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Amsterdam BrewHouse

Posted by Staff / Reviewed on June 25, 2013 / review policy

Amsterdam Brewhouse TorontoThe Amsterdam BrewHouse quietly opened its doors a couple weeks ago in hopes of getting a few of the kinks ironed out before their official opening on July 1st when the absolutely massive space will surely start filling up with throngs of thirsty Torontonians and tourists alike. Unfortunately for them, it's kind of hard to quietly open a 525 seat, 14,000 square foot restaurant and brewery on Toronto's waterfront, so the throngs have already found them.

When I visited the space at 245 Queens Quay West (near the Harbourfront Centre) on a Saturday afternoon I was told there was a waitlist for seats, even though it was barely 1pm. My party took space at one of two bars to settle in for a few laps before we ate. The first of these bars, a large curving service area that extends back toward the second bar, is serviced by a massive row of beer taps built into a former fire extinguisher. Above this bar is a large TV surrounded by a mural that, while finished, seems as though it's still waiting for someone to colour it in.

Amsterdam Brewhouse TorontoWhat strikes you about the space is its sheer ambition. The ceilings are high and vaulted with exposed, natural wood beams and, as you take in the enormity of the space, rows of TVs, and gleaming fermenters in the brewery, it's immediately apparent that Amsterdam has done something that exists nowhere else in the city. Mill Street's Brew Pub seems the only fair comparison, but with their proximity to Jays games, the waterfront, and more accessible transit, it's hard to think that anyone will truly be able to compete with what Amsterdam has done with this piece of waterfront property.

Amsterdam Brewhouse TorontoToward the water, past the in-house brewery that's behind a wall of glass, there's a second bar to your left and, on the right, a unique, open, two-tiered kitchen that features a second floor devoted entirely to prep and a main floor for cooking that includes a wood-burning stove. Here there is more seating and what looks like a more traditional dining room as well as a terrace.

Amsterdam Brewhouse TorontoOutside are a total of three — three! — patios that, when opened, will seat an additional 300 patrons. These seem slated to be the big draw at the brew house, notably one patio that currently hosts a row of Muskoka chairs and sits almost directly on the water.

Amsterdam Brewhouse TorontoOnce we finish our impromptu tour and get settled in to eat, I order another delicious Market Pale Ale, a fantastic, hoppy beer with a clean finish, and the rest of my party takes advantage of the availability of the outstanding Maverick and Gose, a sour beer collaboration Amsterdam made with Great Lakes Brewery that features salt and coriander and is aged in Thirty Bench Chardonnay barrels.

Amsterdam Brewhouse TorontoBeer is clearly the focal point here as there's a wide selection of draft, cask offerings, seasonals, and even bottles from the cellar. As a creative way to sample your way through the beer menu, the brewhouse offers a series of tasting flights, each named with a nod to the brewery's past: there's the Richmond and John, the King and Portland, the Front and Bathurst, and the Leaside.

Amsterdam Brewhouse TorontoThe food, as you might expect from a waterfront tourist trap, is a little on the steep side. Expect burgers like the Smoke House Cheeseburger to run you $15, salads that run the gamut from $6 - $16 (plus optional add-ons like chicken, $5, or steak, $8). There's also more serious mains like the pan-seared salmon with a miso marinade and quinoa pilaf ($22) and steak frites with hand cut fries and brussel sprouts ($32).

Amsterdam Brewhouse TorontoFrom our lunch selections, though, the food seems mostly worth the hefty price tag. We opted for the crispy fish tacos with apple fennel slaw, lime and cilantro ($13) and, though I could have probably eaten at least one more of them, they rank among the best I've tried in the city.

Amsterdam Brewhouse TorontoThe Togarashi Chicken ($12, lead photo) was likewise on-point with a good balance of spice, freshness and crispness, but for me the Amsterdam pretzel, served with a selection of made-in-house, beer-infused mustard ($6), stole the show. Who doesn't love beer and pretzels? (I recommend pairing yours with the newly reimagined 416 beer, no longer an "urban wheat," the area-code named beer makes a return now as the 416 "Local Lager" — and it's a good one).

