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Jan 31, 2010 08:10 PM

Duggans Brewery - just a comment, more than anything else....

Let me start that I've really enjoyed this new place on Victoria Street, south of Richmond East, since it first opened. I think my wife and I went a few days after they opened their doors. We've been there a handful of time, twice in the last week alone!

I really enjoy the beers and think the food is great. It's a nice 'little' to hang out and spend some time.

HOWEVER.......I feel that if they don't do something about the service levels, it won't be around long enough for me to enjoy more!!!

There always seems to be a long delay in having the beers delivered once ordering. Then seems to take a while for the server to come back and see if we want another (trust me, we ALWAYS want another!). The management doesn't seem to be involved, after watching the GM standing at the bar drinking a beer (wasn't sampling, but drinking a full pint), and the 2 other managers standing by him on Saturday night. This while the empty dishes that we had just finished sat (stacked nicely - I've worked in restaurants for a long time now) waiting to be cleared. The section sizes that the servers have seem to be way too big and at different areas in the restaurant. The servers and bartenders are really nice people and do a good job but it's just so slow.

I really hope people try this place as I really want it to do well - it's great to have a different spot in the area and like i said, the beers are great as is the food.

And no, I didn't say anything at the time to anyone - I wasn't interested in having anything taken off my bill or to make a scene. I have teh GM's email and I'll be writing something directly.

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  1. A little off topic but is that IPA #9 for sale in take-home bottles here now? I've heard alot about this beer and would like to try it

    4 Replies
    1. re: duckdown

      Yes, the retail store is open and #9 in bottles is the only beer available right now. The selection will be expanded at some point.

      1. re: kwjd

        Totally agree. I like the beer and the food and the place is good value, but the service is a shambles. I had a better experience where the bartender, manager and I think the hostess that seated us chipped in to keep the drinks and food coming but our server was disorganized, running around large areas of the restaurant and clearly had too many tables to cover.

        P.S. When I was there the #9 was displayed but not actually on sale. I think they are still getting licenses etc. That was around Jan. 20th though.

        1. re: alsiem

          No, they are not still getting licences. As I said, the retail store is open now. It opened up last week, so that's why it wouldn't have been open on the 20th. I wouldn't want someone to read your reply and not go to the store out of fear that it isn't open.

          1. re: kwjd

            I'm glad you wrote this because I wasn't planning on going because of that.

    2. I was there on Sat night. I think that the space is great. Very conducive to sitting around with friends and having a great time. The beer was good and cheap. First I tried the #9 IPA, because of the buzz. It was interesting, but a little bitter and floral, for my liking. I should have known better, because I prefer dark ales. I ordered the London Porter next and this was great. I wasn't very hungry so I only ordered the gravlax for myself, which comes with arugala and compote and a little piece of crouton. My only complaint with this is that there were about 3 or 4 pieces of salmon and the one little piece of crouton wasn't adequate to enjoy the salmon and compote properly. Plus, it was a little too crisp for the combination. I think a less toasted piece of bread would go better. My bf ordered the duck confit poutine and the pulled pork sandwich. I tried a little bit of the poutine. My bf loved it. I thought that it was decadent, and the duck had a nice flavour, but the fries themselves were way too undercooked and soggy and could have used a little bit more salt. Didn't find the curds squeaky. Tried a little bit of the pulled pork, which comes on an onion bun, but I only tried a bit of the meat. It was very tasty and tender. The accompanying coleslaw looked tempting, but it lacked acid for my tastes.
      I see what you are saying about the service, although it didn't bother me. I found the waiter pretty pleasant. The beer orders would be taken all at once and 2 or 3 delivered at a time and then 2 that were ordered at the same time (for different people) would be delivered 10 min later. Also, I thought it was odd that 2 people that sat at our table after the majority of us had already ordered, received their order first. But again, I wasn't bothered by any of this.
      Overall, I would go back for the beer and for a good atmosphere to hang out with friends. The food is decent, but I wouldn't call it chowhound worthy - yet?

      17 Replies
      1. re: pescatarian

        I think the one thing on the menu that is CH-worthy would be the mammoth smoked pork hock with beans. It is flat-out terrific, we split it as an app between 4 guys and contemplated ordering another one for dessert.

        1. re: childofthestorm

          Thanks. I'll try and remember that next time I go.

