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) 

The Wickson Social

wickson-social-toronto
The Wickson Social (website, Twitter)
5 St. Joseph Street, Toronto ON M4Y 0B6 (on the south side, between Yonge Street and St Nicholas Street, the nearest major intersection is Yonge Street and Wellesley Street) 647-748-1501
Google Maps

Another jewel in the crown of Toronto’s pubs. 

Opened in late 2015, the Wickson Social is part of the expanding pub empire that began with the Queen and Beaver and grew with the Oxley. The three pubs have much in common, such as a focus on the menu and an upscale approach to the pub experience, however, the Wickson Social is more modern and more international with its menu than its sister pubs. The Wickson Social has mirrors on the ceiling (which can be a bit of a shock if you aren’t use to seeing yourself — or your dining companion — from that angle), a huge picture printed on fabric of wild animals in clothing, comfy seats that will probably pay for themselves with the change found between the deep seat cushions at the end of a long night, and tall ceilings that add an air of sophistication to the rooms.

The Wickson Social was named after Frank Wickson, the Toronto-based architect who designed the century-old building where the Wickson Social is located, as well as the Timothy Eaton Memorial Church on St Clair Avenue West and the IOOF Hall at the north-west corner of Yonge Street and College Street. The pub also offers room service to the tenants in the building (so I might be moving soon).

Number of visits by yours truly: two so far, most recently on a weekend evening in September 2016
TTC information: just a three-minute walk (a block north) of Wellesley Station
Booze selection: approximately 25 beers with Spirit Tree, Empire Hard, and West Avenue ciders (they have Pimm’s). They also have a variety of cocktails available
Food selection: very fancy end of pub grub, fortunately they have the delicious ice cream that both the Queen and Beaver and the Oxley have. The second time we were there we were given a free mini appetizer of watermelon cubes with sea salt and mint (I think), it was yummy!
Service staff: good
Prices: very expensive, with modest proportions, but worth it for the most part
Toilets: clean and very red
Patio: yes, on the north side
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Televisions: one in the party room, which called the Nest 
Live music: very unlikely not
Piped-in music: Michael Jackson, Daft Punk

Rating: five pints (out of five) 

Morgans on the Danforth

Morgans on the Danforth Toronto

Morgans on the Danforth (website, Twitter)
1282 Danforth Avenue, Toronto ON M4J 1M6 (on the north side, between Greenwood Avenue and Linsmore Crescent, the nearest intersection is Greenwood Avenue and Danforth Avenue) 416-461-3020
Google Maps 

Another diamond in the rough. 

I live in East York and my neighbourhood is bereft of pubs. One can swing a multitude of dead cats without hitting anything coming close to a pub (as a cat lover I use that only as a phrase, and certainly not as a suggestion). As a result, this review might be coloured by my enthusiasm for finding a watering hole of a calibre above that of “dive” or “rib house”. Morgans on the Danforth was recommended by someone who knows of my weakness from where the fount of this blog was launched. Fortunately we erred towards hope, instead of experience, and decided to check the pub out one evening. We liked it so much that we went back for our wedding anniversary meal a few weeks later.

On our most recent visit, Morgans on the Danforth was so popular that we were lucky to get a seat and it was a Monday evening, not the most popular of evenings for a pub visit. The pub features exposed brick and plush leather seats. One might be lucky enough to score one of the booths, which according to its website, have their own air-conditioning outlets, but slow-turning fans aerated the rest of the pub. There is a raised area at the back, which affords some privacy, so you might be lucky enough to reserve that for your group. The only drawback to the pub is the square plates; my utensils (yes, I do use them) kept falling into my food as they slipped along the edge.

Number of visits by yours truly: my second, most recently on a weekday evening in July 2013
TTC information: Greenwood Station, mere metres on the Danforth from the station
Booze selection: 12 beers, including Waupoos cider (they have Pimm’s). They also have a wine list
Food selection: the fancier and eclectic end of pub grub, such as cheese platters and charcuterie. Be warned that brunch at Morgans is popular with the older set. Apparently, Morgans also does catering. The menu is also online
Service staff: very friendly
Prices: expensive
Toilets: not bad
Patio: tiny one to the south of building on the Danforth, but the front window features an up-and-over door
Wheelchair accessible: toilets are certainly not accessible
Televisions: one over the bar
Live music: sometimes
Piped-in music: nondescript

Rating: five 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) 

Bellwoods Brewery

Bellwoods Brewery (website, Twitter)
124 Ossington Avenue, Toronto ON M6J 2Z5 (on the west side, between Foxley Street and Argyle Street, the nearest major intersection is Queen Street West and Ossington Avenue) 416-535-4586
Google Maps 

Microbrewery and fancy restaurant — perfect for a date or two! 

The Bellwoods Brewery was first learned of by my better half and we decided to go there one evening as he didn’t want to cook and I didn’t want to go home. I arrived first and got a decent seat inside right next to the behind-glass on-site brewery. The chairs are mismatched and the table weather-beaten, this is on purpose as the place has only been around since April 2012. The menu was a little confusing as it was posted on the wall as just “cheese plate” and “meat plate” with prices. Fortunately, our waitress knew what was on each and was good with recommending various pints for us.

