Beerbistro

Beerbistro (website, Twitter)
18 King Street East, Toronto ON M5C 1C4 (on the north side of King Street East, just east of Yonge Street) 416-815-7562
Google Maps

Pull your socks up, Beerbistro, there are dozens of less snobby pubs within walking distance.

I’ve been to the Beerbistro at least four times since I started this blog. I took notes most visits, but I just kept going to better pubs in the meantime and I would slipped my review of Beerbistro to the bottom of my pub review notes. I recently decided that it was now or never as I hoped that my earlier meh experiences were just coincidences. The Beerbistro is loud, despite being carpeted, probably due to its high ceiling, and the pub is divided into two areas with a large bar and related seating in one part and a more formal restaurant feel in the other. The crowd is business people, understandably.

On my most recent visit to the Beerbistro, I told the greeter that I was meeting two people for dinner. After a while, I decided to check my telephone as my companions hadn’t arrived and discovered they had been turned away as they had been told that they would not be seated for at least an hour! I could see several empty tables near me and I couldn’t see reserved signs on them. I bolted down my second drink and ran across the street to the Office Pub, which was quieter and less pretentious and found my companions there.

Number of visits by yours truly: four and no more, most recently on a weekday evening in April 2017
TTC information: just a minute’s walk east from King Station
Booze selection: just shy of 100 beers on menu, including one cider, which is a rotating tap. They have a tasting flight (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: swanky with beer pairing suggestions
Service staff: on my second last visit about a year ago, we were rushed out as it was crowded and we were not encouraged to spend the evening drinking, in fact an empty glass sat on our table for a lot longer than usual and was ignored by our waitress, then see above for missed dinner with friends
Prices: expensive
Toilets: needed cleaning 
Patio: on the west side, but very dark as between tall buildings
Wheelchair accessible: not really, hallway to toilets crowded and too many high-top tables for those who might not be able to sit at them
Televisions: three over the bar showing sports
Live music: doubt it
Piped-in music: Lenny Kravitz

Rating: three pints (out of five)

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TorontoPubs’ St. Lawrence Market Pub Crawl

https://goo.gl/maps/3ydcD5ceQXR2

Updated: 2017.01.17

Notes on this pub crawl: the walk (0.6 km) takes about eight minutes in total. Keep in mind that the Jason George pub is the weakest link in this crawl, so you might just want to skip it and C’est What is just too hip for its own good. TTC directions back to the subway are available on each pub’s individual review.

Notes on pub crawls in general: consider at least 45 minutes per pub visit and let your server know that you having just one drink and then moving on into the fizzy night so she/he knows that you’ll need your bill quickly. Pay by cash so you aren’t waiting for the credit card/debit machine and tip generously as you may be back one day for longer than just one drink. Check the pub’s website/Twitter (links in TorontoPubs review of establishment) in case they have an event that night. Also keep in mind the day and time, Saturday nights with the FIFA World Cup’s final on is not the best night for said pub crawl, but it is one of the best times to be in a pub.

Printable PDF of this TorontoPubs’ St. Lawrence Market Pub Crawl with map.

Scotland Yard (TorontoPubs review)
56 The Esplanade

Bier Markt (Esplanade) (TorontoPubs review)
58 The Esplanade

C’est What (TorontoPubs review)
67 Front Street East

The Flatiron and Firkin (TorontoPubs review)
49 Wellington Street East

The Jersey Giant (TorontoPubs review)
71 Front Street East

The Jason George (TorontoPubs review)
104 Front Street East

Unfortunately, this pub crawl is not wheelchair accessible.

TorontoPubs’ TTC Loop Pub Crawl

TTC

Notes on this pub crawl: in honour of the fabled London Circle Line pub crawl, here’s a Toronto variation, TorontoPubs presents the TTC Loop Pub Crawl. I have selected the best pub in the TTC station area for a pub crawl, not necessary the one I would go to for the entire afternoon or evening. But what do I know? This is 14 stops, so a half-pint or sharing a pitcher with friends might be wiser than a full pint. Also keep in mind that the Museum Tavern is a bit snooty, but you’re stuck with what’s local. Finally, some pubs are closer to one another than actually walking back to the TTC station taking it one stop and then walking to the next pub, but that’s the charm of a TTC pub crawl — a bit of a breather. If you want to walk the route instead of taking the TTC, according to GoogleMaps, from the door of a pub to all 13 other pubs and then back to the starting pub takes just over two hours.

If you don’t agree with the pubs selected, click on the related TTC station below to get all pubs that are marked with that tag on this blog and choose your own!

Notes on pub crawls in general: consider at least 45 minutes per pub visit and let your server know that you having just one drink and then moving on into the fizzy night so she/he knows that you’ll need your bill quickly. Pay by cash so you aren’t waiting for the credit card/debit machine and tip generously as you may be back one day for longer than just one drink. Check the pub’s website/Twitter (links in TorontoPubs review of establishment) in case they have an event that night. Also keep in mind the day and time, Saturday nights with the FIFA World Cup’s final on is not the best night for said pub crawl, but it is one of the best times to be in a pub.

