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Restaurants

Bellwoods Brewery

Posted by Emily Burke / Reviewed on May 10, 2012 / review policy

Bellwoods BreweryBellwoods Brewery is one of three new restaurants to open on Ossington in the last month, along with The Saint and Hawker Bar. Still in its first month, the brewpub, which took over the space from Meta Gallery, had a packed house and a lineup out the door by 6 p.m. on Saturday. Owners Luke Pestl and Michael Clark were brewers for Amsterdam beer before opening Bellwoods, so they're no strangers to the craft, but running a restaurant is a first for both of them. So far, they seem to have it down pat.

Tucked back from the sidewalk in what was once an autoshop, the brewpub has an open area in front that will become a patio once the weather warms. The adjacent shop will soon open as their retail store, carrying their selection of drafts (see our review of them here).

Bellwoods BreweryThe unassuming white exterior opens to an interior that is at once quaint and industrial. The back of the space is lined with towering, 20-foot high stainless steel fermenting tanks--this is where all the beer magic happens. But the intimate seating area has room for only 40 and feels like a pleasant cottage dining room. It's peppered with mismatched tables which are topped with small white candles and little mason jars of wild flowers. Meaty, warm aromas waft from the open kitchen where chef Guy Rawlings (of Brockton General and Lucien) prepares dishes. With Pestl and Clark moving casually between the glassed-in brew area and the front of the house, there's a fun energy to the place.

Bellwoods BreweryAfter waiting in a short line, my friend and I took a spot at the bar. At the bartender's recommendation, we ordered the Farmhouse Saison ($7.50), which was a good starting point. A sunny-coloured beer with fruity notes, the Saison has a lot of flavour without being too hoppy or over-powering.

Bellwoods BreweryOur brews were a nice, light accompaniment to the starters we ordered. We opted for a plate of salami ($9) made from lean beef and garlic that melted on the tongue and was a fine repose between sips of beer.

Bellwoods BreweryWe paired this with a plate of Thunder Oak extra-old gouda ($12) served with fresh bread from Woodlot. The creamy but sharp cheese was tasty enough to eat all on its own, but the bread complemented it well.

Bellwoods BreweryWe ordered a second round of beers. This time, we chose the caramel-coloured Witchshark Iipa ($8.50) — a hoppy, citrusy drink to awaken our taste buds after our cured and salty appetizers.

Bellwoods BreweryNext up, we were tempted by the lamb tongue with walnuts and raisin ($4) or the duck heart, charred with jalapeno oil ($4), but in the interest of our daily vegetable intake, we opted for the slightly less adventurous cucumber with paprika and garlic ($3). This arrived looking beautiful and bright on the plate, but was not a favourite. The cucumber was grilled, which enhanced the flavour and gave it a more tender texture, but we found ourselves craving the cucumber we know and love: served crisp, cold and refreshing.

Bellwoods BreweryThe star of the evening was the duck leg, topped with shaved strips of asparagus, and a sauce made from apple, tarragon and sorrel ($15). The crisp asparagus balanced the tender duck and the sauce's flavours, although the texture of the meat was a little inconsistent and some bites were tougher than others. But when they got it right, it was so right.

To finish off we tried the Toil and Trouble Dubbel ($8.50), a dark mahogany beer with rich, fruity flavours. We sampled this one after dinner and the memory of dark fruits (maybe currents or berries) lingered pleasantly on my taste buds for the rest of the evening — a satisfying end to a satisfying meal.

Bellwoods Brewery

Discussion

58 Comments

lol / April 15, 2012 at 09:22 pm
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9 dollars a glass? really?
JT replying to a comment from lol / April 18, 2012 at 09:49 am
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Nothing is $9 a glass. The 9% alcohol Double IPA is just over 8 tax in if I can recall correctly. Well worth it. Others are pretty standard. Great spot.
BIG BRAINS replying to a comment from JT / April 28, 2012 at 09:16 pm
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I wouldn't say that either their prices or their selection of beers are "pretty standard". Prices range from $7 to $8.50 a glass, which would be on the pricey side if they were serving standbys like Steamwhistle and Tankhouse, but on the other hand there's currently nowhere else you can get the beers they make. I haven't been yet, but I look forward to trying their stuff.
George Adams / May 10, 2012 at 12:03 pm
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Look at you now Rolly's, you're all growed up!! It looks great here and I look forward to dining here, so long as the asshole contingent stays under control and this place doesen't become over-run with effing foodies.

