Eating Edmonton: Craft Beer Market

Eating Edmonton: Craft Beer Market

It’s hard not to love all of the places opening up in Edmonton that specialize in good food and good beer. Because, food and beer are some of my favorite things in the world.

It took me a lot longer to get out to Craft than I would have expected, especially with its convenient downtown location, right across the street from the Sherlock Holmes pub. Well, it is convenient if you actually manage to get parking downtown without having to pay and arm and a leg for it. But this is less of a problem in the evening, once the workday crowd has mostly dispersed. Still, don’t expect to get one of the very few spots right across from Craft. Plan to walk a few blocks.

craft2First off, the space that Craft has is incredible. It is very large, two floors, and has recently opened their rooftop patio for the summer months. The space is very open, spacious, and tastefully decorated. It has the feeling of a beer hall, but classier, not unlike other establishments of this ilk.

The staff are pretty quick, friendly, and attentive, and you are greeted warmly upon entering the building. There are various table sizes, which is a nice option depending on the size of your group, with tables and booths aplenty.

One of the most impressive things about the place is the kegs of beer everywhere. If you accidentally wander down the wrong staircase trying to find the washroom, as I did, you will get to the basement level that includes a room with hundreds upon hundreds of kegs of beer in it. Momentarily, I believed it to be heaven. You can also see the beer on the main and upper floor, as it is contained in glass rooms, similar to how it is in Beer Revolution in Oliver Square.

The food at Craft is good. As is expected now, they have a full and interesting menu of what I call Pub Grub+. Typical fare for this kind of place, but it is really tasty, and not simply sloppy chicken wings. It actually took our group a while to decide on what to eat, because there was definitely more than one enticing option. Pretty much every appetizer sounded delicious. But we had to restrain ourselves.

As for the beer selection, well, it is probably second-to-none in Edmonton. I believe there are over 100 beers on tap, and they are changed regularly. This is awesome. It can be difficult to navigate the beer menu, simply because there are just so many to choose from, and it can become quite overwhelming, if you don’t really know what you want. The servers are very knowledgeable about what they serve, so don’t hesitate to ask about a certain beer, or describe what you are looking for. They will be able to help you out with that, which is always nice.

Because of its food and drink, Craft would seem like a place that could become a home away from home for me. But for one thing: the prices.

I get it. Craft beer is all the rage. Pub Grub+ food is all the rage. And you can expect to pay for quality. I don’t mind paying for quality.

But Craft Beer Market has priced itself out for me. This cannot be a place where my friends and I hang out for an evening and sample different beers. I would go broke, especially when the majority of beers at Craft are over $9.

$9!!

While the food prices are only slightly above average in comparable pubs, it is the drinks that will absolutely destroy your bank account. This makes Craft a perfect place to come after work for a meal and a beer, but little more than that. Sadly, I am not a one beer type of person, and the price just adds up far too quickly for me. It would be great to be able to spend some time there, and sample a lot of the different beers that they have to offer, since it is such an amazing selection, but I don’t feel like selling my car just yet. I feel that the high prices are actually a detriment to the sampling of new beers, simply because I am nervous about spending $9.25 on something I have never tried before. If it isn’t very good, then that is a large waste of money, when I could have just been smarter, and gone for the $8.25 Sapporo that I know is good.

Me complaining about it won’t change the prices, and from what I’ve heard, Craft has been very successful since its opening in Edmonton, which is great. It continues to be nice to see downtown being revitalized with new places all the time, creating a place that is good for the older crowd that has mostly tired of Whyte Ave.

Craft is great, if you have the money.

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At the Ballpark: Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)

At the Ballpark: Fenway Park (Boston Red Sox)

For baseball diamonds, Fenway Park was always the ultimate destination. It was the one place I had to see games, no matter what. It was a bucket list item. Fenway is home to the Boston Red Sox, my favorite baseball team, the team I have cheered with for years, being fortunate enough to watch them through three glorious World Series runs.

And it did not disappoint.

On the streets of Boston, Fenway is nestled in there, almost unnoticeable until you are standing right in front of it. It is not a gargantuan behemoth of engineering placed far away from the city, surrounded by parking lots and a couple of bars. It is right in the heart of it all, lined by the famous Yawkey Way and Lansdowne Street, which is chock full of bars and restaurants, all geared towards the Red Sox crowd. From the outside, you see the green that has been made so famous by the ancient stadium (going on year 102 now).

And you simply can’t wait to get inside.

