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Allens vs. Via Allegro

I am looking for a restaurant for my husband's birthday dinner. He loves single malt scotch and these two restaurants - Allen's and Via Allegro seem to have a good selection. Any recommendation on which one is better? There are no price or location constraints so if you are aware of others, let me know. Thanks!!

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  1. Two more different spots you would be hard pressed to find.

    You are literally comparing apples to oranges.

    Do you want a more casual laid back affair or some place with a more sophisticated ambiance?

    Both are good in their own way.

    1. The food at Via Allegro is generally more memorable than the food at Allen's depending on what you order. At Via, they will actually pair scotch with food and have a scotch "sommelier" so that's extra fun for conversation and learning. Free parking at Via, too. I believe Via's collection of scotch far outnumbers Allen's collection if quantity and selection is important.

      1. I agree with JPJ, it's like apples and oranges. As well, there's a fair distance between the two, depending on how far you want to travel. If it were me, I'd prefer Allens because, even though I love Italian food, I enjoy a pub atmosphere.

        So, aside from the malt scotch selection, it may come down to what kind of ambience your husband prefers.

        1. To start, both get praised and panned on this board. Allen's is a pub, best known for its burgers (food-wise), which will be cooked to order (unlike most places that serve burgers only well done), In comparison, Via Allegro is ostentatious, a place where everything seems larger than life, including the 6' peppermill (not sure if that's the exact height). Their menu ranges from simple, inexpensive well-done pizzas to pricey, overgrown slabs of meat. I have found meals there to range from the sublime to disappointing. When Via Allegro is at its best, Allen's doesn't compete, in my opinion.

          1. I'm presuming that you aren't looking for a whisky tasting menu, and would likely be savouring post meal. Eat at Globe, on Danforth, then cross the street to drink the fine old malts at Allen's.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Snarf

              That's a pretty good suggestion. Something I've done a couple of times myself. You won't be disappointed with the whiskey selection at Allen's.

              1. re: haggisdragon

                There's an excellent selection and John does get in auction bottles and stuff that just isn't generally available anywhere else. The idea of dining at Globe then going Allens afterward is optimal since you will want to belly up the bar anyway, as you will need to talk directly to the barman, the dining room wait staff, while not completely clueless (at least not most of the time, there are exceptions) won't do justice to the full selection.

              2. re: Snarf

                I agree, that's a great idea. Eat at Globe, you won't be disappointed.

              3. Just reviewed the original post. The first criteria was single malt scotch.

                Via Allegro has over a 1000 different scotches. I am guessing that they have more years of Macallan (over 80) than Allens has Scotch. Allens can be a fun place but I would take a cab (and lots of cash) to Via Allegro for a once in a lifetime Scotch experience.

                2 Replies
                1. re: tasoid

                  You're right giving the warning label about Via Allegro. It tends to cater more to expense account folks, so the mark-up is likely to be significantly higher than Allen's. It depends on what kind of experience the OP is looking for. Larger selection, a sommelier tasting reverence for the tasting, but no one around you. Allen's is more convivial and social, likely less pricey.

                  1. re: Snarf

                    Thank you everyone for your opinion! I am leaning towards the Eat at Globe and then onward to Allen's for drinks suggestion.

                2. I was going to say if you want more of an experience, more refined, etc., go to Via Allegro. But then I remembered seeing this article, and I guess if I was a lover of of scotch, this is the guy and the place that I'd trust the most with my experience and $$$: