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Jan 25, 2013 07:54 PM

down-to-earth pubs with decent grub

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  1. How about Harbord House? Rebel House?
    Also, I'm curious in a non-snarky way what pubs you would consider NOT down-to-earth. Q&B is a step above Brass Taps for me in level of pretentiousness and price...

    16 Replies
    1. re: julesrules

      Good point. I probably should have just titled the thread "pubs with decent grub".

      1. re: prima

        And I think the word I wanted was pretension not pretentiousness :) Anyway, pubs, all good. Hoping to check out Museum Tavern next, although suspecting it's not down-to-earth either.

        1. re: julesrules

          I found the Museum Tavern expensive for what's being served, but the atmopshere was warm and inviting, even down-to-earth, when we were there. I wouldn't get the duck buns, the lamb torpedo (sandwich) or stuffed wings again, but I did like the sticky maple ribs (which reminded me of honey garlic) and the salmon sashimi tiridito. They were out of the ahi poke cones when I was there. Desserts were interesting.

          1. re: prima

            Oh? The stuffed wings were definitely on my list, do dish!

            1. re: julesrules

              They sounded great in concept. Ours were burnt on the outside, a little too pink (for my liking) near the bone, and kind of bland.

              The Tavern Chop sounds like a good salad. I'll have to try that next time I'm in the 'hood.

              1. re: prima

                We'll probably order them anyway :) Hubby's bday gathering in a couple of weeks, so glad to hear they are warm and welcoming.

            2. re: prima

              yeah, that's how i felt as well about museum tavern. nice atmosphere, but man is it overpriced. $16 for a sandwich and some fries is frankly insane.

              1. re: autopi

                I have been to museum a lot. I liked the duck buns, the wings were fine, the pierogies are bland but I love the cheese dip! It's salty but addictive. I found the beef cheek sandwich unmenorable, the fish and chips were good ( I do like their fries), and we have had a few of their main courses which are usually just meh. I think I would stick to the simple stuff. Desserts are always pretty, some more tasty than others, but those always change so it's hard to comment . Also, they tend to sell out of things so keep that in mind.
                But we do continue to go because a) it's so close to us and there is nothing in Yorkville and b) the cocktails are great.

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  Abbey, do you prefer the food at the Museum Tavern to the food at the Oxley? I realize the menu at the Museum Tavern is more global fusion gastropubby compared to the more traditionally British menu at the Oxley.

                  Have you tried the food at the Pilot?

                  1. re: prima

                    Um, no I prefer the food at the Oxley (esp. the sticky toffee pud and the ice creams), but I like the cocktails at Museum (I find the cocktails at Oxley really hit and miss depending who you get and the selection is much less interesting). Usually we just see which we can get into quickly.
                    I have been to the pilot but a LONG time ago so I really cant comment. How is it?

                    1. re: hungryabbey

                      The Oxley had escaped my radar. Have you had the blue cheese and cherry ice cream?

                      1. re: julesrules

                        No! It's always on my want list, but I tend to always get the STP and then I want an ice cream that will work okay with that (and blue cheese and caramel is kind of a no-no). Next time I just want a light dessert, I will check it out.

                    2. re: prima

                      I wouldn't put the Pilot anywhere near the same level as the Oxley. It's burgers/nachos/sandwiches, compared to Oxley's full a la carte.

                      The burgers are fine but the grilled chicken sandwich I had last time I was there was revolting - drenched in some sort of syrup which was not good with the cheese and which dripped everywhere and covered my hands in sticky goo. Sweet potato fries are delicious though, if you just want something to soak up the beer. Wouldn't choose it as an eating destination in its own right.

                  2. re: prima

                    Well with my usual disclaimer that I don't get out much, we REALLY enjoyed Museum Tavern for drinks, mains and desserts. I found the food way better overall than Ceili and Q&B, both of which I found disappointing (one visit only, didn't go back - don't get out much, need better when I do...).
                    The stuffed wings were however disappointing. There's 4 wings, and only 2 are stuffed. She told us that up front, but I don't get it especially at the price. The bite I had was good, not bland, tasted the cheese which was awesome but not the bacon. The lobster roll app is very good and with a decent amount of lobster. Mains and desserts were excellent. Service was great.

                    1. re: julesrules

                      On my visit, I found the stuffed wings disappointing, too. I agree, the service was good. The prices were on the high side for good pub food, although it's probably offering the best value for a restaurant within a 5 minute walk of the ROM.