Updated: 2017.01.18 

Printable PDF of this TorontoPubs TTC Loop Pub Crawl with map.

Bloor-Yonge — The Artful Dodger (TorontoPubs review)
12 Isabella Street — Three blocks south of Bloor-Yonge Station, turn left on Isabella and the pub is on the north side

Wellesley — Mullins Irish Pub (TorontoPubs review)
1033 Bay Street — Two and a half blocks north of Wellesley, on the west side of Bay

College Pogue Mahone (TorontoPubs review)
777 Bay Street — The pub is actually on College between Yonge and Bay, on the south side

Dundas — The Imperial Pub (TorontoPubs review)
54 Dundas Street East — Two-minute walk east from Dundas Station, at the corner of Victoria

QueenThe Duke of Richmond (TorontoPubs review)
20 Queen Street West — On the east side, just west of Yonge Street, with the main entrance one block over on James Street

King — The Flatiron and Firkin (TorontoPubs review)
49 Wellington Street East — One block south and one block east of King Station, at the intersection of Wellington, Church, and Front 

Union — Scotland Yard (TorontoPubs review)
56 The Esplanade — Three short blocks east from Union Station and one block south

St. Andrew — The Town Crier (TorontoPubs review)
115 John Street — Three blocks west of St. Andrew Station, three and half blocks north of King East

Osgoode — The Friar (TorontoPubs review)
160 John Street — Three blocks west of Osgoode Station and just south of Queen East

St. Patrick — Village Idiot Pub (TorontoPubs review)
126 McCaul Street — Three blocks west of University at the corner of McCaul and Dundas West

Queen’s Park — The Prenup Pub (TorontoPubs review)
191 College Street — Four blocks west of Queen’s Park Station at the corner of Henry

Museum — Museum Tavern (TorontoPubs review)
208 Bloor Street West — One block north of Museum Station and half a block west of Avenue

St. George — The Duke of York Pub (TorontoPubs review)
39 Prince Arthur Avenue — One block north of St. George Station’s east exit and one building along Prince Arthur

Bay — Hemingway’s (TorontoPubs review)
142 Cumberland Street — Across the street from Bay Station’s east exit

Unfortunately, this pub crawl is not wheelchair accessible.

P.J. O’Brien

PJ OBriens

P.J. O’Brien (website)
39 Colborne Street, Toronto ON M5E 1E3 (on the south side of Colborne Street, between Church Street and Leader Lane, the nearest major intersection is Yonge Street and King Street) 416-815-7562
Google Maps

Nice spot for a pint or two.

A sister pub to the Irish Embassy, which is only a minute or so away, but mercifully quieter, P.J. O’Brien has a cozy atmosphere and tablecloths. In some ways, P.J. O’Brien has a number of restaurant-type features with the aforementioned tablecloths and accompanying cloth napkins and bread for the table, but the number of beers and limited menu options push the establishment firmly into the pub column for the purposes of this blog. P.J. O’Brien, which is very close to the King Edward Hotel and the St. Lawrence Market, has several rooms, including two snugs and an upstairs area with a fireplace, the latter appears to be only accessible from outside on the street, so the place is a bit of a rabbit warren.

The major online complaint of other pub-goers is the poor service at P.J. O’Brien, a touch ironic given the slant of the pub’s website, which seems to be all about service and bending over backwards. I have to agree with the online crowd, it’s a nice pub, but the service can be poor. A few warnings: P.J. O’Brien doesn’t accept debit cards as our pubbing companions found out the hard way — which is also contrary to what they have on their website — and they aren’t open on Sundays, because… actually, there is no good reason for a pub to be closed on a Sunday. None. What. So. Ever.

Number of visits by yours truly: two so far, most recently on a Saturday evening in May 2014
TTC information: just a minute’s walk east from King Station’s south (Melinda Street) exit
Booze selection: more than 20 beers, including a number of whiskeys,  Magners and Strongbow cider (one night they had Pimm’s, the next they didn’t)
Food selection: limited, but the fancier end of pub grub, including a calamari salad that was a hit with our merry little band of pub-goers
Service staff: our food delivery was sometimes slow and we had to ask for a drink twice, we also had to wait quite some time for dessert, which was pre-made and probably pre-cut, and then our bills featured several items from our pubbing companions’ bill and they had several of ours. Fortunately, the amounts were very close, so we didn’t bother to ask for new bills. Unrelated, several of our servers were Irish
Prices: expensive, but the portions are big
Toilets: clean
Patio: no patio
Wheelchair accessible: nope, as toilets are accessible by stairs
Televisions: one in the front room and a large screen in the upper lounge
Live music: Fridays and Saturdays, with comedy on Mondays
Piped-in music: Tragically Hip, Joy Division, Daft Punk

Rating: four pints (out of five)

The Jason George

The Jason George (website)
104 Front Street East, Toronto ON M5A 1E1 (on the north side, between Jarvis Street and George Street) 416-363-7100
Google Maps

A mediocre pub in the heart of the St. Lawrence Market area.

