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Jul 4, 2009 02:06 PM

Ceili Cottage- Report

Our party of four went on Friday, July 3; the place was packed, with a few empty tables. Clearly, they were slammed: no sauces available for our oysters, a 30+ minute wait to be served beer, and a 50 minute wait for any food.

The food- oysters, sausage with mac and cheese, smoked salmon, several salads and shaved ham, were superb, tasty and fresh, laden with bright flavours, unlike heaty, greasy pub fare.

Once Patrick McMurray shakes down his ship, all should be a delight. In the meantime, I wish he'd buy a few barrels of pretzels to hurl the way of famished diners waiting and waiting. We were not even brought bread or water by the very sweet and very inexperienced waitress.

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  1. It's new enough that I'm going to give it some time before I go. I think it wholly irresponsible of the Globe to run a review so early. That said, I think the picture they ran with it tells you everything you need to know at the moment. Tables devoid of food, people fidgeting and waiting, and not one happy face. Everyone, even the best restaurateurs including Patrick McMurray, should be given time before a major paper reviews them.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Googs

      I saw the picture and you're perhaps looking too much into it. It's just a typical picture of a room accompanying a restaurant review.

      I have not been, but it sounds very promising.

      1. re: aser

        To be clear, aser, I too think it's promising. I have every faith that it will be a great place with good service. I think the G&M jumped the gun on reviewing McMurray's new place in order to get the newspaper scoop.

        If that picture were typical of a Toronto dining room I'd be spending more evenings at home.

        1. re: Googs

          Suspect the G&M felt bound to dredge up something positive amidst the general gloom hovering over the TO resto market .Wonder how long the owners/backers will pour money into this iffy joint?

          1. re: Kagemusha

            I'm pretty sure the owner, Patrick, will be putting in his all. He seemed quite in love with the space (he'd mentioned that he'd been eying the property for a while now), and the space is jointly shared (rented?) with the Irish dancing school in the back (his kids go there too).

            I really think that the pub is far from "iffy" - I think it will be highly successful with the neighbourhood. I don't know how it'll fare in the winter, (the space inside is pretty small, I think), but like Googs, I really feel this place has a lot of potential. One strong point in its favour is its late hours and that we were told they would serve as long as they were open, which is really nice. The down side is that they won't get the bulk of core downtowners driving out all the way Queen East to take advantage of it.

            Haven't seen the photo mentioned. Going to go take a look-see now... (edit: only a small shot to be seen on the G&M site now... the main photo for the article is the smoked salmon dish).

   -- food. is. love.

            Ceili Cottage
            1301 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

            1. re: jlunar

              How could an authentic Irish pub conceived by the guy behind Starfish, certainly one of the better seafood restaurants in town, be considered "Iffy"?

              I live about 30 seconds away, and every time I've passed by the patio is packed. Service issues aren't surprising given that the place has only be open for a week, but I think Patrick has earned some patience.

      2. re: Googs


        As it turns out, not really irresponsible. It is six months later, and nothing much has changed from the pic in the Globe. We have tried the Cottage now four times, and each time we've been, the service has gotten more lax, and they've always, ALWAYS, been out of something we wanted to eat. The last time it was the cottage pie, yes, a Saturday, but it was early in the evening, and Saturday IS supposed to be when you can get this item! Today they were out of kettle chips. Out, completely, and my twelve year old was starved. Also, I saw someone say don't go if you are hungry or need to be anywhere on a schedule. Got that right. We ordered the bangers and mash, scone and ham (this is not a cooked plate, mind you) and four grilled oysters. After sitting for more than a half hour, the waitress appeared and said we'd get our food soon and that they were "just shucking the oysters." Huh? Another 15 minutes crawled by, and when our food arrived, mine in particular, I was not impressed. Where was the panko on the grilled oysters? The dish was just this soupy, murky, shrunken cheesy disappointment, that was not grilled, but blandly placed under a broiler just to sort of heat it, or? Not sure what. When I asked about the panko, I got not one but two lectures in a loud, strident voice from the hostess, speaking to me as if I didn't know what a grilled oyster should taste or look like. She then added: "We don't do them like this at Starfish." Dear Googs, no restaurant should ever do them like that. What is so disappointing about the Ceili Cottage, is that I am an east ender, love Starfish, and had high hopes this pub would work out its kinks. It has not, and I suspect the lack of improvement has more to do with the owners, who maybe think us east enders should not expect the same standards as all those swanky downtown folk. Think again!

