The Swan (A Firkin Pub)

The Swan Toronto

The Swan (A Firkin Pub)
 (website, Twitter)
2205 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M6S 1N5 (on the south side of Bloor Street West, between Runnymede Road and Kennedy Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Bloor Street West and the Kingsway) 416-767-9222

Google Maps

It’s like a “Firkin Chuck E. Cheese” due to all the children.

I’ve been to the Swan (and Firkin) a number of times over the last couple of years and have taken several different sets of notes on the pub, but I’ve lacked the enthusiasm to type them up and post it. However, it’s a new year and I should clear the backlog of pub reviews weighing down my corkboard. The Swan is very much like Hemingway’s in Yorkville — without the rooftop patio, it’s just like every other (Firkin) pub, except with children everywhere!

Like more and more Firkin pubs, it’s been refurbished with the Cool Britannia theme. (Did Monty Python really have this in mind when it created the Ministry of Silly Walks?) The one time we tried to sit upstairs at the Swan (and Firkin), we were told it was full, which it was. I asked if I could have a quick look and I was shadowed the entire time. One time I was there, a child fell off one of the tall chairs and understandably screamed its head off. The pub does offer a variety of seating, but perhaps it was the only seating available for the family? Another time I was with two ladies and a single dad took over the nearby sofa area with his child and ignored the child while he played on his mobile device and drank. I wondered if he thought we were watching the child for him. We weren’t, we were judging him and feeling sorry for the kid.

If you have a choice, go to the Yellow Griffin across the street.

Number of visits by yours truly: three or four, most recently in late August 2015
TTC information: just steps south from Runnymede Station
Booze selection: typical (limited) Firkin selection of about 27 beers with Strongbow and Brickworks ciders. Yes, they have Pimm’s
Food selection: typical Firkin selection. According to one dining companion, don’t bother with the chicken as it’s more bone than chicken
Service staff: okay, but I seem to recall waiting for service
Prices: typical Firkin prices
Toilets: not bad, but not clear if vacant or not. Poorly designed
Patio: street-level facing north and rooftop, which is very popular
Wheelchair accessible: nope as the toilets aren’t accessible
Televisions: at least seven that I could see 
Live music: “sometimes”
Piped-in music: early Stevie Wonder, Rolling Stones, Daft Punk, Lenny Kravitz

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


The Yellow Griffin

The Yellow Griffin (website, Twitter)
2202 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M6S 1N4 (on the north side, between Runnymede Road and Kennedy Avenue) 416-763-3365
Google Maps

A unique – and tasty – idea in the eternal search for perfect pub grub.

I heard of the Yellow Griffin long before I ever visited it. Foodie friends of ours raved and raved about the menu and another friend who is into politics had his big launch there. We happened to be in the neighbourhood in August 2010 and thought to check it out. I was impressed, but the service is a little spotty. However, one goes to the Yellow Griffin for the burgers. You have eight bases (beef, chicken, etc.), 35 topping combinations (they say “over 35,” but it’s 35 on the nose), and nine sides which works out to 2,250 possibilities as the salmon burgers are limited to five topping combinations. Not too shabby! Although I will eat just about anything (liver, kidney, blue cheese, Marmite, anchovies, etc.), I have only had the Big Stilton Burger on beef as it’s what I like. They do have other menu items, but why bother?

The atmosphere is pleasant; the downstairs has booths with frosted glass or open tables and there are lots of mirrors and wood paneling. On Thursdays they have poker upstairs in their private party room, which you can book for parties. I popped my head up there for one such poker night and it was crowded! I went to one upstairs party in October 2010 and it was quite nice, except that the upstairs layout tends to fragment people, not drawn them together. There is a toilet, bar, and pool table upstairs.

Number of visits by yours truly: three so far, most recently on a weekday afternoon in February 2011
TTC information: Runnymede Station
Booze selection: more than 60 beers, including cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: this is why one goes; if you love burgers, you will love the Yellow Griffin. Do be prepared to wait for your food
Service staff: friendly, but not the most attentive even when the food is on your table
Prices: expensive, but you are going for the food and booze selection
Toilets: a tad whiffy, but clean. The inner light for the ladies’ stalls is hidden, so do look for it (near the hand towel dispenser) if you don’t want to be in the dark
Patio: small and south-facing
Wheelchair accessible: no, as toilets are in basement
Televisions: none downstairs, upstairs is a different matter
Live music: Tuesdays
Piped-in music: the first time I was there they were playing Jean-Baptiste Lully, the most recent time I was there the piped music was modern and a bit loud

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