Pubs on Parliament with good food?
Not right on Parliament, but close to HOP and Ben Wicks, is The Underdown, just west on Gerrard (at Berkely). I was there for the first time in December and had the best pub food ever. Sliders with hand-cut root-vegetable fries; pita with hummus - standard appetizer - but the triangles of pita were *perfectly* toasted so that just the edges were crisp. I keep meaning to get back there.
Plus - an unexpected bonus:
There is nightly, live entertainment (folk music) from I think 10:00 PM. I usually avoid that at a pub, as I'm usually keen to chat with friends and not there to listen to music. But after serving the whole place all night, all by herself, the bartender finished up after last call and got up on stage with the other musicians and sang a couple of numbers. She had a lovely voice, and it really made our night.
There is a new place open on Carlton just west of Parliament, called Stout. I think it used to be Brass Taps, but all new people now. I have not eaten there yet, menu is a bit pricy for pub food but interesting enough, maybe it is worth it. Deep fried pickle!?! It does have a nice atmosphere and much better than average beer selection, focusing on Ontario craft beers.
I had an off-putting experience yesterday. i'd ordered a pint and dinner. Dinner was finished, and my pint was nearly gone. An older guy came over and asked if I wanted anything, and I said "I'm good for now." Three minutes later, he came by and dropped the cheque off.
Well, I wasn't going to stay after that, so I went to go pay by Interac, and asked him if "I'm good for now" meant "Please bring the cheque". He said, "Pretty well, yeah. Did you want something else?" Well, I just paid, and gave my tip after to the server who originally seated me.
I guess they want to maintain a constant income per hour per patron? I have never gotten a cheque after I've said "I'm good for now". Maybe I've just been lucky.
Clarification re a different thread: The HoP is not in meltdown. There are a few issues that need to be addressed regarding service, but most definitely not in meltdown. The food might not be of the shockingly high quality and inventiveness it was a few years ago (when it could legitimately call itself a gastropub, though no longer), but it is still more than a notch above average pub grub. (Of late, I would say that the fish specials are the most interesting, things like halibut with risotto and watercress salad.)
From the HoP's Golden Age, Where are they now?
Steve: out of the business (selling lux cars, I believe)
Milan: I don't know
Joan Olsen: private catering
Andrew Loft: chef de cuisine at Paese on King W.
As to other pubs in the area... Brass Taps, on Carleton, steps away from Parliament, does very nice pizza - nothing gourmet, really, just a really good, solid pizza at a reasonable price. I often get a 'za to go from there. I haven't eaten anything else there in over a year, so I'll stop there.
The Ben Wicks has taken a couple of runs at redesigning their menu, and while they had some really good items, they seem not to have sold well, or changes in kitchen staff resulted in a return to the old ways, and it's not really a chow worthy place. I also find it pricey for what you get in terms of quality and quantity. That said, I do like their chipotle wings, and they do a nice mac and cheese.
Cranberries, Parliament just south of Wellesley, has nightly specials that can be pretty good, I am told by a chow savvy friend. She like the steak and caesar (yeah yeah, I know, technically a misspelling) salad on Wednesdays(?). I had a burger there once, and thought it quite delicious.
I hope that that helps.
Ben Wicks Restaurant
424 Parliament St, Toronto, ON M5A3A2, CA
333 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V, CA
Thanks! The Brass Taps on the Danforth is also really good for pizza, and that's all I've ever had there as well. :) Been meaning to try Cranberries as well.
I'm sorry to hear about possible HOP problems just because I always enjoyed visiting there. Always enjoyed the food, never had any service issues. And I love their outdoor sunken patio in the summer. Well, I've verified that I still enjoy Caplansky's, time to plan a visit out that way soon. Hmm, I do have a business function I could book near there and then drag people out after...
I agree with your statement about the HOP having issues.
I used to love eating there a few years back but I think they have a different chef now. It is still good but far from great.
The biggest issue they have is that 300 pound rude and senseless gorilla. Why anyone would pay him to work there let alone tip him is beyond my comprehention.
I am looking forward to seeing the new place when they move but I would be a lot happier to know they got rid of the ape.
What ever happened to customer service?
re: mark lafontaine
I still love the food at the HoP, but have to agree with the comment about the gorilla. I only go on Sunday nights when the staff are awesome! Any other night, you take a chance of being berated and made to feel like you don't matter. Why the owners don't get rid of him is beyond me.
the last time I went to HOP, I walked out...rather than put up with bad or indifferent service, I voted with my wallet and my feet and went elsewhere...really they won't do anything about the lousy service (if they even know that they do) unless they see their business decline