I rarely venture out of my neighbourhood or the downtown core just to go to a gastro pub. I mean, pubs are places of convenience. They’re the places I would resort to going on a casual Friday night with friends or as my happy hour destination for a pint or two.
This time I decided to do something different. I never thought of Cabbagetown as a trendy food destination in Toronto, but The Irv Gastro Pub was an exception and a must-try in my hungry books.
Having recently opened its doors on March 1, 2014, The Irv Gastro Pub provides a modern spin on classic pub fare. The interior is dressed up in a contemporary manner, while the space still plays true to the comfort and intimacy of a neighbourhood bar. When you walk in, you’ll see a wall of whisky and scotch beaming like trophies in a room of bar top tables and bar stools perfect for a pint over an epic game (insert Leafs / Raptors joke here). A walk further inside the space takes you into a separate dining room with lower tables with the same laid-back atmosphere.
We were instantly welcomed by the owners as we walked in (and might have intruded on their lunch break, but they happily carried on anyway). Our waitress encouraged us to pick a seat to our liking and was very friendly and knowledgeable.
Executive Chef David de Faria’s internationally inspired menu gives a myriad of fun and fresh options. How about that Truffle and Parmesan Popcorn? Or the Cheddar and Beer Stuffed Chicken? Boy, it can leave you salivating even before you place your order.
Luckily their glorious selection of craft beer and creative cocktails will quench your thirst at the very least. The Irv carries more than 10 brews on tap, including 3 rotating and 1 cask beer – with their latest addition of King Brewery. This will keep the beer lovers coming back for more. *Hint* some of their dishes are made with their special Wellington brew.
The Cheddar mac & pulled pork waffle cone pays homage to classic pub food all in one sweet waffle cone that – I must warn you – requires help from your reliable friend Mr. Fork and might leave you wishing you had a bib. Sprinkled with fresh green onions, this wonderment takes you on a journey through cooling coleslaw to juicy pulled pork met by a tidal wave of creamy cheddar sauce blended into smooth al dente pasta. Then it’s a mad dash to the bottom of the cone which has what is left of the Wellington SPA BBQ sauce.
The Irv Burger hits the spot with its 8oz ground ribeye and beef tenderloin patty topped with lettuce, tomato, red onion and pickle. Order it with a side of fries or garden salad. You can even take it up a notch by adding a fried egg for $2.00, or bacon or aged cheddar for $1.50.
One of the more popular menu items, Lobster Mac N’ Cheese Sliders are an oozing hot medley of – you guessed it – mac n’ cheese caked in a deep fried batter topped with sweet chili aoili, sandwiched between smooth brioche buns. The ratio of lobster is pea-sized in comparison to the rest of the ingredients. Nevertheless, a creative rendition of my favourite comfort food reminiscent of my university dorm days.
The Irv Gastro Pub is a refreshing addition to the gastro pub scene in Toronto and it gives us a good reason to show the East End some love. Come spring and summer time, they'll be opening their 2 patios that will seat plenty of those looking to soak up the sun over a local pint and fresh eats.
I'll be back for their Halibut N' Chips.