Burdock

burdock-toronto

Burdock (website, Twitter)
1184 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M6H 1N2 (on the north side, at the corner of Pauline Avenue and Bloor Street West, the nearest major intersection is Dufferin Street and Bloor Street West) 416-546-4033
Google Maps

Hip and happenin’ in Bloordale. 

Although Burdock does not brand itself a pub, I am going to review it as it does have a microbrewery and more beers on offer than meals on the menu. (I’m not complaining.) Burdock opened in 2015 and billed itself as a restaurant, a microbrewery with beer-to-go service, and a live venue. So far, this politician’s approach of being everything to everyone seems to be working for Burdock.

Anyway, this review is of the restaurant/pub part of Burdock as the music venue was not accessible. There is limited seating in the pub, with only one table able to accommodate more than five people, but it is a lovely space with fancy tiles, which are apparently left over from the former restaurant there, assorted hanging plants, and clean white surfaces. On a recent Saturday night, we walked by Burdock and noticed that the establishment was very crowded.

Burdock does not take reservations and opens at five, so lunch will have to be found somewhere else. However, the beer-to-shop opens at eleven.

Number of visits by yours truly: two visits so far, my most recent in November 2016 on a weekday evening
TTC information: just a three-minute walk west of Dufferin Station 
Booze selection: 16 beers with rotating selections of their own brews. They also have cider and wine, but no Pimm’s
Food selection: fancy with a limited number of selections, but a high portion of vegetarian choices. The portions are small
Service staff: nice, but a bit aloof (for my latest visit I was the only person who was not seated at the bar shortly after five and when I sat down at a table for four, I was asked how many people were joining me. I said one more, and I explained that I was leaving before seven, so I was allowed to remain. I later noticed another small group dumped their coats at a second table, but did not appear to be chastened. Perhaps I still give off that bad-girl whiff of trouble.)
Prices: expensive
Toilets: downstairs, nice with tiles and wallpaper
Patio: east and very large
Wheelchair accessible: no, toilets are downstairs and steps at the front
Televisions: nope
Live music: every night, often two shows a night in a separate “acoustically panelled room”. Note, there could be a cover charge
Piped-in music: Dido/Portishead-like music

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

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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)

Originals Ale House

Originals Ale House Toronto

Originals Ale House (website, Twitter)
1660 Bayview Avenue, Toronto ON M4G 3C2 (on the west side, between Hillsdale Avenue East and Manor Road East, the nearest major intersection is Bayview Avenue and Eglinton Avenue East) 416-481-0371
Google Maps

The spot for sports on Bayview.

I mount my soapbox. Is it Original’s (as per the receipt and the Facebook page) or Originals sans apostrophe (as per the pub sign and the website)? The present menu also has typos. I step down from soapbox.

So, I think I went to Originals (without the apostrophe) years ago before I started this blog. All I can recall is a moment of schadenfreude with someone who I vaguely know and ran into there. I also went there last autumn to meet with a friend whose son was at Sunnybrook Hospital for a long-scheduled operation. I felt under the circumstances that I should not do a review of the pub while we ate our meal as it was my job to distract and entertain her while she took a break.

Anyway, Originals has been around since the early 1980s and as such has regulars, however, we were there late on a Saturday afternoon and the pub was pretty empty. The pub is decorated with old advertisements hung on exposed brick walls and has a variety of seating. There’s an upstairs at Originals, along with dart boards and a pool table. It’s okay, but not outstanding.

Number of visits by yours truly: my third visit, I think, most recently on a weekend evening in May 2016
TTC information: take the Bayview bus north from Davisville Station (10 minutes) or take one of the eastbound buses from Eglinton Station (10 minutes), the pub is just a five-minute walk south from Eglinton
Booze selection: more than 30 beers, mostly craft brews, including Brickworks and Strongbow cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: burgers, sandwiches, pizza, along with brunch on the weekends
Service staff: good
Prices: decent
Toilets: reasonable
Patio: on the street facing east and rather small
Wheelchair accessible: nope as the toilets are downstairs
Televisions: 12 televisions!
Live music: usually on Thursdays and Saturdays (check the website for details)
Piped-in music: The Kinks, Supertramp, Frank Zappa, The Eagles

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

DeSotos

DeSotos Toronto

DeSotos (website)
1079 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto ON (on the south side, between Lauder Avenue and Glenholme Avenue) 416-651-2109
Google Maps 

The place to be on St. Clair West.

When my better half and I finally gave up on the nearby Fox and Fiddle, we decided that we had to find another place that served decent food and had half-decent service on St. Clair West. We quickly found DeSotos and were very happy, until the second time we went there and found that the place was closed for a private party. (The service there now leaves much to be desired, so the search continues.) We had checked that very day that DeSotos was open on its website (as it was a Monday) and there was no notice. I would have checked their Twitter feed, however, their Twitter feed is private — why? I even looked at their Facebook page and nothing. Anyway, we had to go back to the Fox and Fiddle even though we were not happy there.

