The Two-Headed Dog

The Two-Headed Dog (website)
1469 Gerrard Street East, Toronto ON M4L 2A1 (on the south side, between Rhodes Avenue and Craven Road, the nearest major intersection is Gerrard Street East and Coxwell Avenue) 416-461-1798
Google Maps

A decent pub in Toronto’s Little India. 

In keeping with the recent reviews of pubs with animal-inspired names (Thirsty Fox PubCrown and Dragon, and The Thirsty Duck), I decided to head back to the Two-Headed Dog pub (which doesn’t use the hyphen in its title, but it should!), which I first visited last summer while on a walk. We stopped in the then newly opened pub for a pint and we discovered that they serve butter chicken poutine, which was very good. We said to ourselves that we would return when we had a bit more time. As we were in the neighbourhood again recently, I suggest to my favourite drinking companion that we check out the pub again, which we did.

The Two-Headed Dog has a mixture of seating, with lots of four-seater booths, chairs, and benches. The walls are covered with old photographs and engravings, and it is very light with the two up-and-over doors, although the back does not offer much of a view with a parking lot. There are a lot of televisions there, but because of the placements, it was difficult to look at the screens.  There is a downstairs with a pool table. This pub is owned by the same people who run the two Queen’s Head pubs, which I have yet to review.

Number of visits by yours truly: twice so far and more to come, most recently on a weekday evening in March 2017
TTC information: a seven-minute bus ride south of Coxwell Station
Booze selection: about 10 beers, along with Strongbow cider. (They don’t have Pimm’s.)
Food selection: standard pub grub, with a few nods to the neighbours with Indian-infused dishes, such as yummy butter chicken poutine
Service staff: very nice, but the kitchen seemed slow with our order. (A number of online reviewers have found fault with the service. We didn’t have a problem, but both times we were there, the pub was not busy.)
Prices: not bad
Toilets: decent
Patio: no, but there are up-and-over doors at the front and back of the pub
Wheelchair accessible: nope, as toilets downstairs and there are stairs in the pub to the upper back level
Televisions: eight, showing either sports or CP24
Live music: very likely not
Piped-in music: James Brown, Bob Dylan, Bee Gees, Tragically Hip (or the radio, which was very loud)

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

Thirsty Fox Pub

Thirsty Fox Pub (website)
1028 Eglinton Avenue West, Toronto ON M6C 2C5 (on the north side, between Old Park Road and Hilltop Road, the nearest major intersection is Eglinton Avenue West and Allen Road) 647-347-7474
Google Maps

Forest Hill’s local dive.

The Thirsty Fox Pub is the only pub along Eglinton Avenue West between Bathurst Street and Dufferin Avenue and the nearest pub is a 20-minute walk east. Hence, its popularity is no shock as the pub is full of regulars (nearly all male) and does a steady business. The Thirsty Fox has been around for about seven years, but there are still traces of the Italian restaurant that was once there with the mural in the entrance and the painted baby blue walls. The Thirsty Fox also has turn of the 20th-century Art Nouveau French prints and assorted beer mirrors. The seating is a mixture of stools and chairs, with tables that can be dragged to accommodate groups.

The Thirsty Fox is not the type of place that you would take someone for a date. The tired atmosphere and dive-like quality will not reflect well on any possible noble intentions you might have. The reason that we keep going back to the pub is that it is the only nearby one to an elderly relative’s home and the food is decent. The non-private party room has a pool table, dart boards, and a big-screen television.

Number of visits by yours truly: a dozen or so, most recently on a weekday evening in February 2017
TTC information: a seven-minute walk west of Eglinton West Station, the nearest bus stop westbound is the one just before the station, so you are better off walking
Booze selection: 10 or so beers, no cider and no Pimm’s
Food selection: burgers, pizza and decent portions, there are nightly specials
Service staff: can be good, can be bad (most recently, we wait 10 minutes to place our order as our server was playing a game in the other room)
Prices: reasonable
Toilets: not the nicest
Patio: a thin one against the up-and-over door facing south
Wheelchair accessible: toilets downstairs, so no
Televisions: at least four including a big screen one and all showing sports
Live music: doubt it
Piped-in music: The Edge radio station

Rating: three (out of five)

Crown and Dragon

crown-and-dragon-toronto

Crown and Dragon (website, Twitter)
890 Yonge Street, Toronto ON M4W 3P4 (on the west side, between Church Street and Frichot Avenue, the nearest intersection is Yonge Street and Davenport Road) 416-927-7976
Google Maps

Canadian Basement Gothic.

Crown and Dragon (they seem to dislike the definite article) has been on my radar for a number of years, but I’ve always kept on walking as it doesn’t really seem that inviting and given its location, it’s more the destination than a drop-in spot. (It’s also beside the prettiest facade in all of Toronto — the former Ridpath’s, the facade is being partially retained in the building’s next reincarnation.) The patio for (the) Crown and Dragon is cramped, the televisions all show sports, there is a faint leakage from the Yorkville crowd, it’s loud, and it’s a lads’ pub. That said, I did go back to Crown and Dragon and I will go there again if I happen to be thirsty and nearby.

