Years ago, Lakeshore West had a very wild west reputation. It was populated with a string of sleazy motels fronting on beautiful Lake Ontario. This place was located on the western fringe of Toronto and it appealed to those on the fringe of society – hookers, gamblers, hustlers – and those were the pillars of this society.
Well, all these motels are gone, replaced by a glass and steel forest of condo towers. Fronting on the lake or set back from the lake.
From the ashes of these sketchy motels, a vibrant condo community has risen. Composing of seniors who have sold their Etobicoke homes North of the Queensway; young families with a kid or two in tow; swinging singles, young professionals, aggressive entrepreneurs, hustling real estate agents, hot PR folk, divorced middle-aged men and women reinventing themselves and of course, the odd escort or twenty, reflecting Lakeshore West’s storied past.
The Firkin group of pubs owns and operates over 30 British style pubs in the Greater Toronto area, in the suburbs of Mississauga and even farther afield in Cambridge, the Kitchener Waterloo area and in Aurora, Whitby and Pickering.
The Firkin group’s newest pub is on the main floor of these new condos overlooking Humber Bay on Marine Bay Drive (south of the Queensway, Lakeshore Road, east of Islington/Park Lawn area). This pub is simply spectacular.
Spacious, modern, warm, friendly and architecturally, very cool.
The architecture can best be described as clean, modern, chic industrial. Very open and reminiscent of The London Tube – aspirational, without the grime, heat, graffiti and hundreds of commuters crammed cheek to jowl. Note: the London Tube-like sign, Firkin on the Bay.
The main dining room soars over 30 feet upwards. One wall, overlooking the Humber Bay contains gorgeous floor to ceiling windows. At night, from your booth, you can see not only the lake, but across the lake, the iconic CN Tower and the sparkling Toronto skyline.
Look up at the ceiling and you see piping, smartly silver encased as if an exhibit in the Art Gallery of Toronto. The artwork is of course British inspired. Larger than life colourful lithographs of Winston Churchill, English Bulldogs and my favourite, the incomparable Jimi Hendrix, intensely hanging out in Marylebone in the heart of London.
The main foyer soars majestically two stories, easily 40 feet. Also, huge floor-to-ceiling windows. The L-shaped bar faces flat screens and colourful piping representing the major London subway routes – Bakerloo, Central, Piccadilly and Jubilee, to name a few.
There is a private party area on the second floor accessed by a staircase with a brilliant life-like mural of the Minister of Silly Walks, John Cleese of Monty Python fame.
The food is generally excellent. It is pub food: tasty, fun, plentiful and very good value. The three fellows next to me chowed down on hot and spicy chicken wings with a side mountain of crispy fries. They were impressed with the size of the chicken wings and the fries. Another couple had the lamb burger and chicken fingers – also engulfed by freshly cut fries. Another table of two couples had more traditional British pub fare – fish and chips and Shepherd’s pie, Firkin’s specialties. All signaled their approval.
The group at my table also went the traditional British pub route. You know, when in Rome!
We shared the following: Three Little Yorkies. No, they were not British hot dogs but instead consisted of three mini Yorkshire puddings, stuffed with pot roast, mashed potatoes and smothered in Guinness gravy. Delicious, filling, fattening, great comfort food. I chose and enjoyed the Ploughman’s Lunch – aged, white cheddar, Danish blue cheese, a hard-boiled egg, gherkins, kalamata olives, a Ciabatta bun and a Branston pickle.
This Firkin, as in all of the Firkins I have experienced, is known for its wide and varied selection of brewskis. One of the most popular beers is Butler’s Brew, a light refreshing lager, brewed exclusively for Firkin by Molsons.
Other popular brands on tap include: Barking Squirrel, Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion, and Moosehead Lager.
Cute names. Cute names. And according to my beer-drinking bro each of these brands taste so smooth and clean.
What I most loved about this place was its attentive, excellent and attentive service. Hostess Nina, a truly lovely woman. The other hostess, Suzanne, was superb as well. Our server, Daniella, was also terrific and so professional.
Daniella could not do enough for us. And she appeared to genuinely like us and she hoped that we would come back soon. What a sweetheart!
Later in the evening, another server, Stephanie helped us select the perfect late night munchies which just hit the spot prior to our departing for the night.
This Firkin bar is fast becoming the local hang out for the Toronto West condo crowd. A place where the staff know your name and a great escape from the surrounding concrete jungle and the downtown Bay Street rat race.
Kudos to general manager Bobby Schuette and his great staff. This place is a great addition to the growing and fast expanding neighbourhood. I can’t wait to return. And the outdoor patio, overlooking the lake, must be fabulous in the spring and summer.