For dessert, the Tempest Imperial Stout Root Beer was a little confused given that it seems more like ordering a beverage than a dessert but the deep-fried oreos that accompany the drink had my dinner companions wishing it were possible to order a bowl of these by themselves.

Amsterdam Brewhouse TorontoThere's still a few things that need to be worked out, as evidenced by one of our late-arriving appetizers, a nearby table visibly frustrated with their inability to flag down a server, and a line at the door that at times seemed far too long given the available seats, but there's definitely enough here to overlook the little starting hiccups.

It's safe to say that, provided they continue to stay focused on what's important (i.e. all things beer), Amsterdam seems poised to establish a new Toronto dining (and drinking) institution on the city's waterfront.

Amsterdam BrewhouseBen Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. And he took all the pictures for this post.



Jan Moore / June 25, 2013 at 10:52 am
We visited this restaurant on Sunday, June 23rd while checking out the Tall Ships. Food was excellent, and staff very good ... especially our waitress Meghan! Even though the staff and kitchen was overwhelmed and long wait for food, this is to be expected on a festival weekend with a brand new opening. Definitely we will go back. Congratulations on a great place!
PinkLucy / June 25, 2013 at 10:56 am
Also went there on Saturday. As you say, there were some kinks to work out (had to wait way too long for food, but were offered free drinks to make up for the wait), but the food was good, and the beer is great. Wonderful to have Amsterdam back in the 'hood. Looking forward to visiting the patio.
nick d / June 25, 2013 at 11:02 am
pretty excited about this since their last brewery (at Bathurst and Front) was torn down. The hike up to their current brewery (Leaside) is unbearable, but am glad to see them grow and expand so ambitiously. Definitely enjoyed the Market Pale, was pleasantly surprised at how good the wood fired pizza was, and great service for a brand new establishment looking to hit its stride. can pretty much guarantee this place will be a hit, as the article points out. well done Amsterdam! just what the waterfront needs.
Matt / June 25, 2013 at 11:09 am
I ordered a short rib burger but they brought me the smokehouse (bacon, onion ring, cheese) instead and it blew me away. The Fracture IPA is probably the best beer from Toronto that I've ever had. Bartender named Joshua was a great dude and I thought the manager Joe was going to commit seppuku when he found out that I got the wrong burger. (Yeah, because giving someone something with bacon on it will completely ruin their day.)

Super impressed with the whole operation. Gonna have a lot of three hour "work" lunches on the patio this summer.
Teena / June 25, 2013 at 11:10 am
Nice renovation of the former Wallymagoo's! Looking forward to trying it.
hendrix / June 25, 2013 at 11:17 am
Looks like a good addition to harbourfront. it sure beats that hole called Wallymagoos. I remember Wallymagoos as a kid -- didn't like the nautical theme then, didn't like it as an adult. This freshens up the wharf building I think.
local / June 25, 2013 at 11:25 am
Damn. While I'm excited that Amsterdam has established a worthwhile destination on the waterfront, I didn't realize Wallymagoo's was going to be sacrificed in the process. I thought Amsterdam was just taking over the former dog accessories store that was, I believe, a crappy restaurant before it. While Wallymagoo's (terrible name I know) was nothing to write home about on the food front, it was Toronto's only authentic-feeling marine bar and had an atmosphere that channeled Old Boston. Very sad.
P / June 25, 2013 at 11:34 am
Looking forward to trying this place out. Do they have a retail store too? If so, what's the selection of take-out beers like?
Derek James / June 25, 2013 at 01:06 pm
It's massive, impersonal, overpriced and demands that you line up. Perfect! What's not to like?
Chris Schryer / June 25, 2013 at 01:12 pm
P, there is a retail store, though I don't know if it is operation yet. Selection will be core-brands and one-offs Iain and crew make on-sight. They will also have growlers available, and merch.
Gary / June 25, 2013 at 01:14 pm
We visited on the weekend and were really impressed. It's a soft open and they admit they're still working out kinks, and when we were seated they warned us in advance that the wait for food would be longer than normal. I appreciated that and understood.

