Leslieville Pub Crawl
In precisely one hour I'm going to attempt a Leslieville pub crawl - purely for journalistic and research purposes.
I'm starting a Lolabar as it's closest and heading west. Am I missing anything to the East? And where do I stop, Broadview? And where should I stop for grub?
I will report back to you tomorrow.
Your humble reporter
looking forward to hearing your report. I move to queen and broadview area in a month and anxious to try the restaraunts and pubs in the area.
The road to disappointment is paved with good intentions. The very fact that I was awake at 8am this morning – sans headache – speaks volumes. It’s not that Leslieville doesn’t have any drinking establishments, it’s just that I didn’t really want to stay in any of them.
Lolabar – great décor and a fun martini list for after work tipplers. No draft beer, just a slim selection of bottles. The patio could use a few bushes or hedges to block a little of the noise from the street and the frequent growl of the 72 bus. A larger crowd could have kept us there a little longer, but for 8pm on a Friday this was a bit of a dud. I can see the cozy interior being a great spot in the winter.
Velvet – Stopped in for a quick pint. I like Velvet. It has the trappings of a local fave: quirky, weird and celebrating the diversity of the neighbourhood.
Kubo – We were hungry now, so a quick bowl of noodles was on the cards. It seemed to be hopping until the birthday group of 15 left, taking the party with them. The Kubo Lager was tart – in a bad way – and the Kubo noodle was ordinary, with fresh herbs making up for a little too much grease. $75 for calamari, two noodles and three pints wasn’t cheap.
Barrio – Definitely the most happening joint on the strip, they were three deep at the bar and the tables were full. This proves the adage: do something simple, do it well and they’ll come.
Overjoy – Overlooked. We know what it’s like so we decide to forego. I like Overjoy in the winter – cozy and warm. Not best suited to the summer crowd. And I’m not 40 yet.
DeGrassi House – Closed! I need to walk around my neighbourhood more often. Sad to see a ‘landmark’ close down, but hope springs eternal for a worthy heir – could this be the future home of my disposable income?
The Comrade – I thought I had accidentally stumbled into the library. Cool décor but we never made it past the entrance. For a Friday night we were looking for a little more action. 40 or so more patrons and Comrade could be cool little scene.
Jimmy’s Place – It’s always fun to go into the spots you’ve passed a million times. Jimmy’s is modest but honest; packed with happy kids spending their wages. No one’s judging you, wherever you come from. Cheap beer (Carlsberg on tap and a few bottles) and a busy little kitchen firing out nachos and burgers. But the wings! Unsatisfied by our noodles we ordered up a pound of hot wings ($8) and to my delight they were just how I like ‘em – deep fried, unbreaded, crispy and tossed in a zippy hot sauce. What a joy to find a decent wing at my doorstep.
Two more places to discover, Blue Moon and Soma. Blue Moon appears to be where the parents of Jimmy’s kids drink. Unlike Jimmy’s you can’t help feel that people are looking at you funny. Finally we ambled to Soma, the last stop before the DVP. I couldn’t figure out if I was two hours or two years too early. At 11:45pm, it’s hip, noisy and completely empty. No point hanging around a ghost town.
I parted ways with my one-kidneyed companion (he gets drunk more easily – I’m thinking of having one of mine removed to save money). On the way back home I passed Velvet again, happy to see a hopping scene on the sidewalk and a full house inside.
Jumping into bed at 12:30, I couldn’t help but feel a little unsatisfied. I’ll be the first to admit that you have to make your own fun and, with the right friends and the right mood, you can have a great night in barn, but the right bar can always help set the tone. I fell asleep thinking of what I could do with a hundred grand and the lease to DeGrassi House...
Great report, thanks for taking the time to share. At the very least I'll have some first hand info for when we eventually venture out with friends for drinks... I would have suggested most of the places on your list but interesting that both newer places (The Comrade and Soma) were quiet on a Friday night. No surprise that Barrio was packed though.
The Blue Moon is a bit of an interesting spot... the regular crowd is definitely older and very regular, but they also have (or at least had) weekly nights with dj's and an variety of music styles. I used to spin there on Wednesday nights a few years ago and it was definitely an interesting mix of regulars there for the booze and a younger crowd there for the music.
I'm not really into pubbing, but you did miss some significant places.
At the east end of your crawl would be Gio's (the nose) at Leslie. Very busy and lively. They also have very good food. I just go there to eat, but lots of people hang out and drink wine for hours. Not a beer kind of place, though. Wide age range, but skews toward the younger end. Not cheap.
Strat's (across from the Sushi Marche) has been around for decades. The crowd there is sometimes old school neighbourhood types getting pissed on beer and sometimes more recent arrivals.They don't tend to mix. Two patios (street and roof). A few surprisingly good things to eat. The curries can be delicious and the pizzas are great when the wood oven is sufficiently hot (which, sadly, it often isn't).
Next would be the Tasty Chicken. Always a great place to soak up local culture on Luminato/Art Walk weekend. Can't believe you skipped this one :-)
FYI, Velvet has very good food of the wings/nachos/hot sandwiches variety and usually excellent fries.
DeGrassi House was hardly a landmark and didn't last very long. It was previously Cajun/Creole and equally unsuccessful.
But how could you end your evening without visiting the neighbourhood's most significant and enduring drinking establishment? That would be Jilly's, serving up sizzle, suds, and sex since forever.
Rasputin wasn't bad on my one and only visit. nice selection of vodkas and free pickles/smoked salmon/olives on the side to snack on in true russian style (food should always accompany vodka). Friendly, knowledgeable (and smokin' hot might i add) staff who know a thing or two about vodka. Fun, ecclectic decor. Will definitely go back.
Shame I missed it. Of course it was over a year ago...
Care to do another? Shall we get a group of people together for the hood?
One more licensed venue to add to the Leslieville strip: F'Coffee at 641 Queen E. between the DVP and Broadview recently obtained a liquor license, and started serving beer, including a few like Amsterdam on tap. It's a pretty neat little cafe that's been around for a few years with decent food and coffee, and an excellent little shaded patio in the back. Beer makes it even better.
That's hilarious. Nice little joint. Great location. Absolutely hilarious name. I asked the guy there what he thought it meant, thinking he was the owner. He said he didn't know, but he thought it meant [insert the obvious phonetic assumption here].
In any case it can't be any worse than that Prohibition place. What a farce.