A Local I Wish Was My Local

Since moving to Little Italy a few years ago, the Everyman and I have been on the hunt for a local haunt.

Paramount to him has always been a decent beer list and classic, pub-style fare, but I’ve been searching for something more.

I don’t drink beer, so that’s never been a consideration for me, and I prefer food that’s slightly more thoughtful than your run of the mill wings and veggie sticks, or chicken fingers.  The Everyman’s just as easily satisfied by a club sandwich as he is by a steak, so it can be challenging at times for us to find common ground.

The closest we’ve come to having a regular spot would be Czehoski, where the comfort food is fancified, the drinks are top notch and the staff are hip, but the furthest thing from pretentious.  I also have a soft spot for chef Leor Zimerman, who always has a kind word for us whenever he sees us sitting at the table in the window, and even comes out to deliver our meals occasionally or ask how we enjoyed his specials (note to Leor, please please please put that delectable tamale on the regular menu!!!)  Czehoski excels at simple, delicious edibles, makes a fantastic homemade burger (those milk buns!) and also serves a decadent brunch, with a croissant bread pudding that is not to be missed.  The menu is small, and the room lends itself to lounging, and considering we have not found a true brunch place in the area that isn’t overrated, it’s where we typically head when we want to get our morning weekend eat on.

But sometimes, you really do just want someplace you can go to have a well made cocktail (or in the Everyman’s case, a beer) where the staff are friendly, and the food (if you want it) is good.  A place that has ambiance, that is more like a bar.

Recently, we found that place.

After we returned to Toronto from Outstanding In The Field last week, we were in search of something equally simple, and I had designs to visit a pub on the Danforth called Allen’s.  We’ve enjoyed restaurants on the Danforth greatly before, chief among them being Globe Bistro, but the quality of the experience is always mitigated by the length of time or effort it takes to get there.  Being that I don’t drive and the Everyman hates to, if we’re going further than around the corner, we’re usually going by cab.  Therefore, a restaurant really has to be spectacular to make us want to travel across town for it.  In the case of Globe Bistro, the food is sensational, but to be honest, we really just prefer Cowbell, which is conveniently closer to home.

Our experience at Allen’s has challenged this habit, though.  It’s a simple Irish pub, but it’s one that’s been doing it right for over 20 years.  The room has quiet character that is charming enough, but the real wonder happens when you step out onto their back patio.  At once you are engulfed by a wash of bright light filtered through a canopy of some of the oldest trees I’ve ever seen, not to mention ones residing in the middle of downtown Toronto.  The beer list spans more than half a dozen chalkboards on the patio wall, and the tables are generously spread out around its courtyard.  The outdoor space is peaceful and prosaic and even though we live a 20 minute trip away, I would hop in a cab in a hot minute just to spend a little time in it again.

And egads, it’s not just standard pub food, either!  It’s actually a carefully thought-out menu, and though full of pub staples, they have unique little twists and flourishes that elevate the food to become something quite special.  But the moment I truly fell in love came when I ordered a burger and was asked how I would like it done.  It was all I could do not to kiss our kindly waitress as I ordered what turned out to be the best burger I’ve had in years, reminiscent of the ones my stepdad used to make for me.

Enjoying our food on their lovely back patio was the highlight of the day, encouraging us to step outside of our close to home comfort zone every once in a while.  Ever since that afternoon all I’ve been able to think about is when we’ll be able to go back.

At long last we’ve found that place we’d like to call home, on a little stretch of the Danforth that borders Greektown.  Ironic, isn’t it, that it’s not so close to home at all?

Until next time…

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

5 Responses to “A Local I Wish Was My Local”

  1. scott says:

    OK, Porsha. You’re definitely not giving beer a fair shake. I can see when you say “I don’t drink beer” when discussing Budweiser, Coors Light(Molson, in Canada, I assume). But, you are simply doing yourself a disservice by not trying beer. I am something of a beer snob, there are so many decidedly different beers and tastes, that I can absolutely guarantee there is a beer out there you will certainly like. If you don’t like pilsner, try an IPA, then try an imperial Russian stout. Go with a Belgian dubbel, trippel, or even a quad. There are som many different German styles, from hefe-weizen, eisbock, schwarzbier, weizenbocks. You must come off the absolute “I don’t drink beer” stance and give something a try for the sake of foodieness(is this a word?).

  2. mochapj says:

    Actually, the Everyman is somewhat of a beer snob too, and I have over the course of our relationship been subjected to sampling sips of the various beers that he brings home, from wheaty ones, to stouty ones, to fruity ones, etc.

    I have not yet found one that I like, and I think it is partly the carbonation I have an issue with (I don’t really like carbonated things in general) but also the aroma that comes off beer does not appeal to me.

  3. scott says:

    So you don’t like prosecco, lambrusco or champagne? My goodness, you’re missing out, love.

  4. mochapj says:

    Prosecco or champagne on occasion are fine, but to be honest I do prefer still table wine. I think the only instance where I prefer something carbonated over something still would be in mineral waters, because I find the mild carbonation offsets the “minerality” of the various inclusions. Strange, I know.

    And truthfully, I’m going to admit ignorance here, I have no idea what lambrusco is…

  5. scott says:

    Slightly sparkling red. Good article on it in this month’s “Tastes of Italia” magazine.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.