I took the ballpark tour, because, come on, this is Fenway. The tour was good, and the guide was an excellent source of knowledge, telling stories about the park and about the teams that had played there.

monsterFirst walking into the stands behind home plate, you have arrived. You stare out at the field, you look at the Green Monster in left field. You see Pesky’s Pole out in right, the famous scoreboard on the Monster, the current AL East standings, the signs for W.B. Mason. It is all so iconic, and it takes a moment to stand there, take it all in, take your pictures.

The tour was good, taking us to some of the most memorable and historic parts of the park. The ancient stands, the bleachers and the lonely red seat (which denotes the longest home run hit inside Fenway, by none other than Ted Williams), the press box, the outdoor patio high above left field, the Red Sox museum, and of course, the seats on top of the Green Monster, which have become the most coveted tickets in all of baseball.

The only disappointing thing about the tour was that we didn’t go to the locker rooms, or onto the field. This is understandable, as it was the day before Opening Day, but still…to stand on the shale of Fenway would have been something incredible. For $17, the tour was a good way to spend a little over an our, in the baseball cathedral that is this park.

My initial impression, walking up that ramp to see the field for the first time, was that this park is small! Fenway is intimate, and this only adds to the lustre of the place. It is not a mega-stadium that sits fifty-some-thousand. It is a small place, where fans gather to cheer for their beloved Sox. The beautiful thing about the smallness of the park, is that there is not a bad seat in the house. Wherever you are, even though it may seem like miles away from home plate, you still get a really strong view of the game. That is, of course, unless you are stuck with one of the obstructed view seats, but you would know that going into it.

 

The view from the back of the stadium.
The view from the back of the stadium. (not my photo)

The seats: I was lucky enough to be in Boston for Opening Day 2014, where the champs raised their banners and got their rings, celebrating an amazing season that culminated in an almost improbable World Series win last October. I will write a separate post on Opening Day itself, so for this one I will stick to the stadium. For Opening Day, we sat in the bleachers, section 62 (same section as the red seat), row 50 (actually the last row in the place). Tickets cost us $30 (we were lucky enough to buy them at face value before going to Boston, on StubHub before the game, those seats were going for close to $200- Opening Day!). Despite being as far from home plate as possible in right field, the seats were still great, and this speaks to how intimate the stadium is. There was a good view of the action on the field, and although you can’t call balls and strikes from that far away, it is still pretty awesome. You can soak in all the views from the bleachers, watch as balls ring off the Monster, and see the plays made in the infield with amazing clarity.

The seats, for being the bleachers, were pretty comfortable, and you are never too far from a beer stand, concession, or washroom. There is definitely a passionate fan base that sits in the bleachers, which gives the game more personality than it already has. I have never been to a sporting event where the fans are as knowledgeable as they were in Boston. They love baseball, and they LOVE baseball. It was amazing. No fair weather, just checking out a game because it sounds fun crowd here. The people of Boston live and breathe the Red Sox. I loved this.

Fenway_Park05The Monster: For the second home game of the season, of course we needed to sit on the Monster. This was a life goal, and both of us were pretty giddy to actually be able to get seats. Since we hadn’t initially planned on a second game, this one was more last minute. We paid $90 for standing room tickets on the Monster, for a night game on Saturday night. Even before getting there, we knew it would be worth it. And we were not disappointed.

There is no better place to watch a game than from the Monster seats. Standing room, while it sounds like a massive inconvenience, was actually kind of perfect. It gives you the chance to move around (which was great, considering it was bone chillingly cold that night). There are under 300 seats and standing spots on the Monster, so it is like a little community up there. There are two concessions just for the Monster people, with beers and Monster dogs (definitely better than the Fenway Franks!), and very close access to a bathroom. For those going for standing room, get there earlier than you normally might, claim your spot, and enjoy. Plus, if you are on the Monster, you really need to get there for batting practice, as the odds of snagging a home run ball are pretty good. All standing room seats are lined up against a bar, where you can lean, and rest your food and drinks. It makes the whole standing thing much more comfortable, as you don’t have to stand awkwardly in one position for hours at a time.

On the Monster, there were some of the nicest, and well-educated, fans I had been around. We made friends with all of the people in our standing section, and looked out for one another by saving spots when they would have to go to the washroom, top up a beer, or need to walk to warm up. Out little piece of the Monster was a nice one, and the great people made this one of the most fun ball games I have ever been to.

The views from on top of the most famous wall in baseball are incredible. In the crisp, cool night of April baseball, under the lights of Fenway, you see it all. You are on top of the action, and even closer to it than I would have thought. You look down at the left fielder, you see the pitches clearly (which makes yelling at the umps easier), and you are literally on top of the action.

