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Against the Grain Urban Tavern (opening early May 2011)

New Upscale Tavern opening up on the Harbourfront

http://www.atgurbantavern.ca/

Slated to open Beginning of May 2011...reno's still being done when we passed by it

Same owners of the Mill Street Brew Pub

NO menu up on website yet, but looks like the space is going to be huge

25 Dockside Drive, Corus Quay
Toronto, Ontario

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  1. Website says its owned by FAB Concepts. They own several other pubs, but not Mill Street. And there's several menus listed.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Herb

      According to this website, Mill St. is in fact part of the FAB brand, but perhaps this info is out-of-date: http://www.hcareers.ca/seeker/employe...

      Regardless, even if this new pub is not going to be a foodie mecca it is exciting to see something like this opening up down in the newly developed part of the waterfront. It will certainly make the heart-stopping hike down under the Gardiner more worthwhile in the summer with Sugar Beach and a pint of beer waiting at the other end!

      1. re: Gary

        The info about FAB owning the Mill Street Brewpub is correct.

        I'm not sure if they have any involvement in the Brewery (which is located in Scarborough, where main brewing operations moved when they outgrew the Distillery location), but they own and operate the Brewpub.

        1. re: gregclow

          I don't care who owns it, anything has to be better than La Prep. I'm welcoming anything else for lunch in the building other than that place.

          I just walked past it though and it looks a loooong way off from an early May opening.

    2. So apparently this place is open now: they put up a gallery of images on their website, and I have to admit that the space and the patio look quite impressive. This will be a great destination down by the new Sugar Beach and Sherbourne Common.

      The menu on their website is surprisingly constrained (aka short, especially for a pub) and though it's a little pricey ($13-15 burgers) what's on there sounds pretty good. The chef is a former sous chef at Beer Bistro. I'm really hoping this place turns out to be reasonably decent despite its corporate background. Anyone else brave it yet?

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

      2 Replies
      1. re: Gary

        I was there for an apres work nosh yesterday and was pleasantly surprised. Even though there was some confusion as to whose section I was in, once that was ironed out, the service was excellent. Shared the pulled pork tacos, veg tempura and the Dockside pizza. All were delicious, with the possible exception that the bbq sauce on the pork was a bit too sweet for my tastes - but I still enjoyed the tacos. The pizza was really delish - their own cured proscuitto (not overly salty!), arugula, sweet roasted garlic cloves and ample chunks of parm.

        The patio and restaurant are very nicely appointed, with an unobstructed view of the harbour. The only detractor for me was the ongoing construction right next door - but apparently it hasn't been too big a factor, and the crews quit early in the day.

        I will definitely be going back again and again as ATG is a welcome addition to our nabe.

        1. re: lcorkery

          I haven't eaten there yet but i was surprised by the menu. It's a little more ambitious and creative than I was anticipating and the patio is lovely. I forgot all about the construction, since I work in the building it's just become background noise and barely notice it anymore but it could be an issue for others.

      2. This certainly isn't good news for me....the FAB/Mill Street people are one of the 'best' examples of a chain that spends great deals of cash to convert great old spaces into great new spaces but grinds out mediocre food with terrible service (albiet with short skirts).

        3 Replies
        1. re: ingloriouseater

          Friends went to the soft opening early this week and loved it. I didn't get much in the way of details except that they came home raving about the place and the food. The fact that it's on the water is an added bonus.

          1. re: ingloriouseater

            This one is bit different from other FAB locations, they smoke their own meats and make their own sauces and source local produce etc. Also, not a short skirt in sight!!!

            1. re: Pebbles

              Really? I work in the building and am pretty sure I saw some short skirts. The patio is huge and looks nice and so far the reports on the food have been positive from co-workers. It's a welcome addition to the building, even if by default because the other option, La Prep, is god awful. 3 people in line and it still takes 10 minutes to get a coffee from the confused counter help and the food tastes like hate.

