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) 

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) 

The Town Crier

The Town Crier (website)
115 John Street, Toronto ON M5V 2E2 (on the east side, between Nelson Street and Adelaide Street West, the nearest major intersection is Richmond Street West and University Avenue) 416-204-9588
Google Maps

A delightful pub close to Queen Street West and the Theatre District!

I must admit I have become a little jaded when it comes to pubs, which is not surprising given my mandate to seek out new pubs and new taverns, to boldly go where no TorontoPubs blogger has gone before, and to report weekly. I am starting to visit pubs I have previously avoided as it feels a little like I am running out of unreviewed pubs. So it’s rather nice to go to a new pub and feel a little of that ol’ pub sparkle.

The Town Crier was better than expected for a number of reasons apart from my check list below — dark red walls with gilt crown mouldings, dark wood panelling, lovely light fixtures, and (warm) leatherette chairs. The only criticisms I have of the pub, apart from the situation in the ladies’ toilet (see below), is that the tables are very small, so that it felt a little cramped and that there is no air conditioning, however, they have tonnes of fans, so they do their best to make their patrons comfortable. We will be back.

Note, this pub is owned by the same people who run the Village Idiot Pub and Sin & Redemption and there is a large upstairs area, which can be reserved as a private party room.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last on a weekday evening in September 2012
TTC information: a seven-minute walk west and south from Osgoode Station or west and north from St. Andrew Station
Booze selection: almost 100 beers from around the world, including Leffe Brune and four ciders — Somersby, Thornby, Sir Perry, and Blackthorn (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: German focus with a twist (which was rather nice for my better half who had just come from the Fatherland and was pining for the cuisine)
Service staff: very good
Prices: not bad for the size of the servings
Toilets: unfortunately, the toilets were very messy on my most recent visit (2012.11.11). The ladies’ toilet stall on the outside wall might be best to avoid when the window is open as the person using the stall might give a show to the people who live across the way. Just saying…
Patio: west-facing Hooters, for some this might be considered a bonus
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Televisions: none
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Feist, Neil Young

Rating: five pints (out of five) 

Bier Markt (Esplanade)

Bier Markt (Esplanade) (website, Twitter)
58 The Esplanade, Toronto ON M5E 1R2 (on the north side, between Church Street and Scott Street) 416-862-7575
Google Maps 

Surrounded by other booze holes, the Bier Markt manages to stand apart. 

For some reason I have avoided going to the Bier Markt chain (there’s one on King West and another in the Shops at Don Mills) since starting this blog. The Bier Markt doesn’t have that je ne sais quoi that proper pubs have (I still haven’t distilled what that is), but it is a decent place for a pint as the extensive beer list is what sets it apart and it does take one’s breath away. Perhaps my avoidance has been because I know that most of my readers already know about it.

We went to the Bier Markt (Esplanade) as we were going to a wedding at the St. Lawrence Hall that afternoon and decided to celebrate before the celebrations began. The Bier Markt suffers a bit from an identity crisis, the front looks like a fancy restaurant, but there is an area at the back has huge speakers that would not look out of place at a concert. These said speakers are in front of a 16th-century mural (Pieter Bruegel’s The Peasant Dance), so that adds to the confusion. The tables are covered in white dining cloths with candles, but there are wooden benches for large groups. Plus, it’s dark, almost suspiciously so, however, I found the place to be clean and precise in its execution.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a Saturday afternoon in July 2012
TTC information:
equidistant from Union and King, one block south of Front after passing Yonge Street
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 Thornbury, Somersby, Sir Perry, Blackthorn, Rekorderlig and Rekorderlig elderflower (no Pimm’s)
Food selection:
okay 
Service staff:
slow, I actually started to get nervous that we would miss the wedding ceremony as our waitress kept disappearing. 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, but look where you are. However, it is cheaper for some beers
Toilets:
good
Patio:
south and quite large
Wheelchair accessible:
yes
Televisions:
two in our section
Live music:
 Thursdays to Sundays, check the website for details
Piped-in music:
can’t remember — sorry

Rating: four pints (out of five) 

Bedford Academy

Bedford Academy (website, Twitter)
36 Prince Arthur Avenue, Toronto ON M5R 1A9 (on the north side, between Avenue Road and Bedford Avenue, one block north of Bloor Street West) 416-921-4600
Google Maps 

The Bedford Academy could be a great pub, but settles on being a reasonable watering hole instead. 

Over the years, the Bedford Academy has benefitted from the poor service of the Duke of York. The Duke has a problem with some staff members’ attentiveness and bookings or rather lack thereof and as a result, I’ve gathered my belongings and moved across the street to the Bedford. For a while we went to the Bedford — which was close to my beloved’s old work place —  instead of the Duke, but, alas, service seems to be a problem for both establishments. I remember on at least one occasion being ignored at the Duke, going to the Bedford instead, and being ignored there too. (I was sober — could it have been the worst half hour of my life?) I’ve been to the Bedford enough times to know that I would rather go somewhere else.