If you are planning on going to Fenway as a vacation, see a game from the Monster. Despite the steeper prices, you will not regret it. Apparently standing room tickets are normally about $60, which is well worth it. Plus, as it was freezing cold, and the game ended up going in to extra innings, we ended up with Monster seats for about half the game, as some who were not as prepared for the temperatures ended up leaving early. Since it was so frosty, we still ended up standing, but we had moved closer to the famed edge of the Monster, and it was glorious. Plus, it gave us the chance to sit if our legs were feeling tired.

Prices: It is not cheap to go to Fenway. But I’m sure there isn’t anybody out there who are hoping for a cheap night out by going there. Beers cost nearly $9 for a can, a Fenway Frank is $5 (they are not large), and a Monster Dog is $9 (but good!). The service is fast and friendly.

champsAtmosphere: Simply put, there is no better place to watch baseball than at Fenway Park. Period.

The combination of the team, the city, the fans, the knowledge, the history, and the ballpark all make Fenway THE place to see a game.

The surrounding area: Is there more famous streets that surround a ballpark? Yawkey Way is the place to be on game day. The bars are lined up around the block, and the street is jammed full of people, elbow-to-elbow. There is a buzz there that is unprecedented in my experience. I can’t even imagine it during the playoffs. There are plenty of options for food and drink before and after the game. Either get there early (most places were open at 8:30 AM for Opening Day), or be prepared to wait in line for a decent amount of time. It is cool, because everybody is there for the same reason: because they love baseball, and they love the Red Sox.

Final Comments: Having the opportunity to fly across the country to watch baseball is one that I am grateful for. Seeing a game at Fenway really was a dream come true, and getting to see two was just adding to the perfection. Leaving the park after the end of the 11th inning on Saturday night, I simply thought to myself that I can’t wait to go back.

Eating Edmonton: The Underground

Eating Edmonton: The Underground

The idea of The Underground is awesome. Why not use a large, downtown basement space, and turn it into a bar? Sounds like a plan to me. It seems like the entrance to an LRT station, with the escalators going below the building on Jasper Ave and 100th Street.

The entrance.
The entrance.

The space is quite nice down there, with a lot more room than I had anticipated. The washrooms are very large and spacious, which is nice after a few beers. You don’t want to be elbowing your way around in there, accidentally making some new friends for the wrong reasons.

There are a few positives and some negatives about this tap house.

Some of the good:

  • The beer selection is great. There is tons to choose from, and all of their beers are on levels (like the 100-level, 200-level, etc), which seems to go in order of either price or alcohol content. Or maybe neither. But they are on levels!
  • The descriptions of the beers are very accurate. Finally, they had someone who really knows beer taste them and write about them. I was surprised at how accurate the descriptions were to the taste of the drink.
  • I tried four different beers that I had never had before, and all of them were delicious. No disappointments for me.
  • The appetizers are good. Our group shared a couple of appetizers, the vegan fritters (kind of tasted like overcooked McDonald’s hash browns- meaning they were good) and the bacon-wrapped scallops (you could wrap anything in bacon and they would be good- these were particularly tasty, and it came with a pretty good slaw). The fritters cost about $12, as did the scallops (for 4 of them).
  • The main course is something a little different. I had a chicken apple sandwich. Pretty good, and fresh tasting. I got it without guacamole, because I hate it, but that would have added more flavour. The chicken itself was average, there wasn’t much done to it that would be different anywhere else, but overall, it was a tasty sandwich. Also, the fries were really good.
  • The clientele. Not as hipster as I would have thought. Usually, the newer downtown bars have become hipster central in Edmonton, but this place was pretty good. A nice place for the 25-35 crowd to go to.
  • Space between tables. I really don’t like it when they are all packed together, and you have to dodge chairs and arms to move anywhere.
  • The music. While there were a couple of times when it veered to a techno vibe that was not needed, the majority of the songs played were a nice collection of 90’s hits, which is perfect for the age group of the patrons. No force feeding of amped up pop hits here, which is nice.

undergroundroomSome of the bad:

