My fiancee has been locked away in our apartment for the last couple of days preparing for her final exams, which means I have to find things to do to keep myself occupied, so to the pub it was.
Saturday was a beautiful day to hop on a streetcar and head off to an unknown destinations, hoping a good pub would greet me upon my arrival. To the best of my recollection, I had never set foot on a Dundas streetcar since moving to Toronto, so once I got to Dundas Square, the decision was an easy one.
As I was checking out the sites from my window seat, a thought occurred to me: Why not track down The Local Pub on Roncesvalles Avenue and have a pint of locally crafted beer? I had been to the Local on one other occasion, but it was for business, so that didn't count. And besides, it was a big snow storm that night and I couldn't exactly remember how I got there.
The streetcar went through little China, by the ROM, and through little Portugal, and 40 minutes later we finally arrived to a part of Toronto I had never seen in the daylight before.
It was a only a short walk south on Roncesvalles to get me to the front door, which is great if I was to stay late into the night. I love the pubs that are situated close to public transit. The facade of the Local Pub looks like a house from a fairy tale; cozy, small, quaint, and inviting. There is a large over-hanging sign signaling pedestrians towards the pub and the two large windows on either side of the front door allow passerby's to gaze in and see what's taking place inside.
I am greeted at the front door by Heather, a long time employee of the Local who apologizes for not being ready for opening. It is 4:15pm and the pub was supposed to open at 4pm, but usually Saturdays see the doors open closer to 4:30pm. Not to worry, she ushers me to the bar where she allows me to wait for a pint. Pretty soon people start filing in, taking up multiple tables and ordering drinks. It would appear that the local residents of the area are aware of the opening times and are eager to start their Saturday evening at, well, their local.
I glanced towards the taps to see the draught line-up; all local craft breweries with the exception of Guinness and Magners, and I let Heather pick one for me. She grabs me a pint of Cameron's Auburn Ale, which is poured into the appropriate Cameron's glass (good start) with a nice protection of thick foam that gives way to a nice lacing (clean glass - fresh beer + 2). So what else is on tap? Local Lager (produced by Great Lakes for the pub), Great Lakes Devil's Pale Ale 666, Great Lakes Green Tea Ale, Stratford Pilsner, Wellington County & Wellington Pale Ale, F&M Stonehammer Dark, Cameron's Cream (and Auburn), Amsterdam's KLB Raspberry Wheat, Amsterdam Blonde, Guinness, and Magners. With tax, at $7.75 a pint, the price is a little steep, but it was gladly paid as the beer was top notch.
As I mentioned, the place is filling up and it's yet to hit 5pm. Heather mentions to another customer that it is normally busier than this at this time, but she anticipates things are going to pick up soon, once the sun starts to set. The crowd that is present is pretty diverse. Some young artist looking types are off in one corner by the front windows, while a couple of elderly ladies hold up the bar with a couple of drinks. Heather says that the Local's atmosphere, along with their dedication to serving beer from craft breweries, attracts customers from all age brackets and is home to numerous regulars.
The front area of the pub hosts 8 tables, 4 on each side that is separated by a vacant walk way towards the bar. All tables come with bench seating and comfortable looking kitchen tables chairs straight from the 1970's. The bar is situated in the middle of the room, on the right side, and separates the front from the back, where there are more tables (booths) that are in front of the makeshift stage. The right side of the pub features an exposed brick wall and is lined with local art that is for sale. The left side also features art, but also some beer signage from local breweries. There is some artifacts hanging on the walls too, like the musical instruments and some funky art deco pieces. There are also strings of Christmas lights stretching from the front entrance to the very back, providing a little more light in the dimly lit pub. I like the size, 69 person capacity. Not to big, not to small.
The 'L' shaped bar is nicely sized and accommodates 10 bar stools for patrons to sit on. Behind the bar are a number of shelves lined with spirits, wine, and empty beer bottles, which are all clean and gleaning. There are a couple of low lying light fixtures hanging above that offer a glimmer of light, but the bar is kept bright by the use of tea lights. The bar is my favourite place to sit when I'm visiting a new pub for the first time, and I find the Local's pub a very friendly place to be, and I feel very comfortable here.
Music, well, by 5:15pm there is a three man instrumental band playing some Blue Grass (Kit Gut) music with a cello, banjo, fiddle, and guitar. I love it. Music is a big thing at the Local as musicians entertain 6 nights a week, and there is never any cover charge. Friday nights feature the 'war of the ipods' where the bar staff face off, playing music from their ipods. There is also no tv present in the place, which as you know, I like. And when there is no music, customers can entertain themselves by playing any number of board games that the Local have on hand for heated contests. Games in the pub, I think I've only seen this in three other Toronto establishments (if you know others, please let me know).
The Local Pub is a terrific place in the west end of Toronto that has been filling pint glasses for four years now. It seems to jump all over the place in terms of category - modern pub, traditional, or Canadiana, yet they got it right when they named it the Local, which is what it is all about. As I throw my glasses on and head back out into the sun, I think to myself - I wish that this was a pub closer to home.
The Local Pub
396 Roncesvalles Avenue
Open seven days a week: 4pm - 2am