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Beer Bistro - tips and suggestions please

A couple of friends are visiting from out of town and they want to have a dinner at Beer Bistro. Any tips or suggestions, experiences?

Thanks!!
Cecil

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  1. I'm a big fan of the BB. It is a great place to kick back for a couple pints or settle in for the night to see how many of the offerings you can get in on one night. Overall I tend to end up there at least 2 or 3 times a month with various sets of friends.

    Upfront, the beer is on the more expensive side, but the selection is fantastic. So if selection and novelty is what you're looking for, this is the place for you.

    The food is also pretty good. Everything from small appetizers to more inexpensive fare, all the way up to the fancy stuff. I've enjoyed most of it.....especially the steak tartare, the burger and the Pulled Pork Sandwich. They do switch up the menus, so not sure if it is there now.

    Service can be awesome to inattentive, depending on how packed the place can be, which usually happens with the after work suit crowd, not that that should deter you as things are pretty fluid and you can grab a table or spot at the bar relatively quickly.

    Good luck, have fun.

    1. I've been twice recently and while I liked the beer, the food didn't impress me. I had a pizza the first time which I wasn't a big fan of (although I did like my pulled pork quesadilla appetizer), and the second time I had the lobster tacos which basically just tasted like seafood salad and weren't anywhere close to worth the $17 I paid for them.

      1. I've only been there once, really liked the frites and tasty dips. I had the mussels, the one with Thai flavourings, and they were great. Service was attentive and helpful when it came to choosing beers. The beer selection is amazing and the servers really know their beers.

        My only issue was that the room seemed too noisy and the table (at the back) really wide, so that the group of us were constantly leaning in toward each other so that we could hear one another.

        I would go back for the food and the beer, but I'd try to sit somewhere different, perhaps up in the lounge area.

        http://www.beerbistro.com/home.htm

        -----
        Beer Bistro
        18 King St. E, Toronto, ON M5C 1C4, CA

        3 Replies
        1. re: JamieK

          My husband and I are heading to the Springsteen concert on the 15th. Are reservations necessary at Beer Bistro, or are we chancing it if we just show up?

          1. re: Askosrose

            I'd say a reservation is in order if you're counting on eating there that night. Otherwise, you might show up and get a spot in the lounge/bar area upfront to eat/drink or wait there for a table in the dining room.

            1. re: JamieK

              Alas, there were no more openings, except at 3:30 pm. I guess we'll have to find another restaurant nearby.

        2. When I went we all had the steak frites which were really good (nice think frites with homemade ketchup mmm) , to start I believe we had some type of ribs and the corn dogs with duck I believe, both of which were really delicious. I recommend the place for sure

          1. We tried Beerbistro for the first time this past weekend. While it wasn't awful, we won't be going back.

            The beer selection is amazing, though very expensive. Our waiter was attentive, but he failed badly when asked to help with beer selections from the huge list. Given reasonably precise descriptions of what each of us liked, and knowing what we had ordered, he enthusiastically recommended some beer pairings. While okay, they didn't have (even remotely) the characteristics we had requested in our beers.

            The food was disappointing.

            The Bistro salad was huge and contained good ingredients. But there was no sign of the promised "lemon and white beer truffle vinaigrette". It had a bland, characterless dressing and needed much salt and pepper.

            The Slowww Smoked Shoulder of Lamb with goat cheese mushroom gnocchi, fava beans, and tomato fennel ragout sounded enticing, but the dish was a bust. The little brown lumps of meat looked unappetizing. They arrived tepid, were not tender, and tasted blah. The goat cheese gnocci did taste of goat cheese, but were dry and unappetizing and became overtly bad tasting as they cooled. There were no discernible mushrooms or fava beans. The tomato fennel ragout dominated the dish and the fennel was overwhelming relative to the other weak flavours.

            The smoked prime rib of beef bones did taste of smoke, but had no other discernible seasoning. The parsnip corn smashed potatoes and slaw served with the ribs were both pretty good (though there was no discernible corn).

            I will say that the frites (which we didn't have) on the tables alongside looked and smelled wonderful.

