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"The Wren" on Danforth -- anyone heard about what it's going to be?

An old DIY arts studio on Danforth close to "Sauce" is closing down and there is a liquor license application on the window for "The Wren".

Has anyone heard about it? I hope it's a good restaurant and not a bar. That strip has enough bars as it is with Sauce and Morgan's and Sarah's there.

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  1. I hope it's a restaurant, and could the next bar please open East of Coxwell. We have nothing here.

    11 Replies
    1. re: mariecollins

      I could not agree more! That stretch between Coxwell and Greenwood must have more skanky dive bars than any other neighbourhood in town, it's depressing and scary.

      1. re: KitchenVoodoo

        Don't be so quick to judge! As wretched as they might look, more than a few of those places are hidden gems- quiet, owned by nice people, surprisingly hospitable and cheap.

        Every month or so, a small group of friends and I go Danforth diving and hit five or six of these places, usually bringing one or two new people. The common reaction from the newbies is pleasant surprise!

        Just saying...

        1. re: biggreenmatt

          Where do you recommend, if I want to be pleasantly surprised? Please do share...

        2. re: KitchenVoodoo

          Hey, Greenwood to Coxwell has Morgans, Sauce, and now The Wren. East of Coxwell umm, TKO's, the Groove?. Perhaps the new condo building will drive some development.

          1. re: mariecollins

            I like Morgans (great Thanksgiving dinner menu, even if dining alone), and The Wren was OK - sad supermarket burger buns in use and fried chicken pretty flabby.
            But to spend close to half a million dollars for a plywood condo that faces onto a bunch of dive bars and a methadone clinic? That's the reality of that stretch of the Danforth. Walk by those dive bars any time of day or night, observe the clientele, please don't try and tell me that these are undiscovered gems of mom and pop wholesome food.
            I'm glad that Morgans and The Wren have taken the plunge, long may they succeed.

            1. re: KitchenVoodoo

              On the other hand, 10 years ago, Ossington was strictly gangs and dodgy Viet karaoke bars...

              1. re: biggreenmatt

                that methadone clinic opened in the summer. it's humming.
                it ain't going anywhere.
                but hey, wQw is littered with methadone clinics and it hasn't done anything to drive business away. there's also that little building called CAMH which doesn't seem to keep anyone away from the neighbourhood.

              2. re: KitchenVoodoo

                That's not between Coxwell and Woodbine, which is where I'm talking about. The new condo is just west of Woodbine, next to Cake Town Cafe, opposite Celena's Bakery, Moberly Fine Foods, and Royal Beef. The only dive bar there isn't even that divey anymore. Homes in the neighbourhood go for 700K now - I'd want to tap into that market.

                1. re: mariecollins

                  There may not be anything much to tap into, as even if you put 25% down on $700K, you would need to have an income over $160K to pay the mortage etc. I bet the people buying those homes are "tapped out" already!

                  1. re: foodyDudey

                    We have to drown our sorrows somewhere! A recent frigid Saturday evening Morgans, The Wren, Sarah's and Melanie's were all jammed. Ended up with an OK meal at Signature Kitchen. The neighbourhood is even throwing fund-raisers etc. at The Linsmore Tavern. Here is the result of a recent DECA (Danforth East Community Association) survey:

                    Question 1: “What kinds of new businesses do you want on Danforth East?”

                    # 1. More Restaurants and Pubs – when combined they were the top request with many people specifically citing things like: good quality places, family-friendly, healthy food options.

                    Let's face it, it costs 500k + to buy anywhere in the core now. Yes, after mortgage and daycare, I'm broke, but I can still manage a neighbourhood meal with some good beer once or twice a month.

                    1. re: mariecollins

                      Yeah, I was struck by just how crowded the Wren was (30 min+ wait for a table) on a Saturday night in January. People are obviously desperate for anything the least bit cool in this area. I don't even think it's about the food, a somewhat limited menu which I find to be OK to good, not 30-45 minute wait material.
                      People are paying those prices to live in the "core" because they want some of the down town lifestyle.