  • Parking. Being right on Jasper, options are limited. The cheapest place is to park in the confusing, and busy, library garage. It was $5 on the weekend after 5PM. I hate paying for parking, any time, any where, so I found this inconvenient. The only other places are an impark lot nearby. There really is no street parking that is close.
  • The cost. I found The Underground to be very expensive. My evening cost me close to $100, which for a sandwich, split appetizers and a few beers, is too much for this guy. I found that there were lots of beers I would have tried out, but the cost slowed me down. I find it hard to justify paying $9 for a pint. No matter how good the beer is. The “cheaper” options will run you about $7 a pop, which is a little better, but then you are getting smaller pints. I get it, that this is the craze for these craft-style beer places. I knew the prices going in, but was still surprised at how much I ended up spending.
  • It’s hot in there. Being underground, with no windows, it definitely heated up to nearly uncomfortable levels by the end of the evening, when the bar was full. I hope they have a solid A/C system for the summer months.
  • The decor was nice, but I think with that space, it could have been a lot cooler, and they could have played up the whole “underground” thing. I am no interior decorator, and they made a nice looking bar down there, but I feel it could have been taken further.

Overall, a cool place to hang out for the evening. I would definitely go back, although the prices are prohibitive for me. It would be a place to go for a quick pint and a little bit to eat. Not the kind of place I can afford to spend an entire evening in again, however. For those who have a little better cash flow than myself, The Underground is a good place for eats and drinks.

At the Ballpark: Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners)

At the Ballpark: Safeco Field (Seattle Mariners)

Seattle is one of my favorite US cities, and Safeco Field has become one of my favorite big league ballparks. Part of this may because of the proximity of the stadium to me (or relative proximity, I suppose). The Mariners are my defacto home team, since it is only about a 14-hour drive to get from my house to their stadium. Like I said, the proximity is relative. Since Seattle is closer than other major league cities, I have been to more Mariner games than any others across baseball. This is not to say I am a season ticket holder, by any stretch of the imagination, but I have been to four games there, which defeats any other stadium in my travel history.

Safeco_Field_nightSafeco is a great place, a great stadium. Nestled in downtown, you can look out into the outfield, and see the incredibly impressive Seahawks Stadium, just across the way. Two have two amazing, modern, and quality stadiums right next to each other, right on the waterfront, and close to everything in town, is truly a great demonstration of city planning. Around Safeco, you are around the center of the action, and most of the highlights of the city are within walking distance of here.

The stadium itself is proof that all of these modern stadiums will offer the best of the best, in order to draw in the best crowds they can 81 times per year. Granted, the Mariners haven’t exactly provided the most stellar on-field lineups in recent years, but now with stars like Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano, the team should improve, as should the average crowd.

Ticket prices in Seattle are great, where $40 can get you incredible first or third base seats, only a few rows up from the dugouts. And, since the team has struggled in recent years, it is always easy to get tickets. Of course, you should plan ahead, but walking up to the gates before a game and getting seats is never a major issue. Great seats seem to always be there for any game.

The amenities in the stadium are solid as well. There are tons of food options, perhaps the best variety I have seen in a ballpark. You can get everything from your unhealthy doses of hot dogs and beers, to pretty damn good sushi, or seafood. Who knew a lobster sandwich from a baseball stadium would actually be really good? And affordable, as far as stadium costs go.

safecoCertain sections in Safeco are where you can be catered, and feel extra lazy. For one of my games there, we were in these seats, below the overhand of the upper deck, where there are waitresses that will bring you all your food and drink needs. The menu items cost a little more than walking up to the lines yourself, but sometimes you want a beer and don’t want to miss any of the game. In these instances, I will pay the extra buck or two to have somebody get it for me and bring it to my seat. Another bonus of this service is that you are able to pay for your items with a credit card, and save your cash for something else. A small bonus, but something that I liked about it.

Seattle, being a city known for rain, of course has a stadium with a retractable roof. I find that many stadiums that are indoors lose all of their appeal and baseball traditionalism, but at Safeco, when the roof is closed, it still feels like you are at an outdoor ballgame. The stadium is still open and airy, and you never get that feeling that you are closed in to watch the event. For baseball, I want to be outside, to feel the slight chill of the summer night air. It didn’t feel to me as though this was an issue with a closed roof in Seattle, something I give the stadium creators a lot of credit for.

The fans in Seattle are some of the best in baseball, that I have experienced. The general person is knowledgeable about the game, and very friendly. People respect that you have traveled a long way to see their team, and even in the down times, they still love their Mariners.

I had the chance to witness a couple of cool games there, including one of the legendary Ichiro’s final games as a Mariner, before moving on to the evil Yankees, and a 2-hit shutout gem of a game thrown by Hernandez, one of the best pitchers in the game.