I wanted to like the Jason George as I knew it was a friend’s favourite pub, I really did, but, alas, I was disappointed. It does have a number of decent features, such as crisps/chips behind the bar and it’s wheelchair accessible. However, the menu was hard to read as it was all caps and in a font very similar to Comic Sans, which did not inspire confidence. There’s a “kid’s corner,” so what does one do when there are two or more children in the pub, do they take turns as only one child is allowed in there at a time? This error was even etched into glass. Does no one check these things? (I believe pubs should be child-free areas myself, but I know I am ahead of my time.)

Alas, what sealed the deal for me at the Jason George was finding a hair in my meal. The waitress was suitably appalled, but when I declined to have another meal made for me — I’d understandably lost my appetite — she stopped coming by the table to check on my companion and we left soon after.

This pub is owned by the same people who own the Jersey Giant.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first and probably my last on a weekday night in August 2012
TTC information: King Station, head east along King to Jarvis, down to Front
Booze selection: just 12 beers and Magners cider on tap (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: lots of sandwiches, including one with cat-fish, see above
Service staff: friendly at first, but not always according to other internet reviews
Prices: not bad, lots of onion rings for the price of $4.75 and cheap for booze
Toilets: could have been cleaner and sticky floors
Patio: south and large
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Televisions: at least four, the two I could see were both showing the Olympics, but were on different channels 
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: nondescript

Rating: three pints (out of five)

Irish Embassy


Irish Embassy Pub (website, Twitter)

49 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M5E 1J1 (on the north-east corner of Wellington Street East and Yonge Street) 416-866-8282
Google Maps 

This could well be the noisiest pub in Toronto.

Over the years I have been to the Irish Embassy Pub a number of times and on every visit, save the last, which was on a Sunday evening, I was overwhelmed by the noise and the only reason I went back this time was because I haven’t reviewed it for this blog. This pub could well be the noisiest in Toronto.

The Irish Embassy Pub clearly shows its former life as a nineteenth-century bank as the echoes of its past still resonate in the thick Greek columns, classical arches, and tall ceilings, which are likely to blame for making the place so noisy. (The glass-topped bank tellers partitions are probably not original.) As a result, the establishment doesn’t have much of a pub feel about it and no coziness, perhaps reflecting the business crowd it attracts. The Dublin Lounge — which can be reserved for large groups — was closed during our most recent visit and I have never had the chance to venture in there. The pub itself is often very crowded during the week and I recall walking by a long line up outside the pub on a recent St. Patrick’s Day that fell on a weekday. All said, it would appear that my dearth of warm fuzzies for the Irish Embassy Pub is in the minority.

Number of visits by yours truly: fourth or fifth visit, most recently on a Sunday evening in February 2011
TTC information: two intersections south of King
Booze selection: 20 or so beers, including Strongbow cider (yes, they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: fancy Irish. I had the vegetarian tikka masala, which is not on the online menu, leading me to think that the online ones are out of date
Service staff: good, but others have commented on the slowness. I guess it depends on the day, time, etc.
Prices: very expensive, but you are downtown
Toilets: nice and downstairs
Patio: nope
Wheelchair accessible: no, steps at front and the toilet is downstairs
Televisions: eight and it’s not a large pub
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Mr. Bowie, U2

Rating: four pints (out of five) 

Scotland Yard

Scotland Yard (website, Twitter)
56 The Esplanade, Toronto ON M5E 1A6 (on the north side, between Church Street and Scott Street) 416-364-6572
Google Maps 

Great for a pint after returning to Toronto VIA (get it?) GO Transit. 

I expect like many people, I first went to Scotland Yard Pub when I took a wrong turn after coming out of the toilets at the Old Spaghetti Factory many years ago. There I stood a little bewildered, a little bemused, as I was suddenly in a different place from where I expected to be. Fortunately, all was not lost and your heroine managed to get back to her date and meal, but not before noting that there a pub nearby and all was right with the world!

Like the Old Spaghetti Factory, there’s lots of stained glass, 1920s posters, paintings, and old photographs in the Scotland Yard pub. The pub also has two dart boards and a library nook that is raised by several steps, which might not be as private as first thought as it is the access to the storage area and so we saw several barrels of beer being carted by us during the course of our luncheon. For those curious, Scotland Yard is probably the closest pub to the downtown GO bus station, so if you’ve just missed your bus, you could go there for a quick pint.

Number of visits by yours truly: third or fourth visit, most recently on a weekday afternoon in October 2011
TTC information: equidistant from Union and King, one block south of Front after passing Yonge Street
Booze selection: 13 beers, including Blackthorn and Peelers ciders (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: limited, but if you are craving a meal, then a pint, you have the Old Spaghetti Factory right next door
Service staff: very friendly
Prices: decent
Toilets: clean and lots and lots of stalls as it shares the facilities with the Old Spaghetti Factory
Patio: not at the moment due to construction on the Esplanade
Wheelchair accessible: yes, as you can see from the photograph there is a load of construction at the moment, so the pub is accessible, but the sidewalk probably isn’t
Televisions: five and three showing Buzztime Trivia
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: the Bata Band and company

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