Last night I met up with a friend of mine that I haven't seen in almost a year and decided to head down Queen Street East to have a couple of pints at the Lion on the Beach. The pub was highly recommended by a reader of this blog so I felt it was my duty to visit and comment on it. I have heard that it is a busy spot in the summer with tourists coming up from the beach to have a couple cold ones on the two patios on each side of the building.
As we entered through the Queen Street entrance, we came upon the bar to our left. We decided this would be the best place to sit and get some information about the place. Fortunately for us, Glen, a regular, was sitting beside us having a beer after work and he helped detail the history surrounding the pub.
Glen estimates that the actually building dates back to the early 1900’s and was once the home of a Dominion Bank of Canada. He also mentioned that the Lion on the Beach has occupied the building for 14 years serving the local residents of the Beaches area. He claims that he has been a regular customer for the past seven to eight years, meeting friends after work to share some stories. This was a good start to the visit as there is no better person to talk to about a pub than the people who visit religiously.
The inside of the Lion on the Beach consists of wall to wall wooden beams and pillars that have been painted a dark chocolaty colour. The colour emulates a Tudor style British interior that stays within the theme of the pub. The floor is covered with dark carpeting throughout the place and the walls are graced with random local photos from past to present. Glen likes the different photos because they don’t all fall under the same theme and it makes you want to know more about them.
The bar itself was nicely decorated in an autumn and Halloween theme and the large mirrors behind the bar with Lion on the Beach logo’s were very attractive. The bar was dimly lit by the light glowing from a string of Christmas lights over head and small candles directly on the bar. Glassware and pitchers were hanging above the bar in racks and above them were different signs in wood describing the variety of alcoholic drinks they offer – like spirits, ports, whiskey etc. There were 15 stools surrounding the straight bar that had a slight curve at the end, which made it easy to talk to others at sitting at the bar.
The beer selection caters mostly to mainstream drinkers. The draught line-up consists of Bud, Bud Light, Keith’s, Keith’s Red, Carlsberg, Creemore, Guinness, Boddingtons, Bass, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Stiegl. The bottled beer is made up of Canadian, Blue, Bud, Molson Export, Blue Light, Coors, Sleeman Ale, Moosehead, MGD, Steam Whistle, Corona, Cider and Heineken. I find it harder to choose from a list like this than one that is extensive and unique. I have had them all before and they are all unassuming, but craft beer is not everything when visiting a pub. What the Lion on the Beach lacked in quality craft beer they made up for it in atmosphere and hospitality.
I noticed two dart boards by the front of the pub and Glen confirmed that you can indeed play darts by asking the bar staff. We almost got into a game but we had to get going. I feel that I will be back to challenge Glen one day.
The music was not for me as I feel pop music is not condusive with my thoughts on pub atmosphere. Black Eyed Peas, Kanye West, Justin Timberlake and Madonna are all great for a nightclub, but not a pub that mainly caters to an older crowd. But there is live music on the weekends.
Overall it was a nice visit and many thanks go out to Glen for providing all the tidbits. My friend had a clubhouse and soup for $8.95 that he claimed was delicious and economical for the portion he received. Glen sums it up, “It is a nice environment to come after work with my buddies to have a beer in great a pub.”
1958 Queen Street East
Toronto, ON 416.690.1984