DeSotos is an interesting pub, it has apothecary jars, seltzer bottles, an aquarium, an old-fashioned fan, typewriter, cash register, and, inside a bookcase, a copy of Playboy Blondes. The pub is split into two rooms and has lots of dark wood, but it is quite bright nevertheless. Larger groups can be accommodated, but don’t be surprised if they can’t take care of your request at the last minute. Unfortunately, the pub is very kid-friendly. (Don’t worry, I already know I will die alone, unloved, and unmourned.)

Number of visits by yours truly: three or four, my most recent in August 2015
TTC information: a 20-minute streetcar ride (that’s what the TTC says) westbound from St Clair Station, or take the Dufferin bus north from Dufferin Station, which will drop you after a seven-minute ride at St Clair West and just a quick walk east from there
Booze selection: 11 craft beers with Strongbow cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: Italian pizza, burgers, oysters, with aspirations to be a gastropub
Service staff: neglectful at times (on our most recent visit, I didn’t tip as the waiter took 10 minutes to clear our plates and we waited another 10 for the credit card machine, I gave up and went to the bar and was informed that he had other customers. I can’t remember the last time I didn’t tip)
Prices: decent
Toilets: the locks are flimsy and it’s a little cramped
Patio: north and west, both on the street
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: one near the bar and a pull-down screen for television events
Live music: jazz on Sundays
Piped-in music: mellow “Delta blues” according to my better half

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

Local 1794

Local 1794 Toronto

Local 1794 (website, Twitter)
1794 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4C 1H8 (on the north side, between Woodington Avenue and Glebemount Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Coxwell Avenue and Danforth Avenue) 416-463-1794
Google Maps 

Proof that someone reads my blog and also knows that East Danforth needs more good pubs! 

Local 1794, apparently owned by the former proprietors of nearby Taps & Tales, opened earlier this year in January in an area that is now filling with pubs (Wren, Morgans, the Borough, and Sarah’s). I am personally delighted as this part of Toronto has been crying out for more pubs for a decade or more.

Local 1794 features a long wooden bar with seating for about 20 people and the booths have their own electrical outlets and Apple ports. There is also regular table seating and elevated bench and high top tables. The walls feature a suspended fireplace at the back and large old black-and-white pictures of Toronto. There is an area at the back of Local 1794 that can be reserved for larger groups.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last on a weekday afternoon in April 2015
TTC information: equidistant between Coxwell and Woodbine stations, a five-minute walk east from the former and a six-minute walk from the latter
Booze selection: more than 40 beers, with a focus on Ontario craft beers, as well as Magners and Strongbow cider (they have Pimm’s). They also have scotches and lots of wine
Food selection: gastropub with specials such as “lobster, shrimp, and spinach terrine with lobster bisque lemon beurre blanc sauce” and pizza from a wood-burning stove. The menu, which is online, is presented on a clipboard-like device using (Canadian) Robertson screws
Service staff: good and in fancy attire, our waiter made a beer suggestion a beer for our second round and made a good choice for us
Prices: not bad
Toilets: clean (no toilet paper in either stall and we arrived early enough that I knew the toilets hadn’t been checked before opening, our waiter did rush in with bog roll after I let him know — can’t let the sisterhood down)
Patio: south-facing and an up-and-over door for that yummy car exhaust flavour inside
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: two, one playing an old gangster movie from the 1930s
Live music: considering having at brunch
Piped-in music: modern

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

Mullins Irish Pub (Bay)

Mullins Bay Toronto

Mullins Irish Pub (Bay) (website)
1033 Bay Street, Toronto ON M5S 3A5 (on the south-east corner of Bay Street and Irwin Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Bay Street and Wellesley Street West) 416-963-3000
Google Maps

A friendly spot for a pint.

Mullins on Bay is a little run-down (it looks like a 1980s basement with wood everywhere and it’s about the same size as one), but this doesn’t detract from the pub’s popularity with its regulars. In fact, the four-seater snug is named after one such regular who apparently spent many, many happy hours there. Mullins on Bay likely survives due to its location near UofT’s Victoria and St. Michael’s Colleges and being north on Bay Street close for its high-rolling workers. Given its clientele of students and professionals, and its rather homely appearance, Mullins on Bay is not the place for a first date (unless you don’t really think you’ll be getting a second one), but it is the type of place that you might meet an old friend or two for a pint after a hard day on the stock market or to celebrate getting a A+ on your history paper on why Henry Tudor had the Princes in the Tower, err… removed.

Mullins is one of a chain of pubs, with one on College Street and another on Kingston Road, so be sure to note which location you and your companions are meeting at.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a Saturday afternoon in August 2014
TTC information: a five-minute walk northwest from Wellesley Station or a six-minute walk south from Bay. You could try catching the Bay bus from Bay station, but given the traffic, you should probably walk
Booze selection: 10 on tap and 12 in bottles, as well as Magners cider, both original and pear (yes, they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: custom pizzas, they don’t have a deep fryer (the shame!) so everything is baked and basic. Apparently they also do catering, but it seems that everyone does these days
Service staff: friendly
Prices: not bad
Toilets: crowded with empties
Patio: to the north
Wheelchair accessible: too narrow
Televisions: three
Live music: Wednesdays
Piped-in music: Bryan Adams, Led Zeppelin, U2

Rating: three and 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)