Does this place take reservations and can I bring my kids?
Warren replying to a comment from George Adams / May 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm
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Get a babysitter.
George Adams replying to a comment from Warren / May 10, 2012 at 12:45 pm
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No. My children deserve the quality of life and enjoyment that I am entitled to give to them. I will not get a babysitter.
zergrush replying to a comment from George Adams / May 10, 2012 at 12:48 pm
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And we're entitled to not hear you kids whine and run around like a bunch of brats. Shackle them them to desk.
mmm duck hearts replying to a comment from George Adams / May 10, 2012 at 01:33 pm
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I'm sure your children are just dying to try duck hearts and lambs tongue. Maybe let them wash it down with one of the craft brews too eh?
with extra tentacles / May 10, 2012 at 02:30 pm
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"Entitled" covers it regarding parents who insist on taking their kids where they're not wanted. Sheesh.
GranVizeer replying to a comment from George Adams / May 10, 2012 at 02:42 pm
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So George, you like to take your kids to a brewery. Oh, I get it, they get to laugh at daddy get sh1t faced and watch him hurl onto somebody's shoes! What fun!
Soused / May 10, 2012 at 02:45 pm
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I loved the Grandma's boy beer and I love this place. Once the retail store opens half of the park will be drinking out of growlers.
Japhet / May 10, 2012 at 03:08 pm
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George doesn't have to get shit-faced if he brings his kids.

Bonus: If his kids are well-behaved, it might be nice to expose them to something other than hamburgers.

This doesn't seem to be a problem in other parts of the world. I have no idea why it's such a big deal in North America.
Mark A. / May 10, 2012 at 03:10 pm
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I do look forward to trying this place out, but the prices do make me miss the $5 tax-in pints at Duggan's right downtown.
Japhet replying to a comment from zergrush / May 10, 2012 at 03:24 pm
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Here's the thing... With the exception of certain bars, parents should be able to bring their kids to most restaurants.

But the onus is on the parents to raise their kids right. They have to teach them how to behave. A child should be able to talk to the server, not need a separate menu and leave the other diners in peace.
Christopher / May 10, 2012 at 03:24 pm
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Lovely spot, lovely beers. Not everything's a hit, but that's part of the fun of an ambitious brew pub. Can't wait 'til they sell bottles next door.
giuliano replying to a comment from Japhet / May 10, 2012 at 03:31 pm
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I love it how a discussion about a new fancy joint invariably gravitates around parents and their "spoilt" brats.
Not all kids need ipads and video games to keep them from whining. Having said that, the place is simply too crammed to reasonably bring kids along and expect them to behave for a couple of hours. Simple common sense. Parents have it, too.

More to the point though: the Witchshark IIPA is the best of its kind in Ontario (almost on par with similar stuff from the West Coast or Garrison in Nova Scotia) and the Baltic Porter gives Trois Mousquetaires a run for its money.
And yes, duck hearts.
68 replying to a comment from Japhet / May 10, 2012 at 04:05 pm
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you don't have kids do you?
Ken / May 10, 2012 at 08:20 pm
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I love when people say that kids can or can't do or attend where they attend. I am so glad you speak your mind but really you have no choice. So rant till your blue in the face, but it is all for nothing because you can't do ish about it.
Ken / May 10, 2012 at 08:22 pm
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Great now I forgot to mention anything about Bellwoods, because of all the douchey comments. I can't wait to try and I will bring my kids so you can tell me in person how you feel.
Japhet replying to a comment from 68 / May 11, 2012 at 02:46 am
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No I don't but I have friends who do and some of them have even managed to include them in their lives which means going out to restaurants sometimes.

Guess what, the kids behave. They were raised right. Look at Italy. Plenty of case examples. Every French family I've ever served has super-obedient kids.
Ally / May 11, 2012 at 09:18 am
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I say bring your kids as long as you don't mind the fact that they will hear me say the F word a LOT when I'm drinking.
KitCat replying to a comment from mmm duck hearts / May 11, 2012 at 09:45 am
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Excuse me, as a child I was privy to a lot of fine dining experiences. I now have a great deal of respect for dishes of braised duck leg and other such delicious dishes. I was well behaved and courteous because my parents were good parents.

Screaming kids in a restaurant is due to bad parenting, not just because children are there.

I've worked in restaurants and have seen plenty of children behave better than most adults. So it doesn't matter if someone wants to bring in their kid, what does matter is whether or not they are well behaved.
Jason / May 11, 2012 at 09:47 am
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Now now children....can't we all just get along?