              1. re: prima

                Absolutely, the Caledonian.

                Also, surprisingly, The Dakota Tavern serves up some delicious, and rather healthy (gasp!) food. Short menu. Very well executed. Nice pub before 10pm. Phenomenal concert venue.

                1. re: happycamper

                  Good call on the Dakota. Never had a bad bite there. Hand thrown veggie burgers and single portions of veggie lasagna were my favourites.

                  I don't think the Dakota has a deep fryer, being in a basement and all with live music all the time. As such the menu makes none of the errors other places might hiding food under fried breading.

                  No fries with the burgers, though.

              2. I was lambasted for saying positive things about The Roy on queen east, but I quite liked it. Others went more than once and hated it each time from the sounds of it.

                I also had a pretty good experience at McGugan's on Gerrard and Jones. Went on a group on (I think 2-4-1 dinner + pints). And it was quite good. I had a steak and it was cooked medium rare as ordered and the mash was very tasty. Oh, and the wings were excellent. Pretty good draft selection too.

                3 Replies
                1. re: grandgourmand

                  Thanks, grandgourmand. I didn't mind the Roy, but I'm pretty sure I only tried the wings and drinks.


                  1. re: grandgourmand

                    I hate hate hate the Roy. I've writen about my experience before so I will say no more! ;-)

                    1. re: JennaBean

                      tell me how you really feel?

                      for me, they won points because of the house-made corned beef. and i have a low bar set for pub food in toronto because so much of it is crap.

                      for the record, i've only been the once and haven't returned. mostly because i don't eat out that much and i'm usually with kids.

                  2. the Emmet Ray on College is pretty tasty. one of my favourite burgers of the past year

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: frenchcustard

                      also a pretty substantial whiskey/scotch/bourbon list

                      1. re: LemonLauren

                        Still haven't made it to the Ceili Cottage. Hopefully this year.

                        Now, on to the next part of this question.

                        Which pubs serve the best full English/Irish/Scottish breakfasts around town?

                        Realize the Ceili Cottage Irish breakfast ($15,
                        The Full Irish – Sausage, Rashers, Black & White Pudding, Potato Farl, Fried Egg and the rest! ) has been recommended in the past.

                        1. re: prima

                          About Ceili Cottage dinner or "Irish" breakfast. Don't.

                          A real Irish breakfast hasn't existed in Toronto since The Tara Inn on Eglinton decided to compromise their roots and quality. But I'm not bitter.

                          1. re: Googs

                            Noticed Piper's Pub has a full Scottish, as does McGugan's, on the weekend. Maybe I'll focus on full Scottish for now...

                          2. re: prima

                            Haven't tried either of these breakfasts yet.
                            Monk's Table English breakfast ($14)

                            The Oxley's Full English ($18)

                            1. re: prima

                              I dunno prima. Maybe I'm too Irish, but what Monk's Table has is breakfast. Just a big breakfast.

                              The Oxley is promising since they at least have black pudding. Let me know what it's like if you try it. I'm tired of disappointment.

                              1. re: Googs

                                The Oxley's is higher on my list, but the Monk's Table is 2 blocks from Summerhill station (convenience factor). I haven't found a Full English that compares to the real UK deal (and I haven't been to Ireland, so I can't compare). I'm giving up big fat breakfasts for Lent, so I'll let you know if I get around to trying the Oxley in April or May!

                                1. re: prima

                                  Well I have reason to be in the area of The Tara Inn's Eglinton location, so I think I have to give them another chance. It's tough letting over 20 years of terrific Irish food and even better memories go down the drain so easily. I just hope they decided to return to their roots. The last time there nearly broke my heart I loved them so.

                                2. re: Googs

                                  Hey Googs,
                                  I finally got a chance to try the Oxley's English breakfast. I wouldn't bother going back. Didn't like their sausage, didn't like their bacon. I skipped the fried bread this time. The fried tomato wasn't quite right. Not sure why TO restaurants can't seem to an English/Scottish/Irish breakfast right, when every bed & breakfast I've visited in small towns throughout Ontario and the Maritimes seems to be able to get it right.

                                  Has anyone breakfasted at the Tara Inn lately?

                                  1. re: prima

                                    Thanks for the update. I've not been to Tara lately. It's spectacularly easy to make a proper Irish breakfast at home (so long as you have a dishwasher). I avoid disappointment and never have to complain about the chef.