However, focussing on the times I have been served at the Bedford Academy, I have enjoyed myself. The pub is in a huge old house sprawling over three floors (the top floor has a private party room) featuring soft orange lighting, olive-coloured walls, Art Nouveau chandeliers, and a European flavour. The seating inside is varied, although I have spent most of my hours on the enormous patio of the Bedford. The Bedford benefits from its close proximity to UofT with its clientele and is open until two seven nights a week.

Number of visits by yours truly: two dozen or more visits, most recently in June 2012
TTC information: St. George Station’s east exit, within stumbling distance
Booze selection: 19 beers on tap, including Strongbow cider. They also have lots of wine (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: lots of burgers and pastas
Service staff: good this visit 
Prices: reasonable for being so close to Yorkville
Toilets: clean
Patio: one of the larger patios (seats more than 180) in central Toronto, you’ve got a lot of selection of locations as the patio wraps around the building 
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: not as many as you might expect
Live music: no
Piped-in music: jazz and blues

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

The Cloak and Dagger

The Cloak and Dagger (Twitter)
394 College Street, Toronto ON M5T 1S7 (on the north side, between Croft Street and Borden Street, the nearest major intersection is Bathurst Street and College Street) 416-921-8308
Google Maps 

This pub is brought to you by Guinness.

It’s frustrating going to a pub with lots of cash on you that’s begging to be spent on booze, taxes, and tips, sitting down and wondering why nothing is happening. The Cloak and Dagger Pub doesn’t have table service and it took another customer walking all the way from the other end of the bar to our table to tell us. I know that a number of Toronto pubs follow the Irish model of bar service which is all fine and dandy, I rather like it myself, but it can be confusing if you don’t know what’s going on. A little sign on the table saying “Please come to the bar as there is no table service” might go a long, long way to easing future returning customers into the pub’s customs instead of alienating one-time potential customers.

The Cloak and Dagger, just to the north of Kensington Market, is very dark and loud, and filled with well-meaning hipsters, who are likely regulars. The pub has a piano, bar stools, and lots of booths that seat six or fewer, if you are a party of eight, don’t bother to sit inside. The brick walls are covered with beer advertising. This pub was chosen as one of Toronto’s top pubs in NOW and once again, I disagree with them. I’m also docking pints in the rating for the pub serving “Irish Car Bombs.”

Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a Saturday evening in February 2012
TTC information: a six-minute ride south from Bathurst Station, and then a two-minute walk east, or take the College Streetcar from Queen’s Park Station, which will drop you after a seven-minute ride at College and Borden
Booze selection: I counted 23 on tap, including Leffe Brune and Strongbow cider, apparently they have a number of bottled beers too (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: currently they only serve food Tuesday to Friday, five to ten, and Sundays, two to eight, so as we were there on a Saturday, I have no idea what the food is like
Service staff: see above. However, the bartender apparently recommended certain drinks to the lads as they did the drink ordering at the bar
Prices: affordable as you don’t have to tip (if you are going to follow the custom of no table service, you shouldn’t have to tip either)
Toilets: not very nice
Patio: apparently there is a patio at the back, but it was a cold evening and I think it might have been closed
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Televisions: one
Live music: seven nights a week
Piped-in music: hillbilly, Velvet Underground

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

The Pour House

The Pour House Irish Pub (website, Twitter)
182 Dupont Avenue, Toronto ON M5R 2E6 (on the north side, between Huron Street and St. George Street, the nearest major intersection is Dupont Avenue and Davenport Road) 416-967-7687
Google Maps

Your local in the Toronto fiefdom of Casa Loma.

We have come to the Pour House a number of times over this pub’s lifetime; on the way to see a Tarragon Theatre production (they are only an 11-minute walk away according to Google); after helping friends move; and on our way from Spadina House.

The Pour House underwent a facelift over the summer of 2015 and raided a local lumber yard for its version of wallpaper. The Pour House seems to attract a younger crowd, as it is just minutes from George Brown College’s Casa Loma Campus.

Update June 2012: The Pour House has subsequently lost a pint in its original rating as both my better half and I have had poor service at the pub on two separate occasions since this review. My better half was left unattended for 20 minutes at the end of his meal and eventually had to go up to the bar to request his bill, while I went in for a quick pint and was ignored by both waitresses several times and the barman was nowhere to be found, I eventually walked out stone cold sober.

Number of visits by yours truly: four or five visits, most recently on a weekday evening in February 2012
TTC information: just a three-minute walk east of Dupont Station
Booze selection: 17 beers, including Strongbow cider (no Pimm’s). Apparently they will have Leffe Brune
Food selection: new world Irish and pizza
Service staff: see coda above
Prices: expensive
Toilets: fine
Patio: north and a rooftop patio
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: several, but none were visible where I was sitting
Live music: Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights
Piped-in music: Phil Collins’ goth-inspired “In The Air Tonight” (still gives me goosebumps). Perhaps written after an evening of regrets, absinthe, incense, and four loads of black laundry. (Much better than the rubbish the boozehounds at the far table were playing aloud on their bloody iPod-y thingy. Gentlemen, ear buds were a step forward for civilization!)

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