        3. I heard it was going to be an Irish pub from the owners of sidewalk cafe they know the landlord

          1 Reply
          1. re: shelovesfood

            Darn. Hope they serve decent food, but really, another bar? At least it's not another Ethiopian restaurant.

              1. re: bytepusher

                Unless their blinds are craft paper, not sure they are open. Drives by 30 min ago and it did not look functioning. Could be wrong though.

                1. re: shelovesfood

                  Went tonight had the chimichanga $15 and burger $12 the places renovated okay not for a crowd of over 50. I found it strange that owner wasn't out there asking people how everything was. Will try again in a couple weeks and see how everything is but I'll give it a six out of 10

                  1. re: shelovesfood

                    How was the noise level? I have lots of money to spend in restos but will not patronise any that give me even temporary damage to my hearing.

                    1. re: KitchenVoodoo

                      Weird techno music was playing but not loud the room was crowded but noise level tolerable

                2. According to their twitter feed, they were open last night. Not sure if it was a one-off or a soft open. Anyone go?

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: biggreenmatt

                    I peeked inside while walking by and there was a sign on the door indicating that it was open that night, cash only.
                    From what I could see it looked pretty nice on the inside, will be curious to hear reviews.

                    1. re: biggreenmatt

                      Looked busy last night. We need some hipster out here on Danforth east. (?) Can't wait to go tonite.

                      1. re: neighborguy

                        Had the chimichanga and burger and a couple of pints. Food and portion size were acceptable.

                        Decor is fun but grown up with a communal table running down the middle of the room.

                        A mixed crowd age-wise, not only 20-somethings. Noisy.

                        Would have been nice to meet the owners.

                        I'll go back.

                        1. re: neighborguy

                          That's so funny we had the same thing.
                          I think they need to iron out some details. But a quaint addition to the neighborhood.

                          1. re: shelovesfood

                            I live close by and am happy there are so many places to go to now compared to just last year.

                            How did you like the burger? The fries were great and I could have had more. Ever had the burger at TKO's? It's quite good too.

                    2. A welcome addition to the "block of despair" on this part of the Danforth.

                      It's not necessarily a pub; tonight a healthy representation of the stroller-set as well as a wide range of ages. Music not loud.

                      They have not been open long, so the menu is short. Service is very good, and the Ontario craft beer list is A++.

                      I left at 7 pm and the place was packed. They have three booths, four tables (plus a booth + that seats six) and a trendy, yet illogical long communal table (it's always the last place people want to sit. Sure, you can fit in more seating, but really, am I wrong in assuming that most people prefer a non-sharing table?!)

                      Had the pork chimichanga. The sauce on the pork was not overly sweet, and the accompanying salad and beans were a good foil. Very willing to go back and support folks willing to invest in a business along this strip.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: goodfoodandbeer

                        That's exactly the detail I was looking for - thank you. "Music not too loud" will get me in there. The long communal table probably means sitting on a bench - I prefer a chair. Nevertheless, I will give this place a shot for sure. Like you, I am always willing to support new efforts along this strip and will bring friends

                      2. Went last night with a bunch of the peeps.

                        Firmly believe that you can't tell a damn thing about a joint in the first couple months (never mind first week) that it's in operation. Kinks need to be sorted. Routines need to be established. Y'know. You gotta be fair.

                        Food was good- very good, in fact. I had the brisket sammy, and thought it was competent, which is far better than most brisketeers in town can claim. Wings were excellent, as was the guac. Really well done.

                        Only quirk I would mention in the first week is that I'm not sure what kind of a place it is. Between the seating layout and the size of the bar, it doesn't quite feel like a proper restaurant, nor does it feel like a proper bar. Interesting to see what they'll want to do with it.

                        Welcome to the neighb!