By the time we left, there was a lineup of six or seven people waiting for us to leave the Bellwoods Brewery and it was only a Tuesday evening. However, as there are only 40 seats inside — and 40 on the patio — I shouldn’t be that surprised. The pub has an excellent location as the TTC stops right in front of it, so it gets free exposure every six minutes or so most weekend evenings.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, on a weekday evening in July 2012
TTC information: a seven-minute ride south from Ossington Station or a 15-minute ride west on the Dundas Streetcar from Dundas Station and then a four-minute walk south
Booze selection: 26 beers, including Spirit Tree and Sir Perry ciders. Tasters are available (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: simple menu, such as “cheese plate,” but fancy food such as duck hearts
Service staff: knowledgeable
Prices: if you are hungry you will pay a lot
Toilets: nice, one upstairs and one downstairs
Patio: east facing and large (seats about 40)
Wheelchair accessible: there is a toilet on the ground floor, but I don’t know if it’s large enough for a wheelchair, the rest of the pub was very tight for a wheelchair
Televisions: no, hallelujah
Live music: “eventually”
Piped-in music: new wavy country/Rolling Stones

Rating: five pints (out of five) 

The Oxley

The Oxley (website)
121 Yorkville Avenue, Toronto ON M5R 1C4 (on the south side, between Avenue Road and Bellair Street, just west of Old York Lane) 647-348-1300
Google Maps

A charming pub in Toronto’s trendy Yorkville. 

What a lovely pub! The only thing wrong with The Oxley is the location, I am not a fan of oh-so-trendy Yorkville, but then again, you can’t have everything. From the William Morris-inspired wallpaper and the Cruikshank-like mural of a hunting party downstairs to the chairs upstairs that look so comfortable and the framed prints that appear like they might be from Punch, the details of this recently opened establishment make a pub fan with a penchant for interior decorating weak at the knees.

The Oxley was named after Frank Oxley, a regular at the Queen and Beaver, which is the Oxley’s sister pub. (I aspire too to have a pub, a classy one like this, named after me.) The two pubs have much in common, such as the eclectic British menu with homemade ice creams and Pheasant and Goose Liver Polony with Fine Beans on offer, and the charm that comes from being founded by pub lovers. Writing this review is making me want to go back to The Oxley.

Number of visits by yours truly: two so far, most recently on a weekday evening in June 2012
TTC information: just two blocks north of Bay Station
Booze selection: 19 beers at present with Thornbury and Spirit Tree ciders and more than 30 wines (they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: fancy and yummy, the menus are online. (The Welsh rarebit was a disappointment as I was expecting  melted cheese on my toast, instead I got a kind of gravy, which was tasty, but not what I traditionally know as a Welsh rarebit)
Service staff: good
Prices: very expensive, but worth it for the most part
Toilets: downstairs and upstairs, the latter for the ladies is lovely, I think it might be as close to perfect as one can get (sadly, the upstairs men’s is just nice and unfortunately for the ladies there is only one toilet in the toilet). My grandmother would approve!
Patio: small one at the front, perfect for people watching in Yorkville, and a larger one at the back 
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: none!
Live music: I don’t think so
Piped-in music: nondescript

Rating: five pints (out of five) 

McGugan’s

McGugan’s (website, Twitter)
1058 Gerrard Street East, Toronto ON M4M 1Z8 (on the north side of Gerrard Street East, between Jones Avenue and Galt Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Pape Avenue and Gerrard Street East) 416-901-9859
Google Maps 

Salvation and redemption on Gerrard Street East. 

After the shattering disappointment of McCarthy’s (since closed) earlier that afternoon, I was in search of a better pub, a pub that would restore my faith. After wandering through Little India, which was not surprisingly devoid of pubs, we trekked westward in the on-and-off-again rain and. Then, like a lighthouse’s beacon in a storm, we saw the sign for McGugan’s. Salvation and redemption!

McGugan’s is an upscale pub, the kind that you could take someone to on a first date. It features nice wooden floors, with dining room chairs and booths for four, and is open until two seven nights a week (it says late on the website, so perhaps it changes due to demand). At first, we sat in the front of the pub on stools with the narrow drink rail, but after looking at the menu, which features some tasty Old World treats, like black pudding and haggis, we moved to the back so we could order a meal instead. We liked McGugan’s so much that we went back there for the Euro Cup’s England vs. Italy game. Note there is an upstairs, but it’s very small.

Number of visits by yours truly: twice so far and more to come, most recently on a Sunday afternoon in June 2012
TTC information: a 17-minute ride east from College Station on the Gerrard Street East streetcar or a 10-minute ride south on the Jones bus from Donlands Station
Booze selection: 11 beers with Waupoos cider on tap (yes, they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: Scottish focus, I ordered haggis and black pudding 
Service staff: good
Prices: a little expensive, but worth it
Toilets: could have been cleaner, but I’ve seen a lot worse. The toilets themselves were rather cramped and the men’s didn’t have paper towels the entire time we were there
Patio: upstairs and under construction as of early June 2012
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Televisions: two and a big screen for sporting events
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Eurythmics, Bruce Springsteen, AC/DC

Rating: five pints (out of five)