Two months ago Prenup Pub opened across the road from the St. George campus of the University of Toronto. I was invited to the bloggers’ dinner, happening last week, and accepted because Prenup Pub shares an owner with Sin & Redemption, The Village Idiot and The Town Crier. All of them have fantastic beer lists, and all of them have food menus that are just a little bit different from each other. I’ve been going to them for several years and walk out happy.
My Prenup Pub experience
When I arrived I found a dinner menu with 4 apps, 3 mains and 1 dessert, all to be served family-style. On one of the menus the owner had written down beer names next to each dish, presumably for pairing. Except it wasn’t. I got the Hofbräu Münchner Weisse with the Wurst Salad and it all went haywire from there.
On the back of my menu I scrawled the following: “There were beer pairings but a bunch of dishes came at once. Apps with mains. The pacing confused me.”
Separately I wrote, “confused, rushed.” At one point I was overwhelmed because dishes were coming out before I’d had a chance to taste the one before it.
I also wrote this: “If you know that you’re feeding a group of bloggers – an arranged dinner – bring your A-game”. They did not. It was frenzied and disorganized and frankly, it stressed me out. At the end of the evening I walked out feeling like I’d just wasted two hours of my life.
The first dish served was the Wurst Salad and I enjoyed it the most. Sliced sausages, tomato, garlic, parsley, dill pickles, marinated with olive oil and German Mustard. It seemed charcuterie inspired. I loved those pickles. The dish in front of me was as described. I couldn’t say the same about what came out next, the “Pork Schnitzel Mustard & Horseradish” (a main). It was under-seasoned with no hint of horseradish. It was barely edible, and I was hungry. I’ll eat almost anything when hungry. The salad continued to be the only thing I liked that I was served that evening, except the fries. The fries were fantastic as they are at all the pubs in the family. At the sibling pubs I almost always order the frites with the mayo sauce served in their little tower with ramekins of sauce.
The Mussels (an app) were too fishy, the PreNup Pizza (a main) tasty but with a crust too thin to pick up (I folded it over). The Waterzooi (Belgian stew from Ghent with chicken, leeks, carrots and cream) was alright but didn’t impress me. The Madame Monsieur Waffle – a waffle topped with with cooked Chimay ham, Chimay cheese and fried egg probably would be good hot, and I was confused by the chunks of sugar inside. I was also confused about its classification as an “appetizer”. The Beer Braised Lamb was pretty good, wrapped in phyllo pastry served with mashed potatoes and vegetables that included red cabbage and cauliflower. I liked the cabbage.
The Tiramisu had a good hit of coffee. I forgot to ask if the dessert is made in house. It went really well with the beer that was brought with it.
We sampled 3:
1. The Hofbräu Münchner Weisse (or “Weiße”, if you prefer) is a German Hefeweizen style beer. The aroma is wheat, citrus, and spices and it’s refreshing, as beers of this style are, with a clean crisp finish.
2. Affligem Blond. Here’s how McClelland Premium Imports describes Affligem Blond:
Affligem Blond is a Belgian Abbey ale with a light hoppy taste, an elegant bitterness and slightly bitter aroma. Affligem Blond pours a pale gold colour and has a complex nose of dried fruit, malt and spices with a balanced palate of dried fruit flavours. The secondary fermentation process increases the alcohol content and adds extra flavour to this abbey ale. Affligem Blond is an unpasteurized, all natural beer free of additives and preservatives. Affligem Blond won bronze at the 2011 International Beer Challenge in London.
I didn’t like it. I liked the smell but after a few sips I thought it tasted off. However, one of my co-diners liked this one the best, so perhaps it was subjective taste. The LCBO carries Affligem Blond for $2.70 a bottle.
3. Rodenbach Grand Cru is an award-winning sour that went well with dessert, in part because of the raspberry sauce. The official Rodenbach Grand Cru tasting notes are, “Grand Cru by Rodenbach has on average been left for much longer in the oak casks of the Roeselare “beer cathedral”, which results in a more pronounced version of the “Flanders Red-Brown Beer” style. Rodenbach Grand Cru consists of 1/3 young beer and 2/3 beer matured two years in oak. The result is a complex beer with a great deal of wood and esters, vinous and with a very long aftertaste, just like a Grand Cru wine. ” I get raisins and tart cherries from it. One thing about sours is that you either love them or you hate them but the flavours are so complex and different than anything. I might not always like the sours I try but I appreciate them for this. I can taste a sour and say “Amazing beer but not for me.”
School is in session
My opinion about the food and service don’t matter. Want to know why?
And that’s okay!
This is a bar with a spectacular beer selection across the road from a major university. When I was in university I drank a lot of terrible beer. Think Molson Canadian and Rickard’s Red. Granted, this was long before Canada had amazing micro-brews but many bars still rely heavily on Molson and Labatt products. They might throw in some Steam Whistle and/or Mill Street taps for some local cred.
That’s in strong contrast to Prepub Pub and its siblings. Read this on Prenup Pub‘s website home page:
In return, all clientele promise to remain loyal and faithful and attend one of our pubs at least once a week, WITH AT LEAST ONE FRIEND, and never to be unfaithful by drinking any generic beer for the rest of their lives! Also, they must promise to try every beer on tap within the first three months of signing this agreement. FAILURE TO COMPLY will result in the client being sent to a Halfway Beer House (Town Crier Pub) at 115 John St., where he/she will learn about quality beers and proper drinking. Then he/she shall be forced to sit at home alone in the basement to be PUNISHED by drinking a Labatt and a Molson beer everyday for a week, and shall give up all his/her assets to charity. And his/her spouse shall be allowed to drink all our great beers at The Pre-Nup Pub, file for divorce, and report to the Halfway Beer House before curfew (last call). Though if he/she repeats his/her sin, he/she shall have to go to the Village Idiot Pub (126 McCaul St.), and declare to everyone that HE/SHE IS the VILLAGE IDIOT, and he/she will never be allowed in our pubs again.
These are good demands of any drinker of impressionable age.
And so, they don’t need good reviews from bloggers like me. They don’t need our social media. It doesn’t matter that my experience was a bad one. The bar isn’t for me and that’s okay. Just like how some cheesy TV show for tweens (I dunno – Melissa & Joey? 90210?), doesn’t need me for ratings, Prenup Pub doesn’t need my review or my business. They’ll do what they need to do: Teach those university students about beer. Night school, no education. I appreciate the pub for that.
Educate the young’ns about European brews. Introduce them to styles such as lambics and krieks and sours. Introduce them to beers made by monks. Let them meet two of my favourites from those pubs: Leffe Brune and Leffe Blonde. Or Fuller’s. I enjoy Fuller’s beers.
For those who prefer fruity there are a number of options including the Fruli Strawberry Wheat and mixed together with a strong Delirium Tremens, a delicious beer cocktail I’ve heard called “Frulirium” is born. The 4.1% alc/vol Fruli also tones down the 8.5% Delirium.
The folks behind Prenup Pub, Sin & Redemption, The Village Idiot and The Town Crier know their beer and they serve styles of beer for every palate. This is what every University campus needs.
I won’t return to this spot but that’s okay. Prenup Pub will do fine without me. I hope those kids appreciate the $2 million reno that was done to the spot for this bar.
Class is in session.