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Hops of Fun: 7 Stops for a Refreshing Pint of Craft Beer



Photo Credit: Amsterdam BrewHouse

In Toronto, both supply and demand have noticeably increased over the past half-decade. Though corporate beers remain predominant, most respectable establishments now serve at least a couple of options for more discerning drinkers, and connoisseurs can look to any of the bars and brewpubs recommended below for some truly memorable beer-based experiences.

1 Indie Ale House is a straightforward name for a joint that specializes in decidedly non-standard bevvies. Look for rare releases like its “Fates and Furies” series—barrel-aged beers brewed using ancient techniques.

2 Though relatively new, Bloordale’s Burdock has already established itself as a microbrewery and resto-bar to watch. Eight taps pour its “approachably experimental” offerings while the kitchen serves gourmet comfort fare.

3 Still a foodie favourite, Bar Isabel is also very well known for its craft beer list, which, among other things, has many bottles from top-tier Quebec brewers Trou du Diable and Dieu du Ciel.

4 Toronto hipsters’ beers of choice come from Bellwoods Brewery, which offers exceptional drinks—the Farmhouse saison and Witchshark IPA are both classics—in its brewpub and bottle shop.

5 Amsterdam Brewhouse is a massive Harbourfront hub—with three lakeside patios—for enjoying beers by Toronto’s oldest independent brewery. Try a flight of four beers, or see what’s new in the tanks.

6 Family-owned Bar Volo is one of the city’s more venerable spots for craft brews. Can’t decide from among the 100-plus taps and bottles? Its house line of cask-conditioned ales are always intriguing. (Volo is closing it’s Yonge Street location in September; a new location is yet to be announced.)

7 Just outside the Financial District, Beerbistro entices area hot shots with brasserie-style fare and a massive selection of everything from local lagers to trappist ales.

Chabrol: A Tiny French Bisto in the Heart of Yorkville



The buttery, unforgettable tarte aux pommes.

Chef Doug Penfold knows Spanish food. For years he’s served some of the city’s best tapas at midtown institution Cava. Turns out he’s equally passionate about French fare, as evidenced by his cooking at Chabrol, a tiny bistro Penfold launched with Cava co-owner Niall McCotter. Set back from the bustle of Yorkville Avenue, it’s an elegant hideaway for unfussy indulgence. Order and aperitif and some oysters, then spoil yourself with the rich wild mushroom and artichoke ragout—plus the chef’s acclaimed tarte aux pommes for dessert.—Craig Moy


•90 Yorkville Ave., 416-428-6641; chabrolrestaurant.com
Map and reviews

5 Best Nightlife Spots in Calgary

Best Nightlife Spots in Calgary: Bartender Trevor Smith at Wine-Ohs (Photo: Jason Dziver)

Best Nightlife Spots in Calgary: Bartender Trevor Smith at Wine-Ohs (Photo: Jason Dziver)

5. Speakeasy With Style
Just off Stephen Avenue Walk, Wine-Ohs Bistro & Cellar is downtown’s newest live-music hotspot. With loads of speakeasy cachet, its upstairs restaurant and lounge is the street-side cover for a basement that features not only cool jazz and warm blues, but bistro fare and an extensive and carefully curated wine menu.
• Wine-Ohs Bistro & Cellar 811 1 St SW, 403-263-1650, wine-ohs.com
Map and reviews


Hot Dining: Baked Goods and Brunch

How does a buttery croissant sound right about now? If your mouth is watering at the thought, then a trip to The French Baker is in order. Along with flaky croissants, this bakery is also popular for its French macarons and pains au chocolate. As if that weren’t enough, nestled in the back of the downtown location is Benny’s Bistro, with an original brunch menu of both sweet and savoury dishes (think French toast with roasted apple compote and salmon gravlax). The bistro is also open for breakfast and lunch throughout the week, and the bakeries are open daily.

ByWard Market, 119 Murrary St., 613-789-7941, and the Glebe, 801 Bank St., 613-236-7579.