            4 Replies
            1. re: embee

              When it comes to beer joints, I stick with the general rule that you're better off not going for the fancy fare. Stick to some fries (fabulous at the BB) and a burger or tartare... the more bistro like things. The minute a beer place mentions truffles, I take that as a flashing beacon saying "DO NOT ORDER", no matter how drunk I am.

              While I have had dinner there and enjoyed it, it certainly isn't top of my list to go out for a fine meal. It's the place I go if I'm hanging with the guys, drinking beer, needing some food before going to a Leaf game or getting loaded (*please drink responsibly - do not drink and drive - sponsored by MADD!) before hitting other activities.

              Gnocchi, fava beans, salad. No way Hose-Ay!

              Surprised they weren't better on the beer advice though. Someone should give that waiter a spank.

              1. re: DowntownJoe

                I agree totally with the thrust of your comments. The problem with BB is that they have positioned themselves as something far more haute than a "beer joint" or even a "gastropub". The spin seems to be that beer can be much, much more than just alcohol to wash down your burgers, wings, and fries. And, indeed, it can.

                The menu items we tried did not strike us as likely to exceed their grasp. They sounded interesting, but still simple. The salad would have been great with some good oil and a sprinkle of truffle salt. The beef ribs could hardly have been simpler. Gnocci is just a peasant-style pasta.

                If I were to view BB as a "Firkin" type of pub, they might deserve high marks. But they claim to be something else.

                1. re: embee

                  i find that the cost for value is what has enticed me to go to the beer bistro and often make it one of my main stay options. i have heard, however, that recently they've been jacking up the prices of the beers and it's made me stay away and opt to grab pints at volo instead. food wise though, the value proposition is still good.

                  interestingly enough.. i always found their slow cooked foods to be the better ones and their seafood to be the greater disasters. frites are wonderful there, large and meaty... the way i like them but still crisp on the outside. their desserts are fabulous. i despise cheesecake and theirs is just amazing.

                  one of my biggest issues with them, is their service staff. shy of the bartenders... no one seems to have a clue about beer there! looking to veer off the beaten path, i asked for a suggestion and one waitress just kept offering denison weissbier! to everyone! for every pairing. they are pedestrian at best, which is highly unfortunate.

                  1. re: embee

                    Embee, I absolutely agree. They have definitely set themselves up that way. I just don't fall for the hype.

              2. I think it is good value to eat at Beer Bistro, the food is not top of the line but around $20 for the main course, it is not bad at all. Have not been there for a while, but I think they still have Live Jazz on Saturday night ? Big portion of food, I like the beer taste onion soup. Mussel is so-so, steak frites is good. Lively atmosphere, good service, lots of choices for beer.

                1. I was there for lunch several times & found the food was good (not outstanding), good service & good selection of beer. Very enjoyable.
                  I'll definitely recommend it.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: ace123

                    I've been there for brunch /lunch and their baked eggs were fantastic and the baked mac and cheese with crispy bacon looked amazing. Saw some good looking burgers go by. When I went it was a sat just after 1pm so it wasn't busy at all and the service was good.

                  2. Tried it for the first time before the Ben Harper concert on Friday. We were told there were no reservations until 9:00 but we ambled in around 7:30 to take a chance on a bar seat and ended up with a table. Our waiter was great and responded well to our request to be out within an hour or so. After we picked our dishes, he chose a complementary beer based on our taste preferences (lager, ale, bitter, etc.) - I can't remember the full name of the one he chose for me - it had Vienna in the name - but I LOVED it.

                    As others have said, food is competent and good but not knockout. We had the fries which were a little meatier than I like (I like thinner, crisper frites) but they were well salted and served with sides of mayo and bbq sauce (the combined effect of which was surprisingly tasty). We enjoyed the mussels - they serve them about 7 different ways, we had the first ones on the menu with ale and cream and some other stuff - served with a small boule of sourdough bread. My husband thought the bistro salad was a bit blah but I liked it. The wings were okay as was the shrimp and bacon. It was quite noisy. I wouldn't go there for a destination meal but I'd go back, particularly if you're heading out somewhere nearby afterwards - the other neighbourhood options are way less interesting.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: peppermint pate

                      Old Vienna? and that bbq sauce is what they call ketchup.


