I'll admit it. Until I received an email message from one of the founders of Opera Bob's Public House on Dundas east of Ossington, I hadn't ever heard of it. I don't get out to the far west as much as I'd like to, but for someone who prides themselves on trying to keep pace with the beer/pub industry in this city Opera Bob's seemed to have slipped through my fingers.
Will Kopplin, one of the three founders of the pub had emailed a couple of months ago to simply let me know how much enjoys reading my blog. A follow up email revealed that Opera Bob's is a craft beer friendly establishment and after logging off the computer I made a note to visit the pub sooner than later. One a beautiful day back in April I stopped in for a pint after work and while I sat quietly at the bar supping on a pint of Wellington County Ale I wondered how I overlooked it for so long.
Where did the name Opera Bob's come from? Kopplin informed me that one of the founders/owners is an opera singer by the name Robert Pomakov. That simple.
A nice 'L' shaped wooden bar greets you on the left when you enter which has 10 bar back chairs to accommodate those who prefer to drink at the bar. The tap handles, that pour beers from Mill Street, Steam Whistle, Wellington's, Stratford, Creemore, Flying Monkey's and Peeler cider, are directly behind the bar and sit atop a brand new Tubular Double Pedestal pass-thru tower.
Opened in 2009, Kopplin and partners decided to go the craft beer route because that's what they found themselves drinking and they recognized the upward trend the craft brewing industry is experiencing in Ontario. To compliment their focus on local beers the group introduced a new monthly feature - a guest tap that gets selected with input from staff and regulars. Startford's Pilsner was the guest tap for the month of April and Kopplin already had some thoughts about beers he could feature for the summer months.
The rest of the pub is dressed with a collection of nicknacks like beers posters, music posters, sports memorabilia, old beer bottles and trays, trinkets, pictures of regulars and more. It is nicely laid out though and doesn't appear too cluttered.
Wooden tables and chairs are weathered and worn, which is exactly what Opera Bob's wanted as it matches their weathered hardwood flooring, barn-board paneling, and the rustic wooden leather clad bench seating. It does have a feel of a modern day saloon without the mess of spittoons littering the ground.
Kopplin states that Opera Bob's is a real local pub. A lot of regulars live nearby or work nearby and have pointed out to him that having craft beer has helped attract the younger crowd. The regulars, Kopplin says, "have made friends with the staff," which I get to witness as a male joins us at the bar and a pint of Mill Street Cobblestone is poured without hesitation or any asking. The staff know their clientele..... and their beer.
Every so often Kopplin and the rest of the partners bring in a brewer or a brewery representative to do tastings with the staff and any regular who may be present. Joel Manning, Mill Street's Brewmaster, has paid visits to the pub to tell staff who to appreciate the different brands on tap and who they go with different kinds of food. Kopplin believes these educational session are not only good for the staff, but for him as well (always encouraging to hear from a publican).
I didn't stick around for any food but I've been told that Opera Bob's have a good selection of pizza's that are prepared in house. They also have a good selection of sandwiches, a pub staple. You'll find live music, sporting events on the two televisions, trivia nights, and drink specials throughout the week. In the warmer months Opera Bob's has a clear garage door that opens up to a small street side patio that attracts sun seeking drinkers.
Good pub with good beer for the adventurous and the beginner.
Opera Bob's Public House
1112 Dundas St. West (1 block east of Ossington)
Hours - 5pm to 2am daily