                        1. Tried it out over the weekend. Love the decor, vibe and well-selected tap list, mostly seasonal selections I hadn't tried before.
                          Menu is quite short, and if you're bored of pulled pork, burgers and brisket, not very exciting. There are some options though. I had a chorizo "gumbo" that was fine. Unlike most I didn't think much of the guac, it was overmixed and I can't say brown, but not as pure bright green as it should be. But I make it all the time at home and prefer it made fresh, very simply and left a little chunky. I did like the side salad with (I think house made) queso fresco, like a loose soft ricotta.
                          My verdict: a welcome addition to the hood overall but not a likely food destination.

                          1. I went last Thursday for the first time. Overall, really impressed. The $5 (including tax!) pint special is nice with $7-8 pints having become normal of late.
                            Wife and I split the brisket and fried chicken sandwich. Brisket was okay. I'm not crazy about brisket covered in BBQ sauce. It's hard to taste the meat when it's slathered. I thought I'd love a mix of tender brisket and crunchy cole slaw, but I didn't love it.
                            The chicken sandwich, on the other hand, was friggin' awesome. Very crunchy, yet super juicy. Very nice with a bit of chimichurri on it. Good fries too.
                            Talked to the server, pretty much everything down to the ketchup is made in house. And it shows. This being said, I believe the menu said that there's chopped egg in the guac. If so, that's a really odd combo from what little I know of the origins of guacamole. I'm not really interested in trying it, but I will go back to the Wren

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: air621

                              I thought it was a bit odd too. The eggs, if they were in there at all, weren't noticeable in the final result. Gonna try that chicken sandwich next time.

                            2. I've been now a few times and have this to say about the brisket:

                              It's magnificent. Best I've had in town.

                              I now go in and order a double brisket serving on a plate, no bun, no slaw, and a big thing of their barbecue sauce on the side. Outstanding. The bun and slaw are completely superfluous and are therefore expendable- they get in the way and take up room in the stomach that might otherwise be used for more brisket.

                              Objectively, the meat could use more smoke and I've never been a fan of brining the meat (I like a bit more texture), but having been raised on braised East-Euro Jewish brisket, it's a happy medium for my personal tastes and loads better than what anyone else is doing in town (with a respectful nod to the Pumps).

                              Seriously, guys at the Wren, if you're reading this, you seriously need to consider serving barbecue platters (meat, sauce, a silly side for colour and slices of Wonder bread) and not just the sandwich servings.

                              Everyone else: eat here. Eat here now.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: biggreenmatt

                                Ever had the brisket sandwich at the Tulip?

                                1. Bumping up because I finally tried it. It was awesome. Went with the girls and we ate all the apps and two sandwiches, the calamari and fried chicken. We loved all of it. Great atmosphere for a girls/moms night out, sat at the harvest table.

                                  The main thing I have to say was the fried chicken sandwich was awesome. Almost as good as Hadley's fried chicken! I just wish they sold it on it's own!!!

                                  1. Went for Brunch yesterday and it was fantastic. We had the jalapeno and cheddar polenta dish which was an absolute home run. We also had the eggs benny and an order of waffles and both were exemplary. Great beers on tap. The space is very nice - not cramped or cold in the winter which are big pluses for us.

                                    We will be back often.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: bobbob911

                                      Their brunch polenta is my kryptonite.

                                    2. Since it's been bumped, I thought I'd chime in on how much I love the Wren. Easy comfort food with good ingredients, hella good burger, great beer program, friendly staff. Go before 7, grab a booth, enjoy the perfect local.

                                      1. I went there after closing a show down with a box of props at my side when they first opened and got told in a passive-aggressive way to get out. Maybe I'll make sure I don't have a post-show scruff on and try again, but my treatment by the staff that night soured me on the place.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Pincus

                                          I stopped going after getting a few short pints. I didn't mention it but should have. I'll give them another chance.