The Prenup Pub

the-prenup-pub-toronto

The Prenup Pub (website, Twitter)
191 College Street, Toronto ON M5T 1P9 (on the south side, between Henry Street and Beverley Street, the nearest major intersection is University Avenue and College Street) 416-506-4040
Google Maps 

Being classy on College Street.

This pub used to be Molly Bloom’s, the embodiment of the student hangout. Molly Bloom’s was in dire need of an upgrade back in 2012, so I was not surprised when it was closed down shortly after my visit and became Pour Girl, which I never got around to reviewing. Then, in late 2014, Pour Girl evolved into the Prenup Pub. When I reviewed Molly Bloom’s, I was probably the oldest person in the pub by 15 years! For this visit to the Prenup Pub, it was practically the reverse. My companion and I were surrounded by lunching professors and gaggles of public service minions. I think I saw a handful of students in the two hours or so we spent there. We were there as it was the opening of the Trinity College book sale, so what better excuse than to check out a pub!

Perhaps, in an attempt to erase the lingering stains of Molly Bloom’s, the Prenup Pub has dark wood panelling, gorgeous light fixtures, and faux leather seats of various heights. The civilized atmosphere of the renovated pub confides its student dive heritage firmly to fleeting memory. Perhaps the only drawbacks are the too-small tables and the chairs which are slightly uncomfortable. The Prenup Pub is designed with different seating configurations in mind, so large groups can be accommodated (there is also a private party room available upstairs) as well as couples. There is also a replica of the famed Manneken Pis fountain that greets one as one enters and there are fountains outside as well.

Note, the Prenup Pub is owned by the same people who run the Village Idiot PubSin & Redemption, and The Town Crier.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last on a weekday afternoon in October 2016
TTC information: just a six-minute walk west of Queen’s Park Station
Booze selection: very extensive, with approximately 130 beers including his lordship’s favourite, Leffe Brune, and several ciders, such as Rekorderlig, Cornish Gold, Strongbow, Thornbury, Somersby, and Schöfferhofer Grapefruit
Food selection: limited, but fancy
Service staff: very friendly
Prices: expensive
Toilets: nice
Patio: on the street facing north
Wheelchair accessible: no, steps at front. The patio is also not accessible
Televisions: none that we could see
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Mr. Bowie’s “Heroes”

Rating: five pints (out of five) 

Tall Boys

Tall Boys Toronto

Tall Boys (website, Twitter)
838 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M6G 1M2 (on the north side, between Carling Avenue and Shaw Street, the nearest major intersection is Ossington Avenue and Bloor Street West) 416-535-7486
Google Maps

One of Toronto’s better pubs!

A familiar name to those who read “Toronto’s best pubs” articles, Tall Boys has been around since late 2012, however it taken me all this time to review it. I must admit it’s the name that has kept me away, Tall Boys sounds cheesy, like Vickie’s Diner or a strip club. (By the way, I do know what a tall boy is.) Anyway, like any decent ancient Greek tragedy, I have been punished for my snobbery and Tall Boys was well worth the visit.

Tall Boys is one of those new-fangled hipster bars with wooden tables with lots of grey and splashes of red. Tall Boys was very popular the night in question, there was a line-up for tables, but the Toronto Raptors were in the playoffs at the time. However, it might be because according to their website, Tall Boys has ‘Toronto’s Largest Selection of Ontario Craft Beer” and “at any given time, we carry over 70 of the finest Ontario Craft Beer[s]”. Unfortunately, the Raptors lost that night, but my drinking companion and I had a good time there and will be back!

Note, cash only for bill under $20.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, on a weekday evening in late April 2016
TTC information: closer to Ossington Station (three minutes), but it’s a prettier walk from Christie Station (six minutes) 
Booze selection: their approximately 70 beers are sorted by type, which is something all pubs should do. They also have four ciders — GLB Pompous Ass; Coffin Ridge Forbidden; Pommies Farmhouse; Shiny Apple Cider
Food selection: burgers, tacos, and sandwiches. I had the Tall Boy Burger, which is three patties, as well as a fried egg and other not-standard condiments. The burger had a skewer through it to transport it and there was a hush as it honed into view of our table. I had to eat two of the three patties separately as there was no way I could have eaten the burger at once. My late father would have been so proud of me! 
Service staff: very nice
Prices: good for food, not so much for booze
Toilets: clean, but a bit smelly
Patio: an up-and-over door onto Bloor Street West
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: two
Live music: no. Comedy on some Thursdays and trivia on Mondays
Piped-in music: modern

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

The Imperial Pub

Imperial Pub Toronto

The Imperial Pub (website)
54 Dundas Street East, Toronto ON M5B 1C7 (on the north-east corner of Dundas Street East and Victoria Street, the nearest major intersection is Dundas Street and Yonge Street) 416-977-4667
Google Maps

The pub that time forgot.

The Imperial Pub is in many ways your grandparents’ pub with its old-fashioned beer mugs, bright neon beer signs, ancient carpet, antique wooden chairs, overgrown potted plants, tin ceiling, etc. It also features a circular bar with a huge aquarium inside it on the downstairs level. However, the pub comes by its retro style legitimately as it was founded in 1944. (The pub has been updated since then, but probably not in the last four or five decades.)

