Beer Bistro (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 18 King Street East
Type of Meal: Lunch

Beer Bistro, located in Toronto’s Financial District, is a great option if you’re looking for a  reasonably priced menu, good food and efficient service.  Although their signage isn’t very prominent, those who live and work in the area certainly know about it judging by their busy lunch services and even busier after work drinks crowd.

Having been on numerous occasions, what keeps me going back are their fries and mussels. Sure, I’ve tried other things on their menu (pizza and various small plates that they change on occasion) but nothing is as memorable as their fries and mussels.

The Belgian frites ($6) arrive in a large cone with a light Dijon mayonnaise and smoked ketchup. Almost every table in the restaurant orders them (especially after seeing them walk by in all their glory) and are perfect for sharing amongst a table of 3+ individuals. Of course being cooked in beef and duck fat makes them delicious, but being served piping hot and fresh to order certainly helps. Just eat them quick, otherwise the ones on the bottom get steamed and become soggy (although still not bad and edible).

Their menu offers five flavours of mussels, but the one I continuously order is the Spicy Red Thai ($18). It’s a simple tomato and beer broth (Maudite), but then is spiked with lemongrass, coconut milk, chili, lime leaves and cilantro to give it spice and richness. There is just enough heat in it so you really taste it, but still doesn’t overwhelm the mussels.

But, what impresses me the most is how they serve the mussels.  The pot it arrives in has a mesh net so that once you remove the mussels in the net, it allows you to easily dip your bread and soak up the delicious cooking liquids (each dish arrives with a crusty soft sourdough the size of a large Kaiser bun). After all, the mussels are good, but what I really like most is dipping fresh bread into the hot fragrant broth.

Additionally, the staff will bring out three bowls with each order.  As empty shells are discarded into the bowls, staff members will come around to whisk away the top bowl so you’re never trying to balance empty shells on top of an overflowing pile. This is but a small example of how Beer Bistro has perfected its service to ensure the meal is efficient and all a diner’s needs are met. Our waitress was friendly and attentive allowing our meal to be ordered and paid for within an hour – great if you’re looking for a quick weekday lunch.

So, if you’re ever in the mood for mussels and frites, Beer Bistro is one of my top choices. Now if only I can smuggle one of these ingenious mussel pots out one day…

Overall mark - 8.5 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!