Disclaimer: I grew up in Etobicoke and therefore have a number of prejudices associated with the place. Very little good has come out of the the area – a couple of musicians (Broken Social Scene, K’naan, Basia Bulat) and the odd sports figure (Joey Votto, PK Subban). All of which is cool until you factor in that Stephen Harper was actually Etobicoke born and raised, which destroys the Klout rating. Because some sections are heavily industrial, Etobicoke has also given rise to some excellent craft breweries (Great Lakes and Black Oak) and a contract brewery used by Duggan’s and Spearhead. Even with all that brewing knowledge located nearby, there has been a dearth of bars and restaurants that support craft beer. That has all changed thanks to The Monk’s Kettle, a new pub open at Bloor and Royal York.
The Monk’s Kettle has only been open a couple of months but is already quite the draw. Every table was full this past Friday when I visited around 6pm and there was often a wait for people throughout the evening. (Things I had forgotten about Etobicoke – people like to eat early.) The space is fairly tiny, which is compounded by a lot of dark wood and leather in the interior. The taps were mainly from microbreweries or former micros now owned by a larger company. A number of IPAs or pale ales were available – Mad Tom, Hoptical Illusion, Cheshire Valley Galaxy – which were the first suggestions out of my servers mouth. They are doing weekend casks and so the Wellington IPA was tapped around 6:30pm. Add in Maudite and I was quite happy to see such a diverse selection, one that matches or bests many decent places downtown.
The most pleasing aspect was that our server was well versed with the beers and could talk about them. There has obviously been some staff training, which is great to see from a young establishment. The only part of the evening that was less than stellar was the food, though admittedly there weren’t many orders from our table to really test the menu. My friends both got the burgers and said they were okay. My rabbit parmigiana was just fine, but lacked the soul satisfying element that comfort food should have. It is a fairly small menu, which should help the kitchen on busy nights like Friday.
The burbs have yet to be touched in any significant way by the craft beer movement, but hopefully the Monk’s Kettle is the first sign of a change. Hopefully more of the taps will end up in the hands of Black Oak, Cheshire Valley and Great Lakes, bringing more attention to the great things happening in Etobicoke.