The Two-Headed Dog

The Two-Headed Dog (website)
1469 Gerrard Street East, Toronto ON M4L 2A1 (on the south side, between Rhodes Avenue and Craven Road, the nearest major intersection is Gerrard Street East and Coxwell Avenue) 416-461-1798
Google Maps

A decent pub in Toronto’s Little India. 

In keeping with the recent reviews of pubs with animal-inspired names (Thirsty Fox PubCrown and Dragon, and The Thirsty Duck), I decided to head back to the Two-Headed Dog pub (which doesn’t use the hyphen in its title, but it should!), which I first visited last summer while on a walk. We stopped in the then newly opened pub for a pint and we discovered that they serve butter chicken poutine, which was very good. We said to ourselves that we would return when we had a bit more time. As we were in the neighbourhood again recently, I suggest to my favourite drinking companion that we check out the pub again, which we did.

The Two-Headed Dog has a mixture of seating, with lots of four-seater booths, chairs, and benches. The walls are covered with old photographs and engravings, and it is very light with the two up-and-over doors, although the back does not offer much of a view with a parking lot. There are a lot of televisions there, but because of the placements, it was difficult to look at the screens.  There is a downstairs with a pool table. This pub is owned by the same people who run the two Queen’s Head pubs, which I have yet to review.

Number of visits by yours truly: twice so far and more to come, most recently on a weekday evening in March 2017
TTC information: a seven-minute bus ride south of Coxwell Station
Booze selection: about 10 beers, along with Strongbow cider. (They don’t have Pimm’s.)
Food selection: standard pub grub, with a few nods to the neighbours with Indian-infused dishes, such as yummy butter chicken poutine
Service staff: very nice, but the kitchen seemed slow with our order. (A number of online reviewers have found fault with the service. We didn’t have a problem, but both times we were there, the pub was not busy.)
Prices: not bad
Toilets: decent
Patio: no, but there are up-and-over doors at the front and back of the pub
Wheelchair accessible: nope, as toilets downstairs and there are stairs in the pub to the upper back level
Televisions: eight, showing either sports or CP24
Live music: very likely not
Piped-in music: James Brown, Bob Dylan, Bee Gees, Tragically Hip (or the radio, which was very loud)

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

Thirsty Fox Pub

Thirsty Fox Pub (website)
1028 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto ON M6C 2C5 (on the north side, between Old Park Road and Hilltop Road, the nearest major intersection is Eglinton Avenue West and Allen Road) 647-347-7474
Google Maps

Forest Hill’s local dive.

The Thirsty Fox Pub is the only pub along Eglinton Avenue West between Bathurst Street and Dufferin Avenue and the nearest pub is a 20-minute walk east. Hence, its popularity is no shock as the pub is full of regulars (nearly all male) and does a steady business. The Thirsty Fox has been around for about seven years, but there are still traces of the Italian restaurant that was once there with the mural in the entrance and the painted baby blue walls. The Thirsty Fox also has turn of the 20th-century Art Nouveau French prints and assorted beer mirrors. The seating is a mixture of stools and chairs, with tables that can be dragged to accommodate groups.

The Thirsty Fox is not the type of place that you would take someone for a date. The tired atmosphere and dive-like quality will not reflect well on any possible noble intentions you might have. The reason that we keep going back to the pub is that it is the only nearby one to an elderly relative’s home and the food is decent. The non-private party room has a pool table, dart boards, and a big-screen television.

Number of visits by yours truly: a dozen or so, most recently on a weekday evening in February 2017
TTC information: a seven-minute walk west of Eglinton West Station, the nearest bus stop westbound is the one just before the station, so you are better off walking
Booze selection: 10 or so beers, no cider and no Pimm’s
Food selection: burgers, pizza and decent portions, there are nightly specials
Service staff: can be good, can be bad (most recently, we wait 10 minutes to place our order as our server was playing a game in the other room)
Prices: reasonable
Toilets: not the nicest
Patio: a thin one against the up-and-over door facing south
Wheelchair accessible: toilets downstairs, so no
Televisions: at least four including a big screen one and all showing sports
Live music: doubt it
Piped-in music: The Edge radio station

Rating: three (out of five)

The Thirsty Duck

thirsty-duck-pub-toronto

The Thirsty Duck (website)
972 Queen Street East, Toronto ON M4M 1K1 (at the north-east corner of Queen Street East and Carlaw Avenue) 416-463-2303
Google Maps

A welcome addition to Leslieville. 

I learned of The Thirsty Duck Pub a few months ago as I was speeding past it in a car. I noted down the intersection (I was a passenger) and made a mental note to return. I have been back to the pub twice so far and will likely return again. The pub has been around since the autumn of 2015 and is run by the same people who own Eastside Social, which is on the same block. The pub is apparently named after a Thirsty Duck Pub on the East Coast that the owners frequented.

