The Friar (A Firkin Pub)

Friar and Firkin Toronto

The Friar (A Firkin Pub)
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)


TorontoPubs’ TTC Loop Pub Crawl


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.

The Office Pub

The Office Pub (website, Twitter)
117 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) 416-977-1900
Google Maps 

Nightclub, karaoke bar, upscale bistro dining restaurant, or pub? Only you can decide. 

When I walked into the Office Pub, I thought I was in a nightclub. If your mission statement is in the name of your establishment, then why confuse the matter by appearing to be something else? Anyway, the nice chandeliers and fancy tables hidden in darkness belong more in a nightclub than in a pub, which is odd given the after-work crowd it draws upon.

The menu for the Office Pub was covered in errors — would you like an Alexandar Keiths or a chocoalate flourless cake? And the website has the wrong postal code. However, the food was good with decent portions, and the waitress was attentive and didn’t complain when we asked at the end of the evening for separate tabs. There is a large upstairs area that is more pub-like than downstairs, and a third-floor private party room. I think they need to pull up their socks given the competition next door — the Town Crier).

Number of visits by yours truly: my first 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: 28 beers including Strongbow cider in bottles and Somersby cider on tap (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: lots of interesting poutines and pubby foods (the menus are available online)
Service staff: very good
Prices: good for food, expensive for beer (the menu did not list prices for the beer and had they done so, I would have stopped sooner than I did)
Toilets: not bad, but given the size of place, one ladies is not enough
Patio: west-facing Hooters and apparently in the back, but I didn’t see that one
Wheelchair accessible: nope
Televisions: three in our section and all showing sports
Live music: sometimes on Mondays, karaoke three nights a week and stand-up comedy sometimes
Piped-in music: Rolling Stones, Billy Joel, George Michael

Rating: four 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)