The Imperial Pub is in an ideal location, just steps from the Eaton Centre, Ryerson University, and Dundas Square, all of which were established after the pub was built. As such, the crowd at the Imperial is a mixture of older patrons and young students. The pub has a back room that is used for concerts and other events (I went there several times a few years ago for board game nights, which they no longer seem to do — a pub blogger can have other interests other than visiting pubs). The upstairs features a library with leather sofas, foosball and there is a jukebox that has jazz music selections.

Number of visits by yours truly: ten or so, most recently on a weekday evening in March 2015
TTC information: just a two-minute walk east from Dundas Station
Booze selection: 60 beers with Thornby cider (they don’t have Pimm’s). The beer is served in old-fashioned mugs
Food selection: not for those on a diet, but pub food as it is meant to be
Service staff: friendly, but the kitchen was a little slow with our order
Prices: inexpensive
Toilets: clean, but cramped and very minimal
Patio: rooftop with a view of Dundas Square
Wheelchair accessible: the toilets are too small for a wheelchair
Televisions: a few
Live music: sometimes and comedy on Monday nights
Piped-in music: Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, “Big band stuff”

Rating: four pints (out of five) 

Betty’s

Betty's Toronto

Betty’s (website, Twitter)
240 King Street East, Toronto ON M5A 1K1 (on the north side of King Street East, between Sherbourne Street and Princess Street) 416-368-1300
Google Maps

George Brown instructors, this is where your students are.

Betty’s is a popular haunt with George Brown College students, although it is too dark for doing one’s homework. It also draws in a varied crowd of families with young children and older men with its cheap eats, including a weekend brunch, and attention-sucking televisions showing sports, sports, sports. The uncomfortable booths fill up quickly as you can serve yourself with one of the build-in beer taps.  The walls of Betty’s are crowded with handy maps (pointing out Leicester was a breeze), photographs, beer-branded mirrors, paintings, and posters. The pub also has a pool table.

Betty’s is not the place to take your love on a first date because it’s a bit of a dive, I found a dirty knife under my booth and the table was sticky from previous clients.

Number of visits by yours truly: two or three visits, most recently in December 2014
TTC information: a two-minute ride east from King Station on the streetcar
Booze selection: I counted 72 beers including two taps at one’s booth, if you are lucky to get a booth. (You might want to get your server to pour your first pint at the booth tap so you can watch how they do it, I attempted one and got a glass full of yummy foam.) There are also flights available. For ciders/ginger beers, they have Magners, Waupoos, Keith’s, Strongbow, and Crabbie’s ginger beer (I don’t know if they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: comfort food with gluten-free options. Most other online reviewers say that you go for the beer, not for the food
Service staff: friendly and a lot of tattoos (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), but a tad forgetful, I never did find out if they had Pimm’s and our waiter had to be flagged down a couple of times
Prices: reasonable
Toilets: clean
Patio: north-facing and quite large, but there’s a skylight inside if it’s raining
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Televisions: at least four, but not that intrusive if you are trying to ignore them 
Live music: I don’t think so
Piped-in music: modern with Feist and Bedouin Soundclash

Rating: four pints (out of five)

WVRST

WVRST Toronto

WVRST (website, Twitter)
609 King Street West, Toronto ON M5V 1M5 (on the south side of King Street West, just west of Portland Street, the nearest major intersection is King Street West and Bathurst Avenue) 416-703-7775
Google Maps 

WVRST is one of the best. 

We attempted to go to WVST during June’s Cider Week, but there was a huge line-up that weekday, so we went to the nearby Bier Markt instead. However, I wasn’t willing to give up on WVRST, so we returned in the middle of a weekday afternoon when my better half was off work and we had the place practically to ourselves. Some might argue that WVRST is not a pub, that it is a modern German-style beer hall, they might have a p[o]int, but, as I’ve written before, those people can set up their own blog about pubs and let me enjoy this treasure all by myself.

WVRST has a code of conduct outside and makes a big deal about when the tapes were last cleaned, which seems to be every second week. There are only communal tables and benches or backless stools, including one table that is sort of private with a low wall around it (there is a serious lack of hooks for coats and hats, which will make things crowded in the winter). It might not be the spot for a romantic date, but it is the spot to go to for beer and sausages.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, on a weekday afternoon in August 2014
TTC information:
take the King streetcar west from King Station (seven- to ten-minute journey — according to a very optimistic TTC itinerary) or take Bathurst Streetcar south from Bathurst to King, which will take about 12 minutes and then walk east
Booze selection:
I counted 73 beers in bottles and 22 in casks, mainly Belgian (ah, Belgium, the land of beer) including lots of stouts and porters, as well as four ciders in bottles — Coffin Ridge, West Avenue, Southern Cliff, Spirit Tree — and four on tap, Hoity Toity, West Avenue, Twin Pines, and a scrumpy (no Pimm’s)
Food selection:
sausages, sausages, sausages, including kangaroo and guinea fowl (there are vegetarian choices), with fries that can be fried in duck fat and dipping sauce. You order the meal at the back of the room and they bring it to you on a metallic tray with paper liners
Service staff:
friendly
Prices:
 expensive
Toilets:
two, but only two stalls in each, which means that there is probably a line-up on busy nights
Patio:
nope
Wheelchair accessible:
nope (as up several steps)
Televisions:
a drop-down screen for some sporting events
Live music:
 nope
Piped-in music:
modern

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

Bier Markt (King West)

Bier Markt King West

Bier Markt (King West) (website, Twitter)
600 King Street West, Toronto ON M5V 1M3 (on the corner of King Street West and Portland Street, the nearest major intersection is King Street West and Bathurst Avenue) 416-862-1175
Google Maps 

A great patio on King Street West with great beers. 