There seemed to be a lot of regulars and a cacophony of cackling hags the first evening we went to (the) Crown and Dragon. There is a variety of seating in the pseudo basement-styled pub, with benches and movable tables, and high-top tables, and its dartboards, but it’s crowded or cramped depending on the time of day. However, Crown and Dragon’s claim towards “the art of pub” (again, missing the definite article) is a bit pompous for a place that isn’t that inviting and lacking a wide selection of drinks, more like the art of basement bar.

Number of visits by yours truly: two visits, most recently on a weekday afternoon in December 2016
TTC information: a four-minute walk north from Bloor-Yonge Station or a six-minute walk south of Rosedale
Booze selection: 11 beers including Strongbow cider (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: this pub is known for its wings and lays claim to “Toronto’s Best Wings”. (We were not impressed with the wings, but we are in the minority.) These said wings are available in unusual flavors, such as Classic Coke, Foghorn Leghorn, Bloody Mary, and Killer Bee. They also have other pub classics on their menu
Service staff: a bit negligent
Prices: expensive
Toilets: clean, but cobwebs on the ceiling and a bit scary around the toilet near the floor. Apparently the men’s has the sports page pinned next to the urinal
Patio: rather small, east and on Yonge Street
Wheelchair accessible: no
Televisions: six, all showing sports
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Virgin Radio

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

The Thirsty Duck

thirsty-duck-pub-toronto

The Thirsty Duck (website)
972 Queen Street East, Toronto ON M4M 1K1 (at the north-east corner of Queen Street East and Carlaw Avenue) 416-463-2303
Google Maps

A welcome addition to Leslieville. 

I learned of The Thirsty Duck Pub a few months ago as I was speeding past it in a car. I noted down the intersection (I was a passenger) and made a mental note to return. I have been back to the pub twice so far and will likely return again. The pub has been around since the autumn of 2015 and is run by the same people who own Eastside Social, which is on the same block. The pub is apparently named after a Thirsty Duck Pub on the East Coast that the owners frequented.

The Thirsty Duck is one of the smaller pubs around, but it does have an effective layout with lots of booths and high-top tables (there are regular seats, but those are few and far between). Groups of five or more are going to have difficulty getting a spot together, however, the back room can be reserved, although it only seats about a dozen or so. The pub is decorated with paintings of Confederation and prints of long-dead monarchs on its exposed brick wall and is very dark. However, the atmosphere is great, so it comes recommended.

Note: They only accept cash or debit.

Number of visits by yours truly: twice so far and more to come, most recently on a Saturday afternoon in November 2016
TTC information: a 10-minute ride eastbound from Queen Station on the Queen streetcar or take the bus from Pape Station (the 72), which will drop you after a 18-minute ride at Carlaw and Queen
Booze selection: about 17 beers, along with Brickworks cider and a number of wines and whiskeys. Yes, they have Pimm’s 
Food selection: a limited selection with some East Coast treats, such as loosely rolled donairs (according to my better half, they are supposed to be tight). They do serve duck!
Service staff: very nice
Prices: decent
Toilets: a bit terrifying — the ladies’ toilet was whiffy; there were no locks on the doors, which meant that one of my dining companions had a visitor while she was down there; the ceilings were low; and the toilets were very cramped (yes, I know they can’t really help the latter two)
Patio: nope
Wheelchair accessible: nope as toilets downstairs
Televisions: four rather small ones
Live music: very likely not, they do have trivia on Tuesdays in the back room, known as the Green Room
Piped-in music: The Proclaimers, Black Crowes, Cat Stevens, The Cranberries, Echo and the Bunnymen

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

Burdock

burdock-toronto

Burdock (website, Twitter)
1184 Bloor Street West, Toronto ON M6H 1N2 (on the north side, at the corner of Pauline Avenue and Bloor Street West, the nearest major intersection is Dufferin Street and Bloor Street West) 416-546-4033
Google Maps

Hip and happenin’ in Bloordale. 

Although Burdock does not brand itself a pub, I am going to review it as it does have a microbrewery and more beers on offer than meals on the menu. (I’m not complaining.) Burdock opened in 2015 and billed itself as a restaurant, a microbrewery with beer-to-go service, and a live venue. So far, this politician’s approach of being everything to everyone seems to be working for Burdock.

Anyway, this review is of the restaurant/pub part of Burdock as the music venue was not accessible. There is limited seating in the pub, with only one table able to accommodate more than five people, but it is a lovely space with fancy tiles, which are apparently left over from the former restaurant there, assorted hanging plants, and clean white surfaces. On a recent Saturday night, we walked by Burdock and noticed that the establishment was very crowded.

Burdock does not take reservations and opens at five, so lunch will have to be found somewhere else. However, the beer-to-shop opens at eleven.