For the record, I was at Bellwoods last week. They actually have a couple high chairs and one couple had a kid. No one seemed to mind. In fact...it gave the place a good community feel. It was early though. Awesome spot.
Chris on Brant / May 11, 2012 at 09:53 am
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Just returned from San Diego. Locally brewed beers (there are 40+ producers) are $3-5 a pint. We are getting screwed in this city.
Jake replying to a comment from Chris on Brant / May 11, 2012 at 11:44 am
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Totally agree with you, Chris.
chris / May 11, 2012 at 02:51 pm
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Went here with the SO shortly after it opened. Mostly great beer, okay seating layout and great food, but the portions are tiny tiny tiny. As a result, we got really sloshed (and not on purpose) and ended the evening at Sneaky Dee's over a plate of nachos. The servers were great - really knowledgeable about the beer and food and very accomodating. But make the food bigger, please; small plates and beer are not friends.
Marvin replying to a comment from chris / May 11, 2012 at 03:31 pm
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What the heck is it with many TO restaurants that make great tasting meals, but shrink them as if all their customers are on a crash diet. This is definitely NOT THE WAY to make friends, good beer or not.
robg / May 11, 2012 at 04:59 pm
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Went there last night. Food is tasty but tiny, and the beer is quite expensive as well (the stronger beers are ~$8.50 for 12 oz). Nice atmosphere, good place for a beer and a light snack. Not a good place for the hungry.
Johnny Cash 2.0 / May 14, 2012 at 09:56 am
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I liked it a lot here. Nice vibe with the open wall and fresh air. Friendly hostess. Beers were great. I had to laugh at the peanuts though... $5 for a tiny handful? Sure, there's some cilantro and spice on there, but for five bucks I'd expect at least few more in the dish!
Kaytee replying to a comment from Johnny Cash 2.0 / May 14, 2012 at 02:57 pm
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The tinier the serving, the tinier the tip, no matter what the menu says. Get that, you stingy UN-Friendly owners.
Nelson / May 14, 2012 at 11:34 pm
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Made my first visit tonight. Overall, I liked the place. Cool space, although I can see them becoming a victim of their own success and quickly outgrowing it. On a Monday at 6:30 pm it felt crowded. Not a fan of the rather claustrophobic upstairs space. While I appreciate that they are a new brew pub on Ossington that has heavily invested in brewing infrastructure, I'm not crazy about the $7+ prices for 12oz and 16oz drinks. Call me old fashioned, but I like my beer served in proper British (20oz) pints, regardless of alcohol content. I know nothing of the economics of craft brewing, but I do know that Duggan's followed the same chintzy format and they went under... Maybe the pricing is an Ossington-specific thing that I'll never appreciate or understand. The menu was full of expensive teeny tiny snacks that, in my opinion, are not good staples for having with beer. While the beer can be artisanal, I think the food suffered for trying to hard. All of it was tasty and well-executed, but I'd prefer to have a proper meal with my craft beer and not just fancy, pricey snacks. Again, maybe this is a successful formula for Ossington, but I live nowhere near the O-strip, and don't feel any especial desire to make the trip to Bellwood's again.
Sophia / May 16, 2012 at 03:08 am
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Did the author mean 'currants' or does the beer really taste like moving water?
RP / May 23, 2012 at 10:04 am
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Can I bring my dog if he's well behaved?

Unfortunately parents with misbehaven kids obviously don't know their kids are misbehaven because they're the shitty parents who raised them. I don't mind kids if they're respectful, but it's a few bad apple (lf we're being honest, its actually MOST kids unfortunately) that ruin it for the rest of you. If your child is even remotely disruptive, please leave them home.

Re the restaurant, the food portions are tiny, yes, but they're inexpensive enough that you cam try a bunch of different things and not blow your budget. That's the point, its more along the lines of tappas than traditional food menus. Beer is great, and best of all, the service is friendly! Will return.
KD / May 28, 2012 at 12:16 pm
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I live in the neighborhood and have been looking forward to Bellwoods opening for so long. I was so dissapointed with this place. The beer was good, but not good enough to charge $7 for 12oz. The food was a huge scam. We ordered two prawn "sticks" for two people. They were $6.50 each and what we got was a tiny little shrimp stretched out over a tiny skewer. It was maybe a half a bite for $6.50. We were so appalled by the portion size we didn't even bother ordering anything else for fear of being completely ripped off. I have actually never been so disgusted with the presentation of a dish in my life. This place better make some changes to the prices and the menu if they want people to keep coming back.
liz / June 27, 2012 at 03:12 pm
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I would have to agree with you kd... i was super excited to try out this new place too! We stopped in one night for a beer and ended up ordering a couple of snacks as well...
After recommending me a beer, the server failed to mention the fact that it was a much higher percentage, (also a 1/2 pt due to the higher % alcohol.)I honestly just wanted a regular pint of beer...
or two, so.. that kinda ruined it for me.
We ended up ordering the peanuts and some kind of salami to graze on.. and what they brought us seemed like a joke....
I was completely shocked when the bill came to around $35 plus tip. It seems completely unreasonable to me, and although its a lovely establishment, i definitely don't think i'll be back.
CR / July 1, 2012 at 05:51 pm
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Pretty disappointing. The beer is good even though I wish they'd pour full pints. The food was a complete joke. The pork sandwich tasted too strongly of Chinese 5 spice, portion was small. Duck hearts tasted like rubber bands and looked like grey chunks of hotdogs (charred jalapeno was nice); fermented vegetables were alright but, and this might be personal, I'm not sure that fermented vegetables make sense with beer (fermented taste of wheat with fermented vegetables equals too much fermentation). Friend had "cold fried chicken". It was so-so, except it cost $10 and had literally three nuggets of chicken hidden beneath two thin strips of mandolin sliced cucumber (an attempt to make fancy and hide what the dish really was: a few pieces of cold, not crispy chicken--but how could they have been, since fried things usually become soggy after they cool down. For desert they had cherries and sorrel, etc, but the cherries had their pits in it and you were supposed to eat the dish with a spoon, which made zero sense.

Matzoh Ball / July 25, