Henry VIII Ale House (Kingsway)

Henry VIII Pub Toronto

Henry VIII Ale House — Kingsway (website, Twitter)
3078 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M8X 1C8 (on the north side, just west of Brentwood Road North, the nearest major intersection is Bloor Street West and Royal York Road) 416-237-1444
Google Maps

Traditional pub on Bloor West.

One of the smallest pubs in Toronto, the Henry VIII Ale House — Kingsway is one of two pubs with that same name within a 30-minute walk (just two subways stops or five-minute drive away) on the same road. Both pubs are owned by the same people. The pubs’ website is a little confusing as to the differences between the two and sometimes fails to mention that there are actually two pubs with the same name. Example: “Welcome to Henry VIII Ale House, Toronto West’s best kept secret. Our exciting, comfortable and charming space is a place to escape to at any time of the day to relax.” Shouldn’t this be pluralized? Named after one England’s nastiest monarchs (responsible for two divorces/annulments and two wives executed, the execution of a 67-year-old woman, the destruction of great chief ministers, the Dissolution of the Monasteries, etc.), perhaps the owners of the Henry VIII Ale House — Kingsway should have done a little research beforehand and named the pub after Charles II, often known as the Merry Monarch, or Richard III, just because, instead of going with name recognition.

The Henry VIII Ale House — Kingsway’s deep red walls were covered in images of Henry VIII, including a poster from The Tudors mini-series. On the day of my latest visit, I was there for lunch with a friend and the pub was full at one point and very noisy. The waitress ignored us for several minutes, long enough for me to change my mind from ordering a second pint to just asking for the bill. I would recommend the Monk’s Kettle across the street instead.

Number of visits by yours truly: my third or fourth visit, most recently on a weekday afternoon in April 2015
TTC information: a four-minute walk west of Royal York Station
Booze selection: 17 beers including Cornish Orchards cider (they have “seasonal” Pimm’s). They also have lots of scotches and whiskeys
Food selection: traditional pub grub including one of my favourites, steak pie and Stilton
Service staff: poor service
Prices: expensive
Toilets: cleanish
Patio: no
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: one
Live music: on Tuesdays
Piped-in music: jazz

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

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Monk’s Kettle

Monks Kettle Toronto

The Monk’s Kettle (website)
3073 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M8X 2B5 (on the south side, just west of Brentwood Road South, the nearest major intersection is Bloor Street West and Royal York Road) 416-348-4848
Google Maps

Craft beer mecca for those thirsty in Bloor West Village.

I discovered the Monk’s Kettle last month while visiting the Henry VIII Ale House — Kingsway, said establishment is across the street and while there noticed its competition. Anyway, as my regular drinking companion and I were in the west end recently, we thought the Monk’s Kettle would be a nice place to visit.

The Monk’s Kettle is rather small, full of dark wood, and has sparsely covered walls, but then again I am a fan of the Sir John Soane decorating method. There are lovely lighting fixtures in the front and there are a variety of seating options available with benches, high chairs, and regular seating. The pub, from what I can gather, has been around for about three years and still looks new. By the time we left, which was late afternoon, the pub was quite full.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last, on a Saturday afternoon in November 2014
TTC information: a four-minute walk west of Royal York Station
Booze selection: 17 craft beers on tap and a number of imported beers in bottles, as well as Thornberry cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: a bit limited, but you are there for the beer
Service staff: attentive and friendly, although a number of people have complained about the service in on-line reviews. When we indicated that we wanted a second drink, our waiter suggested a local beer (Black Oak Epiphany No. 1) which we both went for after trying the sample, we were warned about the alcohol content, which was high, but as we weren’t driving, it didn’t matter
Prices: beer is cheap, food not so much, but I prefer it that way
Toilets: lock in one stall doesn’t work (a simple five-minute fix would solve that) but tidy enough
Patio: windows fold out
Wheelchair accessible: no as toilet downstairs and doorway has a small step and is too tight to manoeuvre
Televisions: one over the bar
Live music: not likely as there’s no room
Piped-in music: the Beta Band, Arcade Fire, Pixies, Daft Punk, Velvet Underground, Echo and the Bunnymen

Rating: four pints (out of five)