Number of visits by yours truly: two visits so far, my most recent in November 2016 on a weekday evening
TTC information: just a three-minute walk west of Dufferin Station 
Booze selection: 16 beers with rotating selections of their own brews. They also have cider and wine, but no Pimm’s
Food selection: fancy with a limited number of selections, but a high portion of vegetarian choices. The portions are small
Service staff: nice, but a bit aloof (for my latest visit I was the only person who was not seated at the bar shortly after five and when I sat down at a table for four, I was asked how many people were joining me. I said one more, and I explained that I was leaving before seven, so I was allowed to remain. I later noticed another small group dumped their coats at a second table, but did not appear to be chastened. Perhaps I still give off that bad-girl whiff of trouble.)
Prices: expensive
Toilets: downstairs, nice with tiles and wallpaper
Patio: east and very large
Wheelchair accessible: no, toilets are downstairs and steps at the front
Televisions: nope
Live music: every night, often two shows a night in a separate “acoustically panelled room”. Note, there could be a cover charge
Piped-in music: Dido/Portishead-like music

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

The Prenup Pub

the-prenup-pub-toronto

The Prenup Pub (website, Twitter)
191 College Street, Toronto ON M5T 1P9 (on the south side, between Henry Street and Beverley Street, the nearest major intersection is University Avenue and College Street) 416-506-4040
Google Maps 

Being classy on College Street.

This pub used to be Molly Bloom’s, the embodiment of the student hangout. Molly Bloom’s was in dire need of an upgrade back in 2012, so I was not surprised when it was closed down shortly after my visit and became Pour Girl, which I never got around to reviewing. Then, in late 2014, Pour Girl evolved into the Prenup Pub. When I reviewed Molly Bloom’s, I was probably the oldest person in the pub by 15 years! For this visit to the Prenup Pub, it was practically the reverse. My companion and I were surrounded by lunching professors and gaggles of public service minions. I think I saw a handful of students in the two hours or so we spent there. We were there as it was the opening of the Trinity College book sale, so what better excuse than to check out a pub!

Perhaps, in an attempt to erase the lingering stains of Molly Bloom’s, the Prenup Pub has dark wood panelling, gorgeous light fixtures, and faux leather seats of various heights. The civilized atmosphere of the renovated pub confides its student dive heritage firmly to fleeting memory. Perhaps the only drawbacks are the too-small tables and the chairs which are slightly uncomfortable. The Prenup Pub is designed with different seating configurations in mind, so large groups can be accommodated (there is also a private party room available upstairs) as well as couples. There is also a replica of the famed Manneken Pis fountain that greets one as one enters and there are fountains outside as well.

Note, the Prenup Pub is owned by the same people who run the Village Idiot PubSin & Redemption, and The Town Crier.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first, but not my last on a weekday afternoon in October 2016
TTC information: just a six-minute walk west of Queen’s Park Station
Booze selection: very extensive, with approximately 130 beers including his lordship’s favourite, Leffe Brune, and several ciders, such as Rekorderlig, Cornish Gold, Strongbow, Thornbury, Somersby, and Schöfferhofer Grapefruit
Food selection: limited, but fancy
Service staff: very friendly
Prices: expensive
Toilets: nice
Patio: on the street facing north
Wheelchair accessible: no, steps at front. The patio is also not accessible
Televisions: none that we could see
Live music: nope
Piped-in music: Mr. Bowie’s “Heroes”

Rating: five pints (out of five) 

The Grover

The Grover Pub Toronto

The Grover (website, Twitter)
676 Kingston Road, Toronto ON M4E 1R4 (on the north side, between Main Street and Walter Street, the nearest major intersection is Main Street and Kingston Road) 416-691-9200
Google Maps

I went there so you don’t have to.

My favourite drinking buddy and I first went by the Grover a number of years ago, but we were on the way to a friend’s place, so we didn’t stop. Plus, the font of the name is difficult to read, so I could not remember its name. (Petrarch, as you know, also found gothic type difficult to read.) Anyway, fast-forward a few years and in my constant search for a new pub, I read BlogTO’s “The top 10 new pubs in Toronto.” We decided to go to the closest one to home, which turned out to the Grover. We went there so you don’t have to.

The Grover has actually been around since the 1980s, so it was included on this new pub list as it is under new management and had been “rebranded”. The art on the wall is a nice mix of old newspapers and modern prints. It did indeed have that new pub scent, clean booths, fresh paint, etc. But the thing about the Grover is that it is a children’s pub (you wouldn’t know from the website). I got there and nearly every booth had a child in it. They even have multiple selections for children on the menu. We had a child standing on its hind legs staring at us the entire time we ate our meal (we had sat in an emptier part of the pub to start with). Neither of the child’s parents/guardians did anything about it and one of the former was sitting facing us so she knew what was happening. Perhaps we should have been told we were sitting in the Chuck E. Cheese section? It resulted in an early exit for us.

Number of visits by yours truly: my first and my last on a weekday evening in June 2016
TTC information: take the Main Street bus south from Main Street Station (five minutes)
Booze selection: 20 craft brews, as well as Pommies Farmhouse and Thornbury ciders (no Pimm’s)
Food selection: decent, but rather small servings, with a number of vegetarian options, but generous with the wet wipes
Service staff: slow
Prices: okay
Toilets: clean
Patio: north
Wheelchair accessible: the toilets were downstairs
Televisions: nine, but several were off 
Live music: open mic on Fridays and Saturdays
Piped-in music: ’60s music

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