We enjoyed a few good beers, watched the Jays game on TV and (eventually) tried one of the delicious soft pretzels. It's a beautiful space and the service was friendly and working hard despite the pressure of the crowds and the newness of the place. Sure it's a touristy place and you'll pay more because of the location, but the quality seems to be there and I think it's a great addition to our waterfront.
chris / June 25, 2013 at 01:55 pm
The retail store will be just inside the front door. On Saturday, it was still filled with building supplies.
It is a beautiful place and I wish them all the best. We dropped in before heading up to the Session fest and was blown away by the place. The servers were overwhelmed but knew their stuff and were very accommodating. although I was a bit disappointed that they weren't ready to serve any of the special bottles on the menu, the draft selection was top notch.
So glad to see a string of positive comments here. Trolls, nothing to see here, move along.
Nicky / June 25, 2013 at 02:22 pm
Wallymagoos wasn't sacrificed, it was a hole and an expensive one at that. Am very excited to have the Amsterdam Brewhouse on the Harbourfront. It's a very welcome addition. I was there on Saturday and was very impressed with what I saw. My husband and I are looking forward to visiting regularly as we live just down the road.
PinkLucy replying to a comment from P / June 25, 2013 at 02:40 pm
Yes, they said there would be retail, but that part is still under construction. So much better than having to head up to Leaside :)
Mike / June 25, 2013 at 02:48 pm
Went on Sunday and can echo the same comments from above, somewhat limited in that they haven't officially launched and are just picking things up, but we were both impressed with our time. Each got one of the flights and IMO the menu definitely could be used for a future drinking gam haha. Looking forward to returning throughout the summer, particularly after a daytime Jays game. Noticed right away that the tables didn't feel cramped and that there was a lot of space to breathe. Curious to see how it is once the patio is fully functioning; Root Beer float looks appealing.
J.B. / June 25, 2013 at 03:02 pm
Nice! I both lived and worked in the Harbourfront neighbourhood for several years and never ventured into Wallymagoos. I'll definitely check this place out.

It's tough down there in the winter months though! So best of luck to them (genuinely!)
DarkPassenger / June 25, 2013 at 04:01 pm
Well the food, service and ambiance had better be good.

Seeing as you have to drink Amsterdam.
local replying to a comment from Nicky / June 25, 2013 at 04:10 pm
I wasn't saying it was a 5-star joint, just that it had its charms. At least it had character which, judging by the photos, this place does not. Looks like every other corporate restaurant with a vast footprint. Still, I like Amsterdam and don't want to slag them. I'll be sure to swing by the next chance I get.
M-T / June 25, 2013 at 04:23 pm
Hope they get enough visitors in there between now and Oct 1 to make this place a success.

Once the fall and winter months hit, they will be hard pressed to get anyone, save a few locals, in the doors.