          2. So, I took my mom to see Glee at the ACC today, and decided to stop by Against the Grain on the way home.
            So, the first downside to this spot is the parking situation. We found a spot on the street where we could park for free, but we got the last one... and the parking lot was a flat rate of 10$ from 9-6 pm, and $ 10 from 6-12. But we got there at 5:45 so it was so awkward and would have cost us way too much for the quality of the meal. I can see this place being a great spot to bike to on a nice day, and stop for lunch and a pint... but once this place begins to get a bit more business, its unlikely we would find another free parking spot.
            On the good side, the space is quite impressive. It is huge inside, with a nice looking bar (with large screen TVs.. even though they were playing infomercials..), and an even bigger outside patio that apparently have fire pits for night time, and lots of couches and lounge areas.
            The service was also good. This isn't fine dining at all, but our server was friendly and mature, which is apparently sometimes a lot to ask for in some Toronto pubs.
            Okay, so the food, we tried:
            Baja Spiced Chicken Nachos with salsa, guac and chili sour cream.
            These were pretty good nachos, but not the best I've had. While a bit skimpy on the chicken, the cheese was generous and perfect. It was still really stringy, but completely melted, and was layered throughout (we did ask for it on just half though so my mom, whos a cheese-o-phobe could have some, and they happily accomodated).

            Prime Rib Special with mashed potato, yorkshire pudding and veg
            Apparently every Sunday, the have a different roast special, and today was prime rib for $20 with potatoes, yorkshire pudd and veg. It was a very generous and surprisingly still tender piece of meat considering my mother insisted on it being well done. Potatoes were a bit bland but I am not a huge mashed fan.

            Pulled Pork Tacos with molasses and tankhouse ale pork, gouda, avocado creme fraiche, and pickled watermelon and radish salsa
            For pub food, I was pretty impressed. The pork was super juicy with a just hint of smoky sweetness, and I loved the watermelon salsa. This would be a really nice light lunch item.

            Daily Poutine with corn beef and a dijon gravy
            I wasn't sure how sharp the gravy was going to be, so I asked them to put it on the side, which is why they probably thought they needed to pop the cheese under the broiler to get it to melt. But after I tried the gravy, I was happy and disappointed. Happy because I liked it, but disappointed because I couldn't taste the dijon at all. It just tasted like basic gravy.

            Fish and Chips with pale ale battered Cape Capensis filet, served with fries, spicy beer ketchup and lemon tartar sauce
            Their fries are pretty good here, and the spicy beer ketchup was an interesting accompaniment. Actually, it was surprisingly spicy, and had an obvious beer undertone. The fish batter was also pretty good, very crispy and not greasy at all.

            So for 3 beers, 1 pop and the above, the total with tax and tip was about $120, not bad for a more interesting casual pub experience. There are quite a few other menu items that called my name (Duck Confit, Smoked Chicken Pot Pie, Short Rib Burger), so I'm sure I will be back on a nice night for the patio.

            3 Replies
            1. re: hungryabbey

              Thanks for your review hungryabbey! I always look forward to your perspective on pub fare.

              1. re: Manybears

                Well, if you go you need you go remembering that its just that, a pub. Its definitely better quality than other options, like the other FAB establishments, but its also more pricey. And surely there are other options in TO for less money, with better food (ie. numerous ethnic spots, for example), but this was better than most in the pub dept. In summary, it was nothing incredibly noteworthy, but nothing offensive, and acceptable for the price if you are in the mood for pub food.

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  but their beer list looks to be quite good.
                  i'd put it as an upper tier bottled beer bar.

            2. Had a real hit and miss meal at ATG last night...

              Good stuff: the view, the beer list, the pulled pork tacos.

              Bad stuff: waited 20 minutes for our first drinks to arrive, the smoked trout sliders (dry dry dry), the wild boar pappardelle which was devoid of seasoning and sure tasted like ground pork to me.

              In fairness, they were slammed inside and out and clearly finding their feet, the manager came over to visit us as we'd clearly had more hiccups than most, and ended up taking a pasta off the bill and comping us dessert. So, that was class. I'd go back, but would probably stick to pubbier fare. The pasta was a mistake!

              4 Replies
              1. re: childofthestorm

                YIKES (review from Toronto Star)
                http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/...

