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) 

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Mullins Irish Pub (Bay)

Mullins Bay Toronto

Mullins Irish Pub (Bay) (website)
1033 Bay Street, Toronto ON M5S 3A5 (on the south-east corner of Bay Street and Irwin Avenue, the nearest major intersection is Bay Street and Wellesley Street West) 416-963-3000
Google Maps

A friendly spot for a pint.

Mullins on Bay is a little run-down (it looks like a 1980s basement with wood everywhere and it’s about the same size as one), but this doesn’t detract from the pub’s popularity with its regulars. In fact, the four-seater snug is named after one such regular who apparently spent many, many happy hours there. Mullins on Bay likely survives due to its location near UofT’s Victoria and St. Michael’s Colleges and being north on Bay Street close for its high-rolling workers. Given its clientele of students and professionals, and its rather homely appearance, Mullins on Bay is not the place for a first date (unless you don’t really think you’ll be getting a second one), but it is the type of place that you might meet an old friend or two for a pint after a hard day on the stock market or to celebrate getting a A+ on your history paper on why Henry Tudor had the Princes in the Tower, err… removed.

Mullins is one of a chain of pubs, with one on College Street and another on Kingston Road, so be sure to note which location you and your companions are meeting at.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first on a Saturday afternoon in August 2014
TTC information: a five-minute walk northwest from Wellesley Station or a six-minute walk south from Bay. You could try catching the Bay bus from Bay station, but given the traffic, you should probably walk
Booze selection: 10 on tap and 12 in bottles, as well as Magners cider, both original and pear (yes, they have Pimm’s)
Food selection: custom pizzas, they don’t have a deep fryer (the shame!) so everything is baked and basic. Apparently they also do catering, but it seems that everyone does these days
Service staff: friendly
Prices: not bad
Toilets: crowded with empties
Patio: to the north
Wheelchair accessible: too narrow
Televisions: three
Live music: Wednesdays
Piped-in music: Bryan Adams, Led Zeppelin, U2

Rating: three and half pints (out of five)

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.

O’Grady’s (Church)

O’Grady’s (Twitter)
518 Church Street, Toronto ON M4Y 2C7 (on the west side, between Maitland Street and Alexander Street, the nearest major intersection is Church Street and Carlton Street) 416-323-2822
Google Maps 

Decent pub in the heart of Toronto’s Gay Village.

O’Grady’s on Church is Firkin-like in many ways, which is ironic, given that there is the Churchmouse (and Firkin) pub directly across the street. You’d think that O’Grady’s would try to offer a little choice from the Firkin franchise, especially in its booze offerings, but what do I know?

O’Grady’s has two fireplaces, an upstairs room that can be reserved for parties, and a decent patio that is probably packed in the summer. (I visited in mid-April, so the patio was not top of mind for us.) The downstairs is bright and airy and tables can be easily moved for groups. A group of seven walked in off the street while we were there and they had no trouble getting seating for their meals. I got the impression that O’Grady’s has a lot of regulars.

Note, there is an O’Grady’s on College Street, near UofT, which likely has a totally different atmosphere!

Number of visits by yours truly: probably my first, but not my last, on a weekday evening in April 2012
TTC information: a five-minute walk from Wellesley Station, just walk east to Church Street, and two blocks south to Maitland Street
Booze selection: six beers (yes, that is not a typo) and Strongbow cider. Apparently, they serve a lot of cocktails (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: standard pub grub, but interesting burgers. We both had the fish and chips. The kitchen is open late
Service staff: very friendly. I commented on the waiter’s pen when signing the bill and he kindly gave it to me!
Prices: mid-range
Toilets: up the stairs and dangerous step into the ladies
Patio: north, on Maitland, and an upper deck patio. The large patio is one of the top features on others’ online reviews
Wheelchair accessible: no, stairs into the pub and the toilets are upstairs
Televisions: five
Live music: karaoke on Sundays and Tuesdays
Piped-in music: Michael Jackson, Arcade Fire

Rating: four pints (out of five)