Amanda / June 25, 2013 at 08:05 pm
This place didn't open up a couple weeks ago, it opened unofficially on Thursday...less than a week ago. It's a bit odd to write a review before the official opening of a restaurant, but a fair review so far.
Gabe / June 25, 2013 at 11:17 pm
Looks Great! They gotta open a store front counter there where you can buy take out beer, just like at the brewery AND on holidays.
lol / June 25, 2013 at 11:54 pm
looks like the perfect typical cultureless toronto experience
ann / June 26, 2013 at 12:19 am
we stopped in while at tall ships. WOW what a great space they completely re did this place, not a thing from the last place (Pier 4) there was clearly some items to finish like the MASSIVE patio space it had to be several hundred seats. This has got to be one of the BEST patios in Toronto - no condos in the way, lake side, full sun till 8-9pm. my husband and i were very surprised with the food quality, way more then we expected. its was new so we waited a bit but worth every minute. the brewery is staged behind a 25 foot glass wall and looks crazy. this has upped the bar for new city hot spots. Mill Street has nothing on this place...from the food on down... well done.
Johnny / June 26, 2013 at 04:25 pm
Finally, I've been waiting years for something decent to take up that space...
Chug / June 27, 2013 at 12:14 am
This would be a great venue to do a Waterfront Amsterdamn music night or series...
P / June 27, 2013 at 12:22 am
Just went after being excited to try it out. Unfortunately the food and service was abysmal. Took 20 mins before someone acknowledged our group, appetisers arriving after entrees were finished (6 minutes turned into half an hour..), stale bread, stale replacement bread, told that the bread was a 'known issue' (yet they're still serving it?!), and being told "well a Blog said that they were the best fish tacos in the city" (referring to this review) when they couldn't have been further away from the best fish tacos in the city. I could go on. Real shame, was so stoked about this place. The beer and the pretzels were pretty good, but the rest needs so much work. Totally disappointed and fairly reluctant to go back to be honest.
lol / June 27, 2013 at 06:50 pm
sooooo how much is a beer?
Jeff replying to a comment from P / June 28, 2013 at 12:56 pm
That's perfect, one less person ruining my night by complaining next to me.
Chris / June 29, 2013 at 09:15 am
Went there on friday night. The place is beautiful! Great selection of beers too. Service was friendly but we were warned about wait times for food. They said they were still doing soft opens. I like that they warned us. The food was good but the stand out to this place was the beer and the atmosphere. Love what Amsterdam has been doing the past few years. Keep it up!
Jennifer / June 29, 2013 at 09:18 am
Beats the hell out of the pretentious Mill. St brew pub. We will be back!
Daryl / July 1, 2013 at 08:05 pm
Went there on the thursday before Canada Day weekend. Service was ridiculously slow. I was prepared (after reading this review, and Foursquare tips), but still... it was outrageous!

Not only was our food slow, but our waitress took 7 minutes to show up initially (AND she didn't even bring menus). Eventually, when she returned with menus, she handed them with some excuse and small-talk, then asked if we had decided (obviously not, she just brought the menu!)

Later in the evening, it took her 30 minutes to drop off a single pint. Our meals took 45 minutes from when we ordered... All-in-all, we spent 2.5 hours and ruined our evening plans.

They really need to work out the service issues before the official launch.
James / July 1, 2013 at 08:17 pm
Great beer, bad service. Waited for half hour when already had reservations.. Then sat on the back patio where I was ignored by all passing servers. Finally I flagged down a random waitress who apologized for the confusions. She said she would find the server assigned to my table. That never happend, I ended up having to flag her down everytime I wanted something. The random waitress told her manager of my situation, I tried to explain to him myself also but he seemed full of disbelief. When I asked for the bill it arrived with the total being $0.00 but when I went to leave I was chased down by that random waitress saying it was a mistake. I was appalled the service was awful and they still charged me! My canada day experience there wasn't that great lets just say.
Jer / July 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm
Yeah, saw a line of 10 + people waiting for a seat when there were still empty seats on teh patio/etc so I think they are realizing they can't deal with the volume. They should maybe just close off a section of the restaurant until they figure out how do get things going and deal with the size of the space.

Too bad they opened at the busiest time of year (Canada Day weekend/ summer in general) vs. having time to get used to things (like, if it opened in the spring).