The last time I was at Safeco, at the conclusion of the 6th inning, a man left his prime seats in the first row behind the Texas Rangers dugout, and gave us his tickets. He said that he had to leave, and he wanted us to have them. Gladly accepting, we were able to watch the rest of the game with our beers sitting on the Rangers dugout, a mere couple of feet away from their players. We got to watch the game as the Rangers were throwing sunflower seeds at Yu Darvish, their (at the time) rookie pitcher acquisition from Japan. It was a truly awesome ballpark experience, and one that speaks to the generosity of Mariner fans. It was a perfect conclusion to our couple of days at the park there.

Safeco Field is a secret gem in baseball. The Mariners may not get the media attention of the mega-market teams, but quietly they have created one of the most positive baseball viewing experiences in the league.

I know that I will be back to Safeco in the future. Because it is closer, and because it is great.

Eating Edmonton: The Rock Wood Fired Pizza

Classic rock. And pizza.

Sold.

rockA new location on 137th Ave in Edmonton offers up a cool decor, good music, excellent pizza and some really good micro brews. The interior of the bar area is cave-like, with all exposed brick and dim lighting, highlighted by the massive neon signs promoting the various beers the place has to offer. Graffiti on the walls and a reasonable amount of seating (they probably should have gone with smaller tables to get more parties of people in, but that’s a small gripe) makes the place a cool one to hang out in. It avoids the cheesiness of something similar, like a Hard Rock Cafe.

The main draw here is the wood fired pizza. And it is worth the hype. We tried out two kinds, the perfectly seasoned and not-too-spicy Crazy Train and the sweeter and cheesier Founders Pie. Both were absolutely delicious (and tasted great as cold leftovers the next day, as well, something that is very important with pizza). At about $20 for a medium pie, the prices are reasonable, and good when considering the quality and comparable pizzas out there.

TheRock_Food_FramedThe beer was really good as well. Both of us were drinking the Suicide Blonde beer, a lightly coloured and tasty brew. I would definitely go back for more of it. The prices on drinks were reasonable as well, at just under $4 for a 16 oz beer. There is also the option to go for the 22 oz for a little more than a dollar more. Next time I go, it will be tempting to try out their beer sampler, to test out the different beers they have to offer.

At a newer place, often it seems like they would be disorganized or poorly trained, but that isn’t the case at The Rock. The waitresses were quick, attentive, friendly, and cute. Not much more to ask for, is there?

Overall, this place is one to head back to. The food is outstanding, and it is nice to be somewhere where you don’t have to listen to annoying pop songs. Give me Zeppelin, Sabbath, and Clapton any day of the week.

Eating Edmonton: Ale Yard Tap & Grill

The Ale Yard has some good things about it, and some that make it seem as though this place is doomed to failure, as was its location predecessor, Don Cherry’s. While this pub and grub spot seems to have an ideal location, at 13310 137th Ave in Edmonton, it really isn’t. It is on a main drag, and it really isn’t that close to a large residential population, which makes it more of a place to stop on the way home for a pint and a bite, instead of a place where you will spend the whole evening. Now, this does afford it some charms, such as it really is never that busy, allowing for fast and friendly service from a great wait staff (they really are awesome, and they take the time to know their regulars. Even new waitresses will come and introduce themselves if you are recognized as a frequent visitor), but it lacks the party atmosphere of a more Whyte Ave type of pub, if that’s what you’re looking for.

ale yardThe food at Ale Yard is as typically pub grub as you can imagine. The food is standard, and tastes like you would expect. It is no different from anywhere else in the city. However, they do have some of the best french fries, and for some reason, the chicken fingers from their appetizer menu are particularly delicious. Also, they have solid chicken wings, with some inventive flavors that are actually pretty good. These include tandori chicken, and butter chicken. Doesn’t seem right, but they are pretty damn good. Aside from that, you won’t find anything new here. You get what you pay for, and you get what you expect.

The drink menu is a strong point for the bar, one that I feel needs to be built up more. They have a great selection of beers, ranging from your standards, to a decent import list, to a strong selection of local “Premium” beers. The prices are fairly normal, but it is best on a Thursday, where half-pints are only $2. Otherwise it can get a little silly paying $6.75 for a pint of Keiths.

ale-yard-tab-and-grillIt seems apparent that the Ale Yard is too big of a place for its operation. I feel it would be better served if it were cut in half, and they avoided some trappings of the neighborhood bar, like karaoke night. Dump it. It doesn’t get the crowd any bigger, and when looking for a calm pub, it kind of ruins that atmosphere. Don’t try to be a dance bar on the weekends. Just because there is loud music, it doesn’t mean that people are going to pack a dance floor. They don’t. And a dance bar is not what the area needs. Ale Yard should be focused on competing with other beer-centric places, such as Beer Revolution or Kraft. The Ale Yard really can’t decide who it is, and its identity is one of throwing many things against the wall and hoping that something sticks. For a real boost, they need to cut the size, focus on improving their food to the point where it is something different and original, and then I feel they would be a stronger draw. It is a good place to hang out, but it could be better.

