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Museum Tavern

After awesTRUCK, my friends and I popped into this new spot on bloor St at Avenue (across from the ROM) for a drink. I was really impressed. They're head bar tender has created a really creative and delicious cocktail menu, with barrel aged cocktails, and seasonal specials. Everything we tasted was innovative and delicious. The bartender told us that they are bringing in I believe 200 different Scotch's, and are doing their own pickling and preserving etc for their garnishes. I was pretty impressed. The menu looks safe, but tasty- we were all WAY too stuffed from the food trucks to even try anything.
Wondering if anyone has eaten anything there and how it was?

www.abbeyskitchen.com

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  1. I had a similarly great experience at the bar and am also wondering about the food. It'll definitely be a go-to for me for client lunches this winter.

    1. On my list of places to get out to eventually. Some pics and discussion of food in the BlogTo write up:
      http://www.blogto.com/restaurants/mus...

      1. I have now been for lunch three times, each time having a different torpedo (this is their sandwich) which is served with very good fries and oversalted coleslaw. The turkey confit with pork belly was the most delicious sandwich I have eaten in some time though it does ooze grease. The lamb with harrisa was tasty and the quinoa covered tofu became boring before it was finished. Portionsare generous and the sandwiches priced at around $15 dollars. The cocktail list is interesting and the drinks appear to be made with much care. The beer list is interesting but limited. A very a good addition to the neighbourhood.

        1. I ate there last night. Excellent burger and fries. Very nice room. Good service. Weird dessert -- strawberries in pastry pockets deep-fried. Will probably go back and try their steak next time.

          1 Reply
          1. re: obstructionist

            On my second visit I tried the tuna burger, just as good as their cheeseburger, and cooked exactly the way I asked for. And a correctly mixed Perfect Manhattan.

          2. Ah, I am so happy now. Finally somewhere to eat in my hood. Pray it doesn't become like the rest of them in Yorkville.

            1. I love this place. Great food and you can get absolutely $hittered going through the scotch list which they serve in 1/3oz, 1/2oz, and 1oz portions.

              6 Replies
              1. re: Notorious P.I.G.

                ooh! nice... Must go to take advantage of that!

                1. re: jlunar

                  ah. excited.
                  Notorious- what have you eaten?

                  1. re: hungryabbey

                    Uhm...white fish tostadas (not sure what kind of fish) Tuna Tartare, Duck Buns, Oysters, something else, I can't recall but they where all really well done. Tuna came in a Cornetto that was nicely sweet.

                  2. re: jlunar

                    Yes. Very nicely considered scotch list. I went in there to take advantage of it and it ended up taking advantage of me. I am pretty sure I got werewolf drunk like waking up in someone's backyard naked with a knife in your hand drunk.

                2. Went here last week - had an excellent cocktail and the white fish tostadas. The tostadas were very fresh and hit the spot. A clean dish with good execution. Very surprising to see in a bar!

                  I'll definitely be back. With this place and the Oxley, there are finally some nice bars in the neighborhood!

                  2 Replies
                    1. re: eastcoastwestender

                      I was surprised at how good the tostadas where actually. Very simple but perfectly balanced tastes and textures. I think it's just white fish with cabbage and cilantro and maybe a mayo like sauce. They're pretty big too.

                    2. Went last night. The room reminded me a bit of L'Express in Montreal. Very friendly service. I'm not a real cocktail or scotch drinker so no comments on that (though I was intrigued by one customer who was sipping some drink from a copper cup with a straw...?). We ate the whitefish tostadas, the tuna in the cones, heirloom baby tomatoes with feta salad and maple baby back ribs. All of the food was quite good - not stellar but well done, and well priced (for 4 "small plates" and a few beers, our bill was $84). I like that you can make a meal of the small plates (will try the lobster roll next time). Great addition to the 'hood and will be even nicer when the weather cools down a bit.

                      11 Replies
                      1. re: peppermint pate

                        Does it bear any resemblance to Bemelman's in look or feel? I'm planning a gathering there of friends who all came of age (under age :)) at Bemelman's.

                        1. re: crawfish

                          You can see some good pics of the space in the Blogto link I posted above.

