Enough with the pubs already!
Could anyone please give me the names for authentic-style pubs in the GTA? I am so tired of all these pub wanna-be-types with their previously-frozen foods, cookie-cutter entrees, and pathetically small whiskey and beer list. Pubs have been popping up like mushrooms for the past few years and, frankly, it is getting rather tiresome! And for those of you familiar with classic pubs (especially in England, Scotland, and Ireland), you know what I mean.
I want a place where I can get a good dram of single malt scotch, a Guinness with a "proper pour", a decent ploughman's lunch or fry, and friendly conversation...all without, dare I say it, a TV blaring.
If you know of a good shepherd's pie, or a new pub-style favourite, do post it here.
As for me, the best pub I have tried in Durham is The Fox Goes Free on Kingston Road. Excellent pub favourites as well as intriguing nightly specials and an extensive single malt list. Friendly atmostphere. More like a real 'public house' than the usual North American take on the 'pub.'
Well, I'm a bit of a stickler about pubs and there aren't many good ones in Toronto. P.J. O'Brien's is well known but a pub of that name having "only UK expats" behind the bar suggests a slight lack of authenticity. But, that's minor stuff.
If it's a pub kit chain, some are fine, but they're not cozy.
My two favourite pubs:
1) The Black Dog. A real pub, just south of the 401, off of Port Union Rd. Very good little place that's builty up nicely over the past number of years. When they first opened it, they would make up dress codes in order to reject certain types. So, for certain Scarborough types, they'd say "No Hats" or "No Jeans" as they tried to build up a good group of regulars. Now, that's disappeared and the pub is very good. Not a big fan of their extension, but it's a great little place many haven't heard of.
2) The Queen's Head in Oakville. Exit QEW at Trafalgar and go south to Lakeshore and then turn right on to the main street. It's on Dunn St., just north of Lakeshore on a one-way street that travels East. It has its own parking. Again, I think they should abandon the main large room and throw up a few walls to create smaller rooms, like many Irish pubs, but it's a great little spot. Good crowd (despite their UK expat status - only kidding! :) and a very cozy place.
Never been a fan of the Black Dog. We have eaten there three times, and each time have been served bland, uninteresting food at ridiculous prices. And I have yet to have good service. The Fox Goes Free is much better...and only about 5 minutes away on Kingston Road, near Altona.
re: Richard Warriner
PJ O'Brien's is lovely. Owned by the same people as the Irish Embassy, but a completely different vibe. The Guinness is really well-poured, and the bar staff wear the little white jackets...and I think they must have some kind of rule about only putting UK expats behind the bar--and it really helps the overall atmosphere. I've heard the food is great, too.
I think you'll find exactly what you are looking for at The Feathers on Kingston Rd, a couple of blocks West of Vic Park. They serve very good real pub food, including ploughman's lunch, scotch egg's bangers & mash. The prime rib/yorkshire pud special Thurs-Sun is usually very good. Have other specials that change nightly.
For desert they have a really good bread and butter pudding and somewhere around 200 (no kidding) single malts available and the standard beers on tap. They do know how to pull a pint.
The atmosphere is very classic regional pub with a stand up bar and tables in the bar area somewhat seperated from the dining area. They also have bands on fri-sat nights if that's your thing.
Along with Dora's I'd reccommend The Bow and Arrow, one of the Arrow Neighbourhood Pub Group of pubs. (See link below) I know this is mentioned already elsewhere on the board, but I bring it up again.
Decent menu, although their Ploughman's is inexcusably weak.
Curries and lamb shanks are always good. As are pizzas if you are in the mood.
What makes this pub so good?
a.) regular crowd that makes it feel, well... like a pub. (if you're a Cape Bretonner you must already know about Sunday afternoons)
b.) the seasonal menu featuring "locally grown and crafted products"
c.) the 15+ local microbrews on tap,
d.) the extensive selection of single malts
the most important to me:
e.) they hand pump real ales and bitters from casks in the basement. If you know how special this is... you know how special this is.
Hi, I feel your pain. I have two questions about the Fox Goes Free:
Do they have a fry with white pudding? I would love to find this stuff in Toronto. I have a lead on a pub in the West End that I have to check out.
Do they have steak and kidney pie? For all these pubs that are springing up, almost none seem to have steak and kidney pie. And if they do it's crap. Even some of the pubs that have been around for a lot longer seem to be taking it off their standard menus. And then to top it off, some places that do serve it, don't make'em like they should--I had it recently at Ben Wicks on Parliament and was seriously disappointed.
It's a bit of a hike from Durham, but there's Dora Keogh's on the Danforth east of Broadview (see URL below). Eccentricities of the house: a) food can be ordered only by pre-arrangement; b) the washroom signs are unilingually in Gaelic.
Huge fan of the private dining experience at Dora Keogh. There is a private room in the back with a small kitchen and you are served a 7 course meal all for a set price. We usually try to get 6 to 10 of us together whenever we set this up. However, this isnt an overly friendly bar and we have been requested to quiet down in the back room.
My pub suggestion would be the Jersey Giant on front. The food is not bad and they have good beer selection and people are friendly enough.