I’ve checked out many of the reviews for the Ale Yard on Yelp, and notice that many of them are negative. And even though this is a place I like, I can’t disagree with them. Although I have always received great service, to the point where some waitresses know my friends and I by name and will often sit for a quick chat, there are times I could see them being too slow for some customers based on how packed the place is(n’t). Many of the reviews comment on the food, which I agree with. But this is a pub. I don’t expect anything more than standard fare. And the prices are average, not the best. You just have to know to hit the deals on certain nights of the week, and it comes out being reasonable.

When it comes down to it, the Ale Yard is a good place to hang out, have a couple of beers and a snack. If you go in expecting something amazing, you may be disappointed. For a regular pub, it pretty much ticks all of the boxes.

Eating Edmonton: MKT Beer Market

I’ve been to MKT (Gateway Blvd and Whyte Ave) several times since it has opened up, and I’ve decided to do a little review of it.

Firstly, being in the old train station that once housed the Iron Horse (there’s a good throwback bar from the late 90’s and early 2000s!), you know that this is going to be a big, and cool, space. They have appointed it really nicely inside, and it looks great as soon as you walk in. Big picnic tables, some regular high table, booths, and comfy seats along the massive bar make MKT one of the more attractive pub/restaurants in Edmonton.

mktSecondly, this place is one of the best on Whyte in the summer, specifically because of their massive outdoor patio. We crave our outdoor time in this city, and MKT must have one of the biggest patios in the area. This can cause some serious wait times in the summer, mainly because nobody wants to be stuck inside when it is nice and sunny out there. I feel like with their enormous lot (I have no idea if they own it all the way to the sidewalk or not), they should expand their patio even further towards Whyte. And perhaps make use of some of the ample space along the side of the building, leading up to the main entrance.

Next, it is nice for a place along Whyte Avenue to actually have its own parking lot. This is the rarest of the rare in the popular part of Edmonton nightlife, and this is a benefit of the location. If the lot is full, there is also some street parking nearby that is free.

As for the food and drink. It is a mixed bag. The beer menu is very impressive, with long lists of beers from all over the planet. The best idea is to come on a Thursday, when it is $4 for any of their pints. I feel better about trying a new beer when I don’t have to pay $8 or more for it. Gives a chance to see what you might like, and not have to pay through the nose for it. In my visits, I have found the beer good, not flat, and the staff is generally fairly knowledgeable about their alcohol products. Meaning, they at least know what type of beer each one is, which can’t be said for every staff in the city. There are some weird things with the sizes of the beers, as sometimes you are ordering something smaller than you expected. I don’t usually pay attention to the size of the pint when I order a pint. I thought a pint was a size. But that confusion can be avoided by being a customer who actually reads the menu fully, unlike myself on many occasions.

For food, there is good and there is mediocre. It really is just pub grub, but with fancier names and higher price tags. I’m not really picky about the food I eat, but it is just okay here. The nachos are really tasty, especially when covered in pulled pork, and they are of a significant portion size. The burgers are decent, but nothing really makes them stand out. The burger you will have at MKT is essentially the same burger you will have at any other bar in the city. I really didn’t like the soft pretzels, and found the dipping sauces to be quite contrary to what my palate would ever like to try again (my opinion, of course). When I go to MKT, I will typically go after eating, maybe only getting a small snack or appetizer item to tide me over through a few beers.

I’ve read quite a few negative reviews about the service online, but I haven’t found it to be that bad. Of course, like most places, it could always be faster, but for a large and generally busy place, I have found it to be pretty good. I am not typically going there during the most peak times, and have never had to wait too long for a server to show up. When it gets busy and there is a wait for tables, they will take your phone number and call you when a table is ready, which is a little different, but they follow through, and if the wait seems long (like for a patio spot during the summer), it gives you a chance to check around to see if there is somewhere else you would like to go.

Overall, MKT isn’t a major dining experience by any stretch of the imagination. But if you are just going for drinks (especially on a Thursday!), it is a nice place to enjoy a few beers with friends. Just be careful going up the spiral staircase to the washrooms!