                          1. re: crawfish

                            I'm straining my brain to remember what the interior of Bemelmans used to look like - even tried googling some images but didn't see much. It has that old school American bar feel to it -checkered floors, leather banquettes, maroon and gold palette, servers in white shirts and black ties with black aprons. A bit like The Senator and maybe what Rhodes used to look like? In any event, there is a Bemelmans connection with the ownership (which I'm guessing you already know?) so you can use that to justify the venue for your reunion of "minor" drinkers...:)

                            Just curious, for those that have been to both, does The Saint have a similar vibe/look as Museum Tavern?

                            1. re: crawfish

                              The Now Magazine review from the August 30 issue is titled "Bemelmans spirit" so I guess that says something about similarities (and also talks about the connection between Bemelmans and Museum Tavern).

                              http://www.nowtoronto.com/food/story....

                              Says that they even hung the old Bemelman sign over the bar.

                              1. re: ylsf

                                Bemelman's was the best little restaurant in T.O. in the late 70's; good food, good atmosphere, no attitude (we were university punks, and still got treated well). I miss it.

                            2. re: peppermint pate

                              Completely agree on the L'Express similarities in the room-although perhaps slightly more upscale.

                              1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                Hmmm now I am even more interested in checking this place out. Is the food as good as L' Express?

                                1. re: millygirl

                                  Haven't been to L'Express in many, many years and didn't try enough of the menu at MT to properly compare. The menu at MT is much more contemporary and with international flavourings than the classic bistro fare of L'Express (eg. MT does offer the ubiquitous steak frites and roast chicken but not kidneys or boeuf bourgignon - they also offer items like whitefish tostadas and maple glazed baby back ribs, which you certainly won't see at L'Express). And of course, Museum Tavern is an American style tavern, and not French - for me, the comparison was in the old world feel, decor and service. My gut tells me that at least in its heyday, L'Express would have had the culinary edge in the kitchen. But MT is definitely a good new spot and worth checking out (and certainly easier to get to than Montreal...).

                                  1. re: millygirl

                                    Hi Millygirl-I just meant similarities in terms of decor/design, not food.

                                    1. re: Splendid Wine Snob

                                      I see that now. I just got ahead of myself with anticipation....

                                      No worries, still adding it to the list of.....

                                2. Oh man, had the turkey confit torpedo at Museum Tavern today, easily one of the best sandwiches I've eaten this year.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: childofthestorm

                                    I had this too this week -- it was amazing.

                                    Now if only they would fix their desserts, none of which I like so far.

                                      1. re: hungryabbey

                                        Tried the devils food cake, the fried strawberry pie, and the cookies. I couldn't finish any of them. The cookies were best, which I enjoyed except for their home-made Oreo.

                                        1. re: obstructionist

                                          I didnt have the pie or cookies but i tried the cake. I am not a chocolate lover but didnt mind it. I liked the key lime dessert much better.

                                  2. Went a few weeks back for a meal with friends.
                                    The cocktail menu is both authentic, creative, and extensive. Pretty much everything (especially on the signature cocktail list) was enticing, and it was really hard to choose. But over the course of the night we had sampled:
                                    Peach Cobbler- (rum, fresh peaches, lime, saffron-sage syrup, and lots of crushed ice)- it was super easy to drink and fun to nibble on later.
                                    Cherry Smash (vodka, lime juice, cherries, minted green tea syrup, lavender water spritz) – Better than the Peach Cobbler. This had a delicious herbaceous quality with lots of meaty dark sweet cherries.
                                    Prime Minister (vodka, tomato juice, grain mustard, dill, horseradish, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, tobacco, secret sauce, black pepper)- A really aromatic take on a Caesar that was really extra spicy. When I’m in the mood (and I usually am) for a spicy Caesar, this will be a good go to.
                                    Watermelon Collins (gin, watermelon, basil, lemon, pink pepper-aloe syrup) – while I can’t say for sure whether this tasted of pink pepper-aloe syrup (because like, what the heck is that?), I can say it was delicious. My favourite of the bunch, I think it was gonezo in like two very concentrated sips.
                                    Old Fashioned (bourbon, sugar, bitters) – Oy. Not for this girl, but it was super authentic, and well received.