GrandVizeer replying to a comment from James / July 2, 2013 at 01:45 pm
Typical opening blues. Great chef, hard working staff, enthusiastic and friendly servers, all capped off by a blithering idiot incompetent out of their league head waiter. Pity. I'll stop by in a month or two, not before.
yeahhhhh / July 2, 2013 at 02:13 pm
Fire Extinguisher? Isnt that a fire hydrant?
AJ / July 5, 2013 at 01:35 am
Terrible service both by servers and management. Highly advise staying away from this place for the summer. Waited an hour for drinks to arrive and another hour for food. Honestly I don't care how nice their patio is. The unorganized mayhem that is the Amsterdam brewhouse is just not worth it.
AG replying to a comment from Derek James / July 5, 2013 at 09:50 pm
Ya i was there last night and i have to agree this particular comment. HOWEVER, despite SLOW service my classic poutine was pretty darn good. The Amdam Blonde is my favorite beer. Hands down they have the best summer patio ever. I will definitely go back just to be outside by the water.

I will lower my expectations accordingly on everything else. It can only go up from here right?
h / July 9, 2013 at 06:28 pm
I went last Sat (July 6)- it was an awful experience!
When we arrived we were told the wait would be approx 1 hr .... but line wasn't too, too long so we decided to wait.
Despite empty tables on outdoor patio, line was not moving. People were leaving restaurant, but they were not quick about letting waiting guests in. Then after waiting in line for close to 1 hour, and it was our turn, we were then told that kitchen was behind and it would be another hour before we would get our food!!
Why didn't someone tell us that an hour ago?? We left!!
Restaurant is desperately in need of someone who can manage a 14,000 sq ft restaurant!

Unhappy customer
RS / July 12, 2013 at 01:38 pm
Went this afternoon for lunch. 5 Stars all around. Good food, good drink, and great views.
lizzy / July 14, 2013 at 02:42 pm
I was here last night. Got there early because I figured that because it was such a beautiful day, the patio would be crazy.
I waited in a 20 minute lineup outside (like I was waiting in line for a club). Got inside and it was EMPTY! How annoying!

The waitress was okay in the beginning, but the service got pretty bad by the end of the night. There were 4 people in my group and all of our orders were messed up. It took an hour for our food to be served and when it did come out it was cold and tasteless.

Amsterdam is my favourite brewery in Toronto and I will continue to drink their beer. Perhaps I'd go back to the brewhouse again (making sure that I eat before I go), because the patio is awesome - right on the water.. and the beer was like $5.

The place is a little generic though.
At least there are other bars in the city that serve Amsterdam beer with food that has flavour.
When will people learn about SEASONING MEAT BEFORE YOU COOK IT!

Other issues:
The music they were playing sucked. They should hire someone for that.
Because of the d-baggy area... there were a lot of d-bags.. in club attire.

Hopefully in time Amsterdam gets it together.
iloveTO / July 24, 2013 at 12:18 pm
I visited last Thursday with a couple of friends from out of town. It was a great experience all around. When we arrived (around 5:30 pm) there was absolutely no line and we were seated by a friendly hostess in no time. The beer selection was amazing, although a little over-priced for some of the seasonals and special brews. I ordered the fish tacos and was disappointed a little bit, not because they were particularly bad, but because they were no where near "the best in the city" as referenced in this review. Beer and food was served quickly, but the best part was the beautiful view of the lake and the cheerful atmosphere - perfect for a hot and sunny summer afternoon!
Mel / July 29, 2013 at 04:32 pm
Been there twice. The first time was alright, on a week night. Server had no personality and didn't know what they were and were not serving. Food and beer overpriced.

Second time we made a reservation for 5pm on a Sunday for 8 people. Took them 30 min to get a table together. Bathrooms are a mess, and most toilets out of order or toilet paper. One of the guys serving the food was a complete jerk when he brought out regular french fries and was told sweet potato fries were ordered. Poorly managed and staffed. Hopefully they turn things around.
Larry / August 11, 2013 at 07:20 am
Horrible service, terrible food, way too loud.
Once was more than enough, will never return.
Marie / August 14, 2013 at 05:07 pm
I was in Toronto visiting some friends for the weekend and needed a patio on the water - Enter Amsterdam Brewhouse.
Great location right on the harbour front with one of the best patios I have ever sat on (the muskoka chairs are phenomenal!!).