          1. re: pescatarian

            it's really good. and huuuge. photo in post. It's really good. Consistent too. Duck poutine I thought was pretty good, but I think my new fave (I've been three times now), is the lamb.


            1. re: jlunar

              Your duck poutine looks a lot different than what we got. Your fries look crispier and looks like you have more meat and cheese.

              1. re: pescatarian

                The one in that photo was served as a side - not sure why it's so different from the one they serve. the ones we've had since are served in wide-and-deep bowls, but we've found that duck-chunks were plentiful, though I did notice there was more sauce. Might have been the form-factor.

                1. re: jlunar

                  First time I had it was in a deep bowl, and the fries were a bit soggy. Next time was in a wide bowl, fries were crispy, and it was much better. So I guess they're learning? Plenty of duck, although they need to throw some crispy duck skin in there to put the dish over the top.

                  And on topic, I haven't had server issues although of course I've needed to flag people down from time to time. I think we'd do well to remember this is a new business, with perhaps less-than-totally-experienced restaurant people running things. Let's not channel our inner Gina Mallet and rush to judgment. The beers alone make it something special, and I think the place has a chance to become a destination that we recommend to others.

                  1. re: childofthestorm

                    I agree. I wasn't bothered at all by the service. Just mentioned my experience in comparison to the OPs. Overall, I think the place has a lot of potential.

                    1. re: pescatarian

                      As the OP, I want to remind everyone that I reallty enjoy this place too - the beers are great and so is the food. I want this place to succeed. It's hardly a 'rush to judgment' when I've been there multiple times and have xperienced the same level of service each time. I've worked in hospitality for many years now and I know the difference between slow service because it's new, slow service because it's finding it's pace and slow service because there seems to be a disconnect between all levels of staff.

                      For me, eating out is about 'The Big 3' - the food, the booze and the service. And I've seen many restaurants fail just because the service wasn't there. Duggans has MASSIVE potential and I don't want it to fail.

                      1. re: DAB

                        Here's an article from today's Toronto Star on the "V and chips" sandwich--a Scottish take on poutine...chips and curry gravy on a sub roll. There's a photo, too.


                        1. re: Yongeman

                          Twelve bucks seems a bit much for chips & bread, even with a curry sauce.

                          1. re: terrycar

                            I have to agree with you, terrycar. I guess if you're drunk enough, it's ok.

                            1. re: Yongeman

                              They should sell dinner roll-sized versions for $4, stuffed with just a handful of chips and a drizzle of curry gravy. It would hit the spot after a few beers and late at night. A $12 loaf of bread sounds like something that would serve 3 people, especially in the wee hours.

                            2. re: terrycar

                              Agreed completely. 12 bucks? Give me a break. Way too expensive.

                            3. re: Yongeman

                              I had the V and chips for dinner tonight (basically more for the experience than expecting it to be particularly good) and I was pleasantly surprised. I was thinking that $12 for fries and curry was a bit much, but the fries with the curry were a great combination that were really quite tasty as well as very filling. The curry wasn't particularly spicy, but it was really good and everything went well together.

                              I wasn't really sure how one was supposed to eat it (and I was sure that our waiter would be disdainful of however I tried), so I just ripped one side off, held the whole thing in my other hand, and started taking big bites off the end until I was done. Sure enough, when our waiter saw me he said that he'd never seen anyone else eat it that way. It worked pretty well, though, so I think I might patent my method: The Strongbad.

                              1. re: Strongbad789

                                Sounds much more like The Burninator to me. ;)

                                1. re: Wahooty

                                  Only if Trogdor is your dining companion.

          2. Been a few times, and most recently sat at the bar. My impression of the service is that they're well meaning but they've been slammed since opening day and haven't really been able to get a system going. I guess sitting at the bar means you get faster refills on the beer, and after a couple pints I can't say I noticed many delays! Love the way you can get this great fresh beer for around $5/pint when so many other places in Toronto are selling imported pints at around $7. The restaurant GM is indeed a character (if it's the same guy mentioned above) as he hangs out at the bar drinking beer and espousing his bar business theories to random customers (us) on a busy Friday night, no less. Interesting.

            My only real complaint so far is they tend to be "out" of food a lot... last week they were out of all forms of curry, as well as the duck poutine, which I loved the first time I tried it (great crispy pieces of duck, not at all "grayish" as some others have described). I'm afraid that after that chip butty article in the Star they'll be out of those ingredients for months...

            1. Finally, this place has a website. Still haven't been there myself yet.