped-in music: can’t recall

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

The Queen’s Legs

The Queen’s Legs 
286 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto ON M4R 1B2 (on the north side, between Avenue Road and Oriole Parkway) 416-481-3555
Google Maps

The Queen’s Legs could be a great pub, but no one wants to make the effort.

I have been to the Queen’s Legs probably more than any other pub in Toronto as I used to live literally within stumbling distance of it. It was our neighbourhood pub, we’d go on weekends for brunch, we’d meet there after my better half’s late night shifts, we even had our pre-wedding booze-up there. However, before we moved away from the area in the summer of 2005, we stopped going. One night, I arranged to meet with my beau at the Queen’s Legs and we sat in our usual spot for 20 minutes without being served. We walked out and have only been back two or three times since.

Anyway, we decided to go back to the Queen’s Legs as we were in the neighbourhood recently. It looks like the ownership has changed again. There’s now an elevated area in the front, almost like a wooden patio, but the tables and wooden chairs look like they haven’t been updated in years. The walls are still covered with brass plates and poems by devoted regulars dedicated to the pub. The pub has a pool table and darts at the back, and on Thursday nights, there’s poker. The bar was surrounded by regulars, who all seemed to know one another. As we left, I felt a little sad as the Queen’s Legs, given the neighbourhood, could be a great pub, but it seems that no one wants to make the effort.

Number of visits by yours truly: a hundred or so, most recently on a Saturday afternoon in April 2012
TTC information: a 10-minute walk west of Eglinton Station. You can take the Avenue Road South bus, the Eglinton West bus, or the Avenue Road North, which all drop you near the pub, but given the chronic congestion between Oriole and Avenue on Eglinton, I would walk if it’s near rush hour
Booze selection: a dozen or so, but they ran out of Barking Squirrel at 5:30 on a Saturday afternoon. Magners cider in cans (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: lots of stirfrys
Service staff: not bad, but has been terrible in the past
Prices: reasonable
Toilets: a time capsule from the previous century. The pictures are unchanged in almost 15 years and I am pretty sure they are using the same combination of cleaners as the toilets smell the same
Patio: none, but the windows at the front open up to create that patio feeling
Wheelchair accessible: toilets downstairs, so no
Televisions: three
Live music: Fridays
Piped-in music: Whitney Houston’s greatest hits

Rating: three (out of five)

The Duke of Kent

The Duke of Kent (website, Twitter)
2315 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4P 2C6 (on the east side, just north of Eglinton Avenue on Yonge Street at Roehampton Avenue) 416-485-9507
Google Maps

One of the more English pubs in Toronto and one of the better Duke pubs.

According to a dear friend of mine, the Duke of Kent Pub is not the place to go on a Friday evening. Older men crowd the doorway, drinking with their elbows sticking out, and ignoring all but the most insistent — but always polite — requests to move so you can pass. The penultimate time I was there, it was a weekday afternoon, rather empty, and we had a lovely time with no elbows at the ready and good service — this is after all a Duke pub and service is something I often find lacking with them. The last time we went to the Duke of Kent was a Saturday night and the crowd ebbed and flowed in the upstairs; it was quiet at ten, but very crowded and noisy at seven and eleven, and I had to squeeze through a few people to get to our reserved table upstairs — thank goodness there are toilets upstairs. The upstairs can get very, very loud. There are booths, which are a little big for two and a little small for four, cruiser tables, and regular tables downstairs and just regular tables upstairs, so you have your pick of seating. They have PubStumpers on Tuesday nights.

For those who enjoy a little history with their hops, the Duke of Kent is very close to the site of Montgomery’s Tavern, where part of the Upper Canada Rebellion of 1837 was fought. Montgomery’s Tavern was burned to the ground after the Battle of Montgomery’s Tavern and the building that currently stands on the site is an Art Deco building with the royal cipher “EviiiR”, one of the few buildings that honours Edward VIII, who was on the throne for less than a year. The post office that used to be at that location is now being transformed into… you guessed it… condos. However, the facade with the royal cipher is being kept.

Number of visits by yours truly: a dozen or so, most recently on a Saturday night in January 2011
TTC information: just north of Eglinton Station
Booze selection: standard Duke pub selection of approximately 30 beers, including Strongbow and Bulmers cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard pub grub
Service staff: pleasant for a Duke pub. I left my husband’s camera once and they kindly called to let us know (we’d had a reservation so they had our contact information) and I hadn’t even realized it had fallen out of my bag
Prices: expensive like all Duke pubs
Toilets: at one point the ladies’ toilet upstairs was disgusting, but it was cleaned up after a while and much better. There are only two stalls in the ladies’ toilet downstairs, which isn’t enough for such a popular watering hole
Patio: north of the pub on Roehampton
Wheelchair accessible: there isn’t a wheelchair accessible toilet so it’s not wheelchair accessible
Televisions: several, with at least one upstairs
Live music: to quote the waitress: “rarely”
Piped-in music: standard ’80s

Rating: four pints (out of five)