Understandably, there was a bit of a wait to be seated on the patio during one of the nicest weekends in Toronto this year, however we were told we could have some drinks at any one of the 3 bars while we waited for a table.

The Bartenders and servers were very knowledgeable about the beers that were available. The selection and rotation is quite spectacular.

We will definitely be back before the end of the summer!
Ohsurprised! / August 19, 2013 at 01:41 pm
I am disappointed with Amsterdam Brewhouse management's lack of "accountability" and blantness when it comes to reservations not honored. I reserved a patio area for 30 people a month in advance and when we went there even the reservation was inexistent. So, they make you call the event office just for nothing. Food was ok, but not enough. One of the guests was let with no food until she complaint to the waitress. Over all, I think they do not fullfil my expectations and will never go back.
jlen / August 19, 2013 at 02:04 pm
Was there this past weekend - so underwhelmed. The waterfront in Toronto is not nice enough to warrant those prices paired with such mediocre service and food. I hope it sorts itself out, this place has killer potential. Those Muskoka chairs alone...
Kyle / August 20, 2013 at 12:37 pm
Terrible service, terrible food, worst experience at a restaurant in my life. We had reservations for a table of 12 and when we got there they knew nothing of it and it took over 40 minutes to just sit down... Then a server didn't show up for over 20 minutes...then an additional hour for any food to show up. Oh and the drinks took an hour as well. I'm ashamed for all Canadians because their duck poutine was pathetic. GFS fries (pre cut and blanched and arrives in a gaseous bag to the restaurant), maybe 2 ounces of duck (which could have been pork or chicken it had no distinct flavour or texture) and a tbsp of "veloute" which was incredibly under-seasoned. this is what tourists are going to think a poutine is, as there are sure to be many tourists down at that location, which is very sad. Hand the kitchen over to some chefs who can do that location justice, it's a real shame they have such an amazing spot and they aren't doing it justice. Someone or group with too much money and not enough experience clearly owns it. AVOID LIKE THE PLAGUE
lol / August 22, 2013 at 11:45 pm
I have a friend who works their and he told me their beer fridge is so small that they constantly run out of beer.... AT A BREWHOUSE!!!!!!!
Na / September 4, 2013 at 11:29 pm
Awful. Manager is rude and swearing at the staff working there. No wonder all of the staff is miserable.
lol / September 5, 2013 at 02:30 am
Patrick / October 14, 2013 at 03:55 pm
Poutine was decent despite not using cheese curds (that I could tell). Charcuterie was a joke lifted from the lovlaws deli counter. Don't waste your time. Hostess was miserable. Took ages for us to get a seat in a half empty restaurant. These guys need to step it up a lot.
Former / December 25, 2013 at 10:33 pm
The GM verbally abuses the staff to no end. Swearing at them, saying "fuck" all the time. This Restraunt also RIPS ITS WORKERS OFF. I have been given checks missing HUNDREDS of dollars and the GM blames those just trying to get what they are owed. I have never been treated so badly in my life. I hope this place goes under because the amount of crap the staff is forced to take and there's NO ONE to go to for help because the owner is in reachable and the GM won't give his information.
This is NOT amsterdams fault though. It's the independent company they hired to run the place. Anyone who came from amsterdam was really kind but they are oblivious to what is going on in that place.
Former / December 25, 2013 at 10:37 pm
The GM I was referring to was not who is listed as working there now. I hope the original one was fired he treated people with no respect no matter how polite you were to him.
M.Harris replying to a comment from local / May 26, 2014 at 09:37 am
Makes a lot more sense to have an establishment on Toronto's harbour that channeled Toronto rather than a foreign city.
George Neary / November 2, 2014 at 05:56 am
visited the Amsterdam Brewhouse whilst staying with friends in Ontario. The choice of beers were great. As for the burgers, they were the best I've ever had. Would definitely come again, and recommend to friends and relatives

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