The Thirsty Duck is one of the smaller pubs around, but it does have an effective layout with lots of booths and high-top tables (there are regular seats, but those are few and far between). Groups of five or more are going to have difficulty getting a spot together, however, the back room can be reserved, although it only seats about a dozen or so. The pub is decorated with paintings of Confederation and prints of long-dead monarchs on its exposed brick wall and is very dark. However, the atmosphere is great, so it comes recommended.

Note: They only accept cash or debit.

Number of visits by yours truly: twice so far and more to come, most recently on a Saturday afternoon in November 2016
TTC information: a 10-minute ride eastbound from Queen Station on the Queen streetcar or take the bus from Pape Station (the 72), which will drop you after a 18-minute ride at Carlaw and Queen
Booze selection: about 17 beers, along with Brickworks cider and a number of wines and whiskeys. Yes, they have Pimm’s 
Food selection: a limited selection with some East Coast treats, such as loosely rolled donairs (according to my better half, they are supposed to be tight). They do serve duck!
Service staff: very nice
Prices: decent
Toilets: a bit terrifying — the ladies’ toilet was whiffy; there were no locks on the doors, which meant that one of my dining companions had a visitor while she was down there; the ceilings were low; and the toilets were very cramped (yes, I know they can’t really help the latter two)
Patio: nope
Wheelchair accessible: nope as toilets downstairs
Televisions: four rather small ones
Live music: very likely not, they do have trivia on Tuesdays in the back room, known as the Green Room
Piped-in music: The Proclaimers, Black Crowes, Cat Stevens, The Cranberries, Echo and the Bunnymen

Rating: four 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 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) 

The Fox and Fiddle (St. Clair)

Fox and Fiddle Pub St Clair

The Fox and Fiddle (St. Clair) (website)
1085 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto ON M6E 1A8 (on the south side, between Northcliffe Boulevard and Lauder Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Dufferin Avenue and St. Clair Avenue West) 416-657-3691
Google Maps 

Why are Fox and Fiddle pubs so boring? 

Regular readers of this blog will know that I am not much of a fan of the Fox and Fiddle pub chain. The chain lacks charisma so much so that I even find it difficult to write a review about the various Fox and Fiddle pubs because there’s not a lot to say. The pubs are rather drab looking — with copious amounts of beer advertising, but clean enough — which is funny given the brand’s focus on the looks of their wait staff on their website and their menus.

Anyway, on with the review, this Fox and Fiddle pub has take-out and a regular clientele, booths of various sizes, a variety of seating, and a pool table. There are at least ten Fox and Fiddles in Toronto, and another dozen beyond, so make sure you know where you gathering.

Number of visits by yours truly: four or five visits to this location, most recently on a weekday evening in March 2015. (In case you are wondering why I’ve go back given that I’d rather go anywhere else, it’s because my beloved’s 93-year grandmother lives nearby and we met at the pub for dinner before heading over for cookies, Wheel of Fortune, and Jeopardy!)
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: more than 30 beers with Strongbow and Somersby ciders (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard Fox and Fiddle menu
Service staff: not good (Update: 2015.04.28, was there last night and my glass was empty for long enough for me to change my mind from a beer to a ginger ale.)
Prices: reasonable
Toilets: not bad, but not enough for the size of the pub
Patio: south
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Televisions: at least nine, but not all were turned on  
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Lorde, The Raconteurs

Rating: three pints (out of five) 

The Fox and Fiddle (Danforth)

Fox and Fiddle Danforth

The Fox and Fiddle (Danforth) (website)
535 Danforth Avenue, Toronto Ontario M4K 1P7 (on the south side of Danforth, between Carlaw Avenue and Fenwick Avenue, the nearest intersection is Pape Avenue and Danforth Avenue) 416-462-9830
Google Maps 

Decent sports pub on the Danforth.

I’m not a fan of the Fox and Fiddle pub chain — too many televisions, a little dark even for my gothic sensibilities, and the focus on looks (the first image on their website is of a woman holding two plates, but the food is out of focus and partly cut off, her nose and above is also cut off, the camera is focussed on “The Fox and Fiddle” name on her chest). However, they could be worse and when Toronto had that huge winter storm in 2013 with the power outages, the Fox and Fiddle on the Danforth allowed its customers to charge their cell phones there as they had power.

The Fox and Fiddle on the Danforth features two pool tables, a party room in the basement, and games at the back. The seating is varied with high-back chairs, different size booths, a bench for 14, etc. Ho-hum.

Number of visits by yours truly: three or four visits, most recently on a weekday afternoon in December 2014
TTC information: two-minute walk west of Pape Station
Booze selection: 40 beers with Somersby and Strongbow ciders (yes, they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard pub fare, the kitchen is open until 2 am
Service staff: good (We were chatting with our server and another patron who had just walked in immediately asked her for a beer while we were talking, she politely dealt with him and I watched him drink his pint in two minutes.)
Prices: reasonable
Toilets: the gender signs are on the door handle plates, which is not where you would expect them to be
Patio: north on the Danforth
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Televisions: lots and lots including several inside booths
Live music: likely not
Piped-in music: modern

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