                Guess it would be safe to have a beer on the patio ;)

                1. re: NoFixedAddress

                  I don't often agree with AP, but I must say that given my experiences at other FAB bars, this one will remain on my 'pass' list. This group of bars never gets the food right or the service. I simply think Brazen Head and my head shakes in disappointment.

                  They have wonderful locations, spent millions on their reno's but only seem to get 50% of the business part of it right. Too bad.

                  1. re: ingloriouseater

                    I second that. First time I can remember agreeing with Ms Angry. Service is clumsy and incompetent. Food is mostly disappointing. Stick with one of their interesting beers and enjoy the view.

                    1. re: gothlig

                      Hopefully things are improving at ATG.

                      Come spring 2012 another one is slated to open on Laird, across from Olde York Fish and Chips.

              2. Any current comments on this place? Thinking of going for Sunday lunch/brunch. Always seems to be pretty busy when I go by there but haven't eaten myself yet.

                4 Replies
                1. re: ylsf

                  I went there last month for dinner and was underwhelmed by the food and service.

                  1. re: ylsf

                    There was a review of brunch in the star July-ish (if that counts for anything). They liked it but there were only 4 brunch items, it seemed very limited.

                    1. re: julesrules

                      Thanks, found it:
                      http://www.thestar.com/entertainment/...

                      Yeah, didn't see their brunch menu online.... I think we will head over to Le Select or Marben or maybe Weslodge or another spot then head down to Harbourfront after.

                      1. re: ylsf

                        Brunch has been a contentious issue there since it opened, ownership and management tacked it on as an afterthought, 20k worth of combi-ovens to steam burgers and no flat top grill. No idea how they plan to profit in Leaside without a lake view patio.

                  2. Anyone tried this place for dinner (the one at Laird)? I was going to go there tomorrow...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Ediblethoughts

                      Thanks to all! I'm convinced it's not worth the try..

                    2. One of the worst meals I've had in this city

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Main334

                        I've only had the chicken wings--twice. Better the first time than the second. Wonderful blue cheese sauce though. House made and can't be bought I'm told.

                        1. re: Herne

                          The nachos are pretty good. Low expectations, ok neighbourhood spot (especially considering the dumps that pass as pubs in Leaside - originals and mcsorleys). Certainly not a destination, certainly not gourmet. Stick with pub food items and it's fine.

                          1. re: CocoaChanel

                            We were there a couple of nights ago. The nachos looked good. We both had the signature burger and we both agreed the flavour was good but it was very dry. The patty was completely cooked through. The bun was a good size for the meat and looked good, but it started to disintegrate and crumble as we ate our burgers. Fries were the limp variety rather than crispy. I would rate it as an average pub. Definitely not the worst I've had. What it does have going for it is a great view on the patio and that there is nothing else in the area.

                        2. re: Main334

                          went there once.
                          beautiful space.
                          beautiful young girls working there.
                          so you kind of know their target audience.
                          ordered an Orval and the server was impressed. dude, if you stock it, expect it to be ordered. or at least attempt to educate your clients.
                          ordered the pork carnitas. nothing's more amazing that eating tacos on a President's Choice tortilla. mmmm, carageen gum.....
                          there was a diarrhea-thin trail of meat on my two tacos. $10 por favor. um, no.

                          the best part? the menu describes their chef and the chef's training. as if the chef's designed anything on the menu. it all comes from their food-indifferent head office.

                          i'll go there on a friday for $1 oysters, but i seriously fear that i'd be served a foul oyster.

                          it is a shame because their 2nd floor patio a) is really nice b) is non-smoking. too bad the food is diarrhea.

                          owners: more attention to your food, less attention to having hot, busty waitresses working. this is Leaside, not the Entertainment District.

                          1. re: atomeyes

                            And given the lack of competition around, this place may last much longer than it should...

                            Glad I went elsewhere!

                            1. re: Ediblethoughts

                              they've opened in two spots where there is zero competition: the Docks and, now, Laird.
                              you can go to the Fox and Fiddle if you also want mediocre food along with crappy beer and a meh patio. otherwise, there is no other patio competition in Leaside. you have to go to (welp!) Greektown for your next group of patios. and, really, who wants to do that?