        Ceili Cottage
        1301 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4L, CA

        1. re: carlaspallette

          What's up with the ham and scone anyway? What a boring waste of money and chewing. My friend enjoyed the beef-of-the-day sandwich, however. (This was on a visit just before Christmas.)

      3. I made this comment in another post and in my blog, but: Don't go with a time-restraint. Don't be starving. Don't be needing to be anywhere afterwards. Do bring a magazine or paper or something to loiter with.

        I really did like the vibe and food, but it's just opened and I feel for the still-learning staff, both on the floor and in the kitchen. Look forward to future meals there.

        -- -- food. is. love.

        1. I've been looking forward to trying it since I first heard about Patrick's plans for a Leslieville pub but have had trouble with their hours. Their website clearly states that they're open for breakfast/brunch on Saturdays starting at 10:30 am ( but the past two weekends they had a sign out front saying they weren't opening until 5 pm (both times I stopped by around noon). After hearing some feedback, I may wait for a while until they sort out their service issues and establish more regular hours.

          3 Replies
          1. re: ms. clicquot

            Hmn. I had wanted to try their brunch at some point (soon). Good to note that I should call beforehand for the time being... Hope you weren't overly inconvenienced!

            1. re: ms. clicquot

              Last weekend their plumbing burst and they had to close while it was fixed.. maybe why they did not open early...

              1. re: OnDaGo

                i went on thursday night, fairly busy. Service was a little iffy, was not offered napkins, water or bread initially had to ask for all of the above so I hope they work out their kinks. The food was decent, had the malpeques (which were tasty but I think Starfish gets the better quality ones), kettle chips, and the peat salmon which was a hefty cut of the stuff, delicately smoked. For dessert I split the apple pie, uneventful pastry and apples were a little on the raw side. Good prices, I'm going back in a bit to see if things get cleaned up.

            2. Here's one big kink: Hubby & I went for Irish Breakfast today at about 1pm today and found them closed. I suggest to anyone going to call ahead. The hours posted on the website seem to reflect their intent rather than the current hours.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Googs

                Yeah I can confirm this, they seem to be opening at 5 every day. Those hankering for the full Irish would be well advised to wait a few weeks.

              2. Went there around 10:30PM on Friday. Beautiful evening for an after dinner patio bevy....just not at Ceili Cottage. Why you ask? Extremely low patio capacity...think empty tables that can't be utilised because of there liquor license. If this was not enough to deter, the 11:00PM (curfew) would suffice.

                It should be called Cinderella's Cottage as at the stroke of 11, everyone is ushered inside (or asked to leave) as the patio turns into a pumpkin. That being said, even Cinderella got to have fun until midnight! ;-)

                3 Replies
                1. re: Mis_Understated

                  Can't really blame the restaurant for the liquor laws. There are a lot of residential homes within hearing distance who probably don't want to hear patio noise late into the night. 11pm seems like a reasonable compromise between the interests of local residents and the pub.

                  1. re: Gary

                    Actually it is mostly commercial in the area with a few single apartments above store fronts.. most residential is off on side streets.. get more noise from street cars then patios... Lady beside the cottage had a petition circulated against her cafe for wanting a backyard patio for 20 seats and the cafe closes at 8pm and has no liquor licence!

                    just some medling people in the hood...

                    1. re: OnDaGo

                      I guess councillor Paula Fletcher really got her chops together on the whole Sound Academy/The Docks noise bylaw battle. Too bad she seems to be against fun. When will these guys realize that putting us out of business isn't in the best interest of the community?