                                    Okay lets talk briefly of service. It was prompt, attentive, maybe too attentive. Sometimes servers need to know when to back off and just give the diners a bit of time and space. Ours struggled a bit with this concept, as she came back to take our orders literally every 2 minutes, and we weren't even lingering! Within a moment of us sitting down, she had already offered to take our food orders. A few minutes later, she asked again, and a few minutes later, again. After a while, she got the hint and I gestured her over when it was time, but it was a little annoying. In contrast, drinks seemed to sometimes take a while. I can appreciate that they put a lot of care into their cocktails, but when you order a drink, and don't get it until you're sitting with the bill in your hand, it's kind of annoying. Okay onto food. After a pretty stern warning that the mains were pretty big, we opted to share two appetizers and leave it at that before moving onto mains. Here is what we had:

                                    Duck Buns (hoisin, green onion, sriacha)- Delicious. Super fluffy folded bun, packed with moist sweet and spicy meat. I would happily order this again for myself.

                                    Queso Blanco Fundido (with chips, cheese sauce and pickled jalapenos)- Also really delicious. The chips were home made, warm, with a wicked crunch and a nice salty bite. The sauce was smoky, salty and sweet, its richness perfectly off set by the tangy spicy peppers. My only complaint (and this is such a common misstep), was that unless you were LOADING them up, there just wasn’t enough chips for the quantity of dip.

                                    Great Lakes Fish and Chips with housemade tartar, and tavern slaw- Pretty delicious fish and chips. The fries were perfectly seasoned, cut thin, with lots of surface area for crispy crevices to develop. The fish was a massive portion (two piecer) that was flaky, with a massive crunch. I happen to love when the batter kind of bunches up in places, yielding bites that are just crunchy, deep fried goodness. What? Don’t even pretend you don’t love that.

                                    Half Roast Chicken with barley hash, chicken gravy- The chicken was cooked beautifully, with a crispy skin and a moist flesh, but the barley hash (and the gravy I guess it was swimming in) was unpalatably salty. I am a girl who usually complains about under seasoning, but this was near inedible.

                                    Halibut with succotash, ham hock, lemon emulsion- The halibut had a beautiful crispy exterior, but was a little bit dry and overcooked. Thankfully, the succotash was really delicious, especially with the generous chunks of pulled pork tossed in.

                                    Ontario Rainbow Trout with zucchini, artichoke and sherry vinaigrette- Unlike the halibut, the trout was much closer to perfection, though perhaps a little under done in some middle regions of the fillet. Unfortunately, like the barley, this one also suffered from a bit too much seasoning, pointing to some inconsistency going on in the kitchen.

                                    Devils Food Cake with honey roasted peanuts, and peanut butter ice cream- I don’t even like chocolate, but this was a pretty nice plate. A generous individual layer cake (there were about 6-8 layers in there), enrobed in a luscious ganache, that was rich on its own, but really pleasing with the aromatic ice cream. I also loved the little cookie crumble garnish that added a really nice textural contrast with the ice cream.

                                    Key Lime Parfait with caramel and lime butter cookies- This was more my style (I did end up eating most of it), mostly because of the generous thick caramel layer. I never really thought that lime and caramel were a suitable match, but as I was driving home from the grocery store today I kind of changed my mind. The cloying sweetness of the caramel does cut some of bright acidity and mild bitterness of the lime. Throw a little textural cookie contrast, and creamy neutralizing whipped cream in the mix, and you’ve got a nicely balanced dish.

                                    So for: 2 apps, 4 mains, 2 desserts, 9 cocktails, and 3 large bottles of water, the bill came to about $350 including tax and tip. While it was certainly less refined, I definitely enjoyed the meal in its entirety at Museum more than the evening before at Franks where we paid about 30-40$ more (per two people). So will I return? Yes. Probably more than I should, particularly because it’s so close to home. I can’t wait until summer again when I can enjoy that Watermelon Collins on the patio!

                                    Pictures can be found:http://abbeyskitchenblog.blogspot.ca/...

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: hungryabbey

                                      Good writeup. This place is a sleeper hit, going back tomorrow.