Hot Dining: Black Cat Bistro

Dinner is a fun affair when you head to Black Cat Bistro in Little Italy, starting from the moment you walk in the door. The décor is both chic and cozy, making it the perfect place for a special occasion or dinner with pals. The food is colourful, prettily plated, and pulls from classic French cuisine. And if you love hamburgers, we recommend “Burger Tuesdays,” which sees the creative minds in the kitchen whipping up a different burger every week. Save room for something sweet (the unique “Rocky Road” dessert is a must). 428 Preston St., 613-569-9998.

Hot Dining: Contemporary Food and a Great Atmosphere at Absinthe

Contemporary Canadian soul food at Absinthe

What to expect from a restaurant named Absinthe? Well, five varieties of this spirit, of course (“Yes, it’s legal, and yes, it does have the real ingredients,” says general manager Thomas McVeigh). You’ll also find seasonal menus and contemporary Canadian soul food to fill your belly, such as the much-loved steak frites and the “Benevolent Burgers” ($1 from which goes to charity). Round out the experience with an extensive wine list, creative cocktails, and a relaxed ambience that lets you laugh loudly with your friends. 1208 Wellington St. W., 613-761-1138.

Hot Dining: Best New Restaurants 2011: Deseo Bistro

From tapas to chic burgers, Winnipeg’s top new restaurants serve the best bites around. Deseo Bistro tops the list. It’s been chosen one of Canada’s Top 10 New Restaurants by the editors of Where Canada. (more…)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Poached Breakfast Bistro. Photo: Penny McKinlay

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner is our series highlighting the best local restaurants across Canada. Have a tip for your city? Let us know on Twitter or on Facebook. Today we are featuring top restaurant picks in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.


Poached Breakfast Bistro shares a downtown location with late-night hangout Flint, and it’s got some really inventive and delicious brunch food that is beckoning line-ups out the door. Recommended by Saskatoon-based food blogger Penny McKinlay, this bistro serves up a few must-have dishes. (more…)

Hot Dining: Monkey See, Monkey Do

Photo: Communications Nova Scotia

Beloved by the Hali-famous, The Wooden Monkey counts local-girl-made-good Ellen Page among its legions of fans. The Grafton Street bistro gets raves for its unreserved championing of organic, macrobiotic, and locally grown flavours. The Nova Scotia Seafood Chowder is unforgettable; the Sweet Apple Salad is a unique showcase of a provincial specialty.

Hot Dining: Designer Digs

Cinq O1 (photo by Patrick Nichols)

The fact that Cinq O1 is the brainchild of Toufik Sarwa (owner of Yorkville’s popular Amber) almost guarantees it a spot on this city’s hot list. Recently opened, the restaurant already buzzes with activity well into the night, as scenesters, socialites and assorted VIPs fawn over upscale bistro-style fare—think striploin steak with frites ($36), lavender roasted chicken ($24) and a foie gras hot dog ($22)—and wines chosen by esteemed sommelier Jamie Drummond. Industrial-ornate decor by local design firm Commute Home matches the College Street spot’s eclectic clientele, with wire lampshades, a plaster-moulding accent wall and a full-size cutout of a 1960s Citroën serve as conversation starters.

May Editor’s Picks: Dining


Loire Casual Gourmet (Photo by Paul Kittmer).

The number of restaurants adhering loosely to the model of simple, affordable fare served in an attractive yet informal setting has grown exponentially in this city. Joining the fray is Loire, a self-described “casual gourmet” spot along increasingly foodie-friendly Harbord Street. With fresh, seasonal dishes that could include seared Ontario rainbow trout ($24), grilled flank steak ($25) and the beef or lamb Loire burger on challah bread ($17), the intimate resto effortlessly straddles the line between relaxed neighbourhood fave and boldface fine-dining destination. No surprise, considering the pedigree of its owners: chef Jean-Charles Dupoire last toiled for the Fairmont Royal York’s Epic, while sommelier Sylvain Brissonnet spent more than a decade at revered Langdon Hall.