Saturday was a great day. My fiancé and I headed to Newmarket to pick out a wedding venue and decided to make a detour on the way home stopping in Mount Albert to visit the Prince Albert Public House, a pub tucked away along the small town's main street.
Nestled just off of Hwy 48, a popular route for cottagers trying to avoid the ever maddening 400 series, the Prince Albert Public House sits among other fabulous architectural homes and is only identified by the sign spiked into the grassy front yard. Bill Perrie, fellow TAPS contributor and Canada's Pub Guy, actually profiled this beautiful pub in his 'Ontario's Best Pubs' guide and I remembered that he had mentioned it to me as a place I'd like.
The actual house that the Prince Albert is situated in dates back to 1906 and was once the home of Mount Albert's only pharmacist: Willim T. Lloyd. It was often referred to as the Lloyd house and many town folk still call it by that name to this day.
Ian Bowie, owner of the Prince Albert, made his way over to our booth to greet us and we striked up a conversation about his pub. Bowie had worked in and owned restaurants in Toronto for years before retiring to his hometown of Newmarket. It was then, 10 years ago that Bowie decided to purchase the historic building and create what would become Mount Albert's best known local drinking spot. He appears to be a very hands on owner, spending lots of time at the pub mingling with the regulars and greeting the newcomers alike.
Walking in through the side door closest to the parking lot, you'll notice the abundance of old oak wood trimming everywhere as you wait for someone to greet you. Glancing around you get the feeling your about to indulge in something special. The dining room is located to the left and features some red velvet covered booth seating and many antique wooden tables and chairs. The floor is completely covered in maroon coloured, flower patterned carpet while the walls bare cream hued wallpaper from floor to ceiling. Framed pictures of Mount Albert’s history hang undisturbed on the walls and provide customers with a brief history of the village's past. There is also a picture for the ladies as we spotted a clipping of Bowie posing as a Sunshine Boy during his younger years.
There are many large windows letting in some natural lighting and are complimented by some low lying antique light fixtures. Dimpled cherry coloured tin ceiling, what seems to be standard in British style pubs, provides even more character to the dining area which also features a couple of tables located in a sun room towards the front of the house. It would be a nice place to sit and watch the traffic go by while supping on a pint.
The small ‘L’ shaped bar is located to the right separated from the dining room by a narrow hallway leading to a flight of stairs. Glassware hangs above the bar and stenciled glass signage adds an attractive element to its basic design. There are a number of bar stools lined in uniform at the bar to go along with a number of high top tables and chairs. A television sits in the corner, two small fish tanks sit atop a small floating bar and beer signage lines the walls along with more framed pictures.
The hallway that I mentioned leads to a flight of stairs where you will find another handful of rooms primed for drinking in. To the immediate right you’ll find another room with a bar, smaller in size than the downstairs bar area with more tables and another tv. There is a snug just off the bar area that features a large screen tv for sporting matches, a bunch of books on shelving and old Toronto Maple Leafs posters all over the walls. Back out to the hallway and to the left you’ll find a games room with a jukebox. A large pool table, another tv and dart boards are the feature of this room and Bowie mentioned that weekend evenings get packed with players. The entire upstairs area is covered with dark purple carpeting along with a handful of heavy wooden doors and lots of big thick wooden trim. It almost appears that the fixtures have been around since the construction of the house, making it feel like your drinking at home.
There is also a covered patio behind the pub called “Queen’s Courtyard,” for those that appreciate patios, and it features a large painted mural of the ocean.
I hadn't looked up the Prince Albert before driving there, so I was unsure of what the beer selection would look like. I was kinda disappointed to hear the line-up when the server ran through what was on tap. Blue, Keith's, Stella, Canadian, etc...... I was surprised to hear that Church Key's Northumberland was available - sign me up. Creemore Traditional Springs Lager was also on tap, a beer that is also a life saver in pubs with a beer selection such as this. But as I've said before, as important as beer is to me, it's not everything when I'm appreciating a pub. And I can understand why it's that way as I come to the realization that smaller towns have yet to grapple the craft beer movement...just yet.
It had just turned 12:00 and I was in the mood for breakfast. Luckily the Prince Albert runs an all day breakfast menu and breakfast special it was. For $4.95 I got a large plate of 2 eggs, 3 strips of peameal bacon, potatoes and toast! For the size it was it would have been $8.95 easily in Toronto. The rest of the menu is my kind of menu - a pub menu mixed with Canadian inspired food and British flair. Bangers and mash, fish and chips, "Mom's" meatloaf, snitzel sandwiches, pot pies, pasta's, burgers and more. Nothing over the top and all reasonably priced.
The Prince Albert is a terrific pub on the outskirts of Newmarket that offers so much atmosphere, while providing a wonderfully comforting environment. I wish I had had more time to learn a little more about the actual house itself, but I walked away with a deep love for what’s inside it. A true local pub, Bowie has accomplished the mission he set out on 10 years ago. It’s worth a trip to Mount Albert.
I forgot my camera on this day. Thanks to Prince Albert for letting me borrow your pictures.