                                      1. re: childofthestorm

                                        Had dinner here last night. Love the room, though the hard surfaces really make it noisy and anytime something went clanging in the kitchen, it sort of pierced your eardrums. Similar to hungyabbey's experience, the service was good, but our waiter was slightly hyper and perhaps kept returning to the table a little too often. Loved my cocktail - strong, not too sweet the way these things should be. Food was ok I thought - might need to return and try something else. I had their double cheeseburger, and despite asking for it to be on the pink side, the two thin patties were well done and really, a bit dry I thought. This might simply be a function of their thin-ness - pretty hard to keep a patty this thin medium rare I would think. The fries were good, thin and crispy. My companion's salad looked go, though nothing too special. I'll return I think as it's near my home, and I do like the look of the place!

                                        1. re: Pooledish

                                          I sent my brother there recently, and he was actually very disappointed in the food. I haven't been myself, but it was suggested to me by several different CHers, so I don't know if it was just on off night, or if this place has gone downhill since everyone's been.

                                          1. re: kwass

                                            We went on the weekend with a large group (11). The service was very friendly and accomodating but it took a LONG time to get our drinks (we started to order them as soon as we got one because by the time we were done a drink, we would get the next). But to be fair, the place was packed and an order of 11 drinks on one-two bartenders is tough.
                                            The food was good but nothing incredible. The queso dip is awesome, the stuffed wings were pretty good (more like fried chicken then wings), the perogies were bland and too heavy on the truffle. I had the beef cheek french dip, which got served on a burger bun because they ran out of their usual torpedo rolls. It was a bit disappointing- it was tossed in a sauce that lacked seasoning and had a strange "stale" flavour, kind of like when you don't cook out wine and it tastes raw. The fries are amazing though.
                                            For dessert, I had beignets with a butterscotch pudding, which also lacked that deep caramel flavour I was hoping for- it really did taste like snack packs. My partner (the b-day boy) had the "Joe Louis" which was also, just okay. The texture was nice but it was lacking flavour. All in all, it was fine, and we will be back because its close and the cocktails rock... but they could certainly step it up on the food.

                                            1. re: hungryabbey

                                              Was there last evening and during the after work pre theatre/concert time they could not cope. Food was erratic in quantity and quality and very slow to arrive this is a great place but success may have spoiled it.

                                    2. Used to like the place but I'm a bit worried about it. Went in and a good 1/4 of the beers were out, and they are still rocking the fall menu.

                                      1. Was at Museum Tavern for dinner this past weekend. New spring menu just launched. Food is mediocre to disappointing. Service is good. Pork was served cold inside.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Food Tourist

                                          I haven't been in months. When we went, I found the food to be good to very good and the cocktails were great. Now I'm getting the sense that things have changed for the worst. I believe the mixologist has moved on. Does anyone know if some other changes have happened which would explain the decline in quality?

                                          1. re: dubchild

                                            All of the good bartenders have left. Moses McGintee was probably the mixologist you are referring to.

                                          2. re: Food Tourist

                                            I've been there several times in the past few weeks. I've found the food as good as ever, though some items are too salty for my taste. Love the new Lobster Rolls Newburg and the pumpkin tart. And the pulled lamb torpedo is one of my favourite sandwiches in the city.

                                          3. I was there last week and everything we ordered was fabulous. Excellent flavours and textures, great visual appeal. We're more interested in food than booze (just had a hard apple cider), so I don't worry about mixologists leaving.

                                            I'd only been there once before, months ago, but will definitely go more often.

                                            1. This place suits me right down to the ground. Food, drinks, service, and atmosphere are all excellent. Also a great place to sit at the bar and watch a game (warning this is an insider joke). ;-)

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: PoppiYYZ

                                                haha. I thought their TV was brilliant!

                                                1. re: ylsf

                                                  Ahhhh, An insider !!

                                                  Was there one afternoon and coincidentally the Americas Cup final sailing race was on. Sat there squinting and pretended we were watching the race live from the space station !

                                              2. Had my first visit to this place yesterday. Very welcoming atmosphere, good food and impressive cocktail list. Will definitely be back. The menu has some unique offerings. Highly recommended.