                      Chow!
                      HL.

                      1. re: HarryLloyd

                        Its a dressed up pub and pub food is what they do - burgers, fries, calamari rings...they need some stuffed potatoe skins (or do they have them). Its overpriced and pretentious and sucks.

                        1. re: HarryLloyd

                          It was St. Andre Vienna lager - really tasty. And I guess you're right about the ketchup, though it's a "smoked tomato" ketchup (per the online menu) - definitely had more of a bbq sauce flavour.

                      2. The beer selection is great but I thought the food was only okay. The falalfel balls were ridiculaously small and over-priced as an appetizer and my mussels were so-so. My husband had a steak and it was thin and over-cooked. I had been looking forward to the Dragon Stout ice cream for dessert but it was relatively ordinary.

                        1. Thank you all for the replies!

                          We enjoyed it. Everybody liked the beer selection. As far as food, we 'only' ordered three kind of mussels and the steak frites. So, couldn't comment on the other food. The steak was great though.

                          Thank you!

                          1. A group of us tried it once this summer and I just don't get what all the fuss is about. There is a great selection of beers, most of which are way overpriced. The food is okay but they should stick to the simple pub stuff. It's the kind of place that represents itself as upscale but I've had better grub and cheaper beer in some pubs. But it's great for people watching if that's what you're into.

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: basile

                              I don't understand the complaints that the beer at BeerBistro is overpriced.

                              As I recall, the draught beer prices are on par with other places in town - probably not as cheap as some pubs, but this isn't really a pub.

                              Some of the bottles are expensive - but too expensive? In a lot of cases, BeerBistro is the only place in town to get a particular beer. They put a lot of effort into sourcing and storing an interesting variety, they're entitled to set prices. On the stuff that's available everywhere else, I've never found that their prices are out of line from the norm.

                              1. re: detritus

                                brooklyn lager at BB: $9/btl. at LCBO: $12.40/6btls.


                                Chow!
                                HL.

                                1. re: HarryLloyd

                                  Yeah, sure - it's not that different than the mark-up on wine all over town.

                                  How does it compare to other licensees selling Brooklyn Lager in town? Are there even any?

                                  -Josh

                                2. re: detritus

                                  You are paying pint prices for volumes well less than a pint. DeKoenink is something like $5 for 250ml. Pretty steep in my book.

                                  1. re: DowntownJoe

                                    Went there last night for the first time before the Chris Rock show and thought it was okay. The food as most others have stated was decent but nothing spectacular. The beer options were impressive and we really enjoyed those we selected. We did find it a bit overpriced for what we ordered. We had two apetizers, a bowl of mussels and four beers (two half litre draughts and two 330ml bottles) and the total came to $80 before tip.

                                    The service was all right for most of the evening. The waiter was somewhat aloof initially, but adjusted quickly when he seemed to recognize that we didn't appreciate his style. He was at first inattentive, but it was busy and this improved as the restaurant quieted down. My partner ordered a small draught but he brought the half litre instead. When we ordered our second round of food and drinks, we asked him to bring the bill as well since we were in a rush and he was accomodating.

                                    The one thing that put me off a bit was when we asked for more bread. My partner was feeling a bit tipsy after drinking double the amount of beer she was expecting on the first order. She asked for some more bread when we were finishing up our last order. The waiter obliged, but felt it was necessary to mention that normally they only provide bread with the mussels. Not a big deal, but thought it was little tacky to mention this after I had already given him a fairly generous tip.

                                    Despite this, I'll probably go back but only for a beer or two since their selection is awesome.

                                    1. re: badbhoy

                                      We tried to get in on a Saturday night in Jan. but they were full. I knew we would be back in TO in Feb. so I made a reservation a month in advance. When we got there our table was at the back right beside the hallway to the washroom. It ruined it for me as people were constantly shuffling by to go to the washroom. We walked past a nicer empty table for 2 to get to the crummy one. I didn't say anything so I guess it's my fault. Waiter was nice, beer was good, food was fine. We sat at the bar after dinner and had a special coffee - it was the best part. Next time I will try somewhere else.