We ended up at here because WVRST was full due to June’s Cider Week and I needed some liquid refreshment — stat! So, fortunately, the Bier Markt just down the street fit the bill and an evening’s plans that seemed derailed was quickly set right. My partner in crime and I had been to the location several times before when it was the Amsterdam, but we hadn’t been to it since it became a Bier Markt. We sat on the patio, which I usually avoid, however, the weather was so nice, I risked a tan and agreed to a spot on the patio. We enjoyed a free beer sample and enjoyed the people and car watching.

The Bier Markt is very dark inside, in part because it is in a basement, like her sister pub on the Esplanade. Is this a branding attempt? Seating is varied downstairs with high top tables with backless stools and tables against a brick wall. All in all, a decent pub with lots of beer.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a weekday afternoon in June 2014
TTC information:
take the King streetcar west from King Station (seven- to ten-minute journey — according to a very optimistic TTC itinerary) or take Bathurst Streetcar south from Bathurst to King, which will take about 12 minutes and then walk east
Booze selection:
well over 100 beers from around the world, with a focus on Belgian beers. As always with a selection this large, be prepared for a back-up order as they might be out of your first choice. For those who are cider drinkers, they have Somersby, Blackthorn, Magners, two types of Rekorderligs and the nectar that is Crabbie’s (alas, no Pimm’s)
Food selection:
fancy end with oysters, risotto and beer can chicken soup 
Service staff:
good, however, this news story about the front-of-house female staff having to wear skimpy outfits might be something to keep in mind. Yes, they changed the policy, but they still had it and enforced it until people complained. I am not impressed with sexism with my booze  
Prices:
 expensive for the most part. However, it is cheaper for some beers
Toilets:
nice, watch for the hidden ledge on the way to the toilet, I can see people stumbling over that in the darkness
Patio:
west and one of the best in downtown, great for people watching
Wheelchair accessible:
no
Televisions:
three
Live music:
 DJ on Wednesdays/something on Thursdays/live rock on Fridays/something on Saturdays (alas their website is useless at explaining what is happening on Thursdays and Saturdays) 
Piped-in music:
modern

Rating: four pints (out of five) 

Tequila Bookworm

Tequila Bookworm Toronto

Tequila Bookworm (website, Twitter
512 Queen Street West, Toronto ON M5V 2B3 (on the north side, between Ryerson Avenue and Denison Avenue, if coming north on Portland Avenue, it’s directly ahead) 416-504-2334
Google Maps 

Cider Mecca.

I belong to a cider appreciation society (it’s more a loose collective, but you get the idea) and it was through a recent event organized by the illustrious founder that I learned of Tequila Bookworm and their 16 ciders. Yes, 16 ciders. (By the way, I knew of Tequila Bookworm before the cider social, despite its attempts to hide with little to no signage, but I’d never gone in as I was usually on the way to somewhere else.) I have a feeling that Tequila Bookworm’s selection of ciders and beers rotate on a regular basis, so I won’t date this post with a current list, but apparently they go for the local stuff.

Tequila Bookworm is technically not a pub, it’s more a café, but as I’ve said in the past, if you don’t agree with me, you’re more than welcome to start your own blog. There are books along the top of the walls near the ceiling and it’s pretty crowded downstairs with lots of movable tables. Apparently they have free wifi, which is probably a bad idea as people don’t chat and don’t drink. Upstairs, there was a bordello red room with comfy seats leading to the patio and another room with old bus (?) chairs and a long bar.

(For Orphan Black fans, I am pretty sure this pub features in the eighth episode of the first season as an outside shot at the top of the road where Sarah’s mum lives.)

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, on a Thursday evening in March 2013
TTC information: a six-minute streetcar ride (that’s what the TTC says) eastbound from Osgoode Station, or take the Spadina Street streetcar south from Spadina Station, which will drop you after a nine-minute ride at Queen Street West
Booze selection: 12 beers, a number of scotches and whiskeys, and 16 ciders — seriously (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: lots of hamburgers 
Service staff: very good
Prices: good for food
Toilets: could have been better, but could have been worse
Patio: upstairs at the back and tiny one at the front during the summer, the window at the front is an up-and-over door, so you might not be on the patio, but you can pretend
Wheelchair accessible:
toilets downstairs, so nope
Televisions: none
Live music: DJ some nights
Piped-in music: modern, I have no idea what was playing. You know you’re old when…

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