Crown and Dragon

crown-and-dragon-toronto

Crown and Dragon (website, Twitter)
890 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4W 3P4 (on the west side, between Church Street and Frichot Avenue, the nearest intersection is Yonge Street and Davenport Road) 416-927-7976
Google Maps

Canadian Basement Gothic.

Crown and Dragon (they seem to dislike the definite article) has been on my radar for a number of years, but I’ve always kept on walking as it doesn’t really seem that inviting and given its location, it’s more the destination than a drop-in spot. (It’s also beside the prettiest facade in all of Toronto — the former Ridpath’s, the facade is being partially retained in the building’s next reincarnation.) The patio for (the) Crown and Dragon is cramped, the televisions all show sports, there is a faint leakage from the Yorkville crowd, it’s loud, and it’s a lads’ pub. That said, I did go back to Crown and Dragon and I will go there again if I happen to be thirsty and nearby.

There seemed to be a lot of regulars and a cacophony of cackling hags the first evening we went to (the) Crown and Dragon. There is a variety of seating in the pseudo basement-styled pub, with benches and movable tables, and high-top tables, and its dartboards, but it’s crowded or cramped depending on the time of day. However, Crown and Dragon’s claim towards “the art of pub” (again, missing the definite article) is a bit pompous for a place that isn’t that inviting and lacking a wide selection of drinks, more like the art of basement bar.

Number of visits by yours truly: two visits, most recently on a weekday afternoon in December 2016
TTC information: a four-minute walk north from Bloor-Yonge Station or a six-minute walk south of Rosedale
Booze selection: 11 beers including Strongbow cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: this pub is known for its wings and lays claim to “Toronto’s Best Wings”. (We were not impressed with the wings, but we are in the minority.) These said wings are available in unusual flavors, such as Classic Coke, Foghorn Leghorn, Bloody Mary, and Killer Bee. They also have other pub classics on their menu
Service staff: a bit negligent
Prices: expensive
Toilets: clean, but cobwebs on the ceiling and a bit scary around the toilet near the floor. Apparently the men’s has the sports page pinned next to the urinal
Patio: rather small, east and on Yonge Street
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: six, all showing sports
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Virgin Radio

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

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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)

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) 

The Friar (A Firkin Pub)

Friar and Firkin Toronto


The Friar (A Firkin Pub)
(website)
160 John Street, Toronto ON M5V 2E5 (on the west side of John Street, just south of Queen Street West, the nearest major intersection is Queen Street West and University Avenue) 416-340-9459
Google Maps

The Firkin’s take on a Queen Street West pub.

Way back, when I was cool (or at least tried and sometimes succeeded) I sometimes hung out on Queen Street West in the late 1980s/early 1990s. I know I went to this watering hole for drinks over the years as it’s a good central spot and I seem to recall it was never too busy, however, when this one became a Firkin, I can’t recall. This Firkin is located across the way from the iconic 299 Queen Street West building where MuchMusic (“the nation’s music station” as I remember it) broadcasts and, now in my dotage, it’s important to me today that this pub is near a Michaels (at John and Richmond).

The Friar (and Firkin) is one of the smaller Toronto Firkins, possibly even smaller than the nearby Flatiron and Firkin and the Fox and Firkin (which for some reason I have never reviewed) on Eglinton. Despite being rebranded with the whole heartless Cool Britannia look in the last couple of years, the Friar (and Firkin) still has some of that nice dark warm pub feeling, which hasn’t been surgically removed. This is probably due to the fact that this Firkin is in the basement, so the darkness and tiny windows make this difficult, thank goodness. The pub offers a variety of seating — booths, benches, tables, etc. — but large groups will have trouble finding a spot without a reservation. This pub is quiet in comparison to other Firkins, which is ironic given its location.

Number of visits by yours truly: a dozen or so, most recently on a weekend evening in September 2015
TTC information: five-minute walk west from Osgoode Station, no point in waiting for the streetcar as it will probably be full!
Booze selection: more than a dozen, including Somersby, 501 Queen Street, and Brickworks ciders (they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard Firkin pub grub with lots of sandwiches and wraps
Service staff: good
Prices: decent
Toilets: not bad at all
Patio: small one on the street facing east
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: at least seven
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Selena Gomez and Blue Rodeo, together at last

Rating: four pints (out of five)

The House on Parliament

House on Parliament Toronto

The House on Parliament (website, Twitter)
454 Parliament Street, Toronto ON M5A 2H6 (on the east side, between Doctor O Lane and Woodward Evans Lane, the nearest major intersection is Gerrard Street East and Parliament Street) 416-961-9425
Google Maps 

A slice of London in Cabbagetown.

If you are looking for a classy pub in Toronto’s Cabbagetown, then look no further than the House on Parliament. It has a variety of comfy seats, tin ceiling squares under glass as your tabletop, two patios, big portions, and lots of London-themed images, including a huge map of old London (I’m guessing early 18th century) and what appears to be a Churchill corner (no objections here). The pub is rather small and both times as we left the pub, there was a line-up for the table. I got the impression that the pub was popular with the locals as it seems that we were the only people who the servers did not know.

Unfortunately, the overwhelming memory of the House on Parliament pub is that it’s loud, however, it was busy both times we were there and we were in the lower part of the pub and as such we did not stay as long as we wanted. Perhaps a strategically placed rug or two might make things easier on the ears, but what do I know?

Number of visits by yours truly: my second, but not my last, on a weekend afternoon in May 2014
TTC information: a seven-minute ride eastbound from College Station on the Carlton streetcar or a six-minute ride southbound from Castle Frank Station on the Parliament bus
Booze selection: 20 beers, with lots of red and white wine, and Waupoos cider (yes, they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: big servings. The menu is online
Service staff: good, but it seems that a number of online reviews think that the servers could be more attentive
Prices: expensive, but large portions
Toilets: nice
Patio: on the street and upstairs at the back
Wheelchair accessible: nope as toilets are accessible only by stairs
Televisions: two with one over the bar
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: INXS/Modern English/XTC/”Jaan Pehechaan Ho” (that song from Gumnaam/Ghost World)

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

Mullins Irish Pub (College)

Mullins Pub Toronto

Mullins Irish Pub (College) (website, Twitter)
537 College Street, Toronto ON M6G 1A9 (on the south-west corner of College Street and Euclid Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Bathurst Street and College Street) 416-972-6859
Google Maps

Decent little pub in the heart of Little Italy.

The evening in question had started with my faithful pub companion and me deciding upon the Monarch Tavern as the scene of our next adventure. However, that plan crashed and burned after we went inside said tavern — after first trying the fake front door — and taking in the (lack of) atmosphere of the upstairs bar, a too-loud radio station blared away and a number of people standing around with the only light being cast from neon drink advertisements. It was truly a tavern. So we fell outside into the fizzy night and came across Mullins. The evening improved dramatically (in part because our friend joined us there).

Mullins is one of a chain of pubs, so be sure to note which location you and your companions are meeting at. This location on College has only been around for a few years,. This Mullins is rather small, it is not pretentious and it has a number of regulars. Towards the end of the evening, it filled up quite a lot with customers considering what a bitter night it was outside. It has a snug made for about seven made from old doors. There is also a rather large party room at the back.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, on a Saturday night in January 2014
TTC information: a six-minute ride south from Bathurst Station or take the College streetcar from College Station, which will drop you after a 12-minute ride at Euclid
Booze selection: dozen or so beers, including Foundry and Magners cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard offerings — nachos with chorizo and mac and cheese
Service staff: very good
Prices: good, the Amsterdam beers were $5 each that night
Toilets: nice, but a little stinky with that distinctive basement smell
Patio: east-facing and rather small
Wheelchair accessible: not really as the toilets are in the basement
Televisions: three
Live music: Wednesdays
Piped-in music: music appeared to be on a loop as we heard the same songs (Fleetwood Mac, Grateful Dead, Phil Collins) over and over

Rating: four pints (out of five)

Pauper’s Pub

Pauper's Pub Toronto

Pauper’s Pub (website, Twitter)
539 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M5S 1Y5 (on the south side, between Lippincott Avenue and Loretto Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Bloor Street West and Bathurst Street) 416-530-1331
Google Maps

I have an uneasy relationship with Pauper’s and it’s not just because they can’t decide if they have an apostrophe in the name. I first heard of Pauper’s (I choose the apostrophe) back in the late ’90s, as it was the destination of choice for my better half’s colleagues. Over the years, I had my own invitations as the pub is centrally located, has darts, lots of space (but fixed seating), and a decent enough selection of beers. The pub is quite large with two floors, a rooftop patio, as well as a ground-floor patio. Like many pubs in Toronto, it used to be a bank, so it has high ceilings and the vault is now actually a snug. However, I have twice received poor, or, to be more accurate, no service at Pauper’s. Both times, the couples to the north and south of us were served, but we appeared to be in a no-man’s land. The first time this happened we left after nearly passing out due to dehydration. The second time I walked up to the bar and ordered a drink for myself and my companion, which I paid for there and took back to my seat, consumed, and then left immediately afterwards.

Having reviewed more than 100 pubs, I went back to Pauper’s recently to see if we could break the curse and review somewhere new for the blog. We were surprised to be served and also served well. However, the only reason we went was to give it a third chance. Ironically, we also went to the Only Cafe that same day to see if their service had improved and it was just as bad (see my Sarah’s review for details). That said, I would recommend the nearby Victory Cafe instead as I don’t know if it was a glitch in Pauper’s system.

Number of visits by yours truly: half a dozen visits, most recently on a weekend in September 2013
TTC information: about three minutes from Bathurst Station
Booze selection: 40 beers including Somersby, Strongbow, and Magners ciders (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: very standard pub grub
Service staff: good, for once (see above)
Prices: cheap for beer
Toilets: cramped and downstairs. The stairs are very steep, so watch yourself after a couple of drinks
Patio: east-facing and a rooftop patio
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Televisions: at least four in our section
Live music: open mike and live music on some night. See the website for details
Piped-in music: all ’80s including the Spoons’ “Nova Heart” and Michael Sembello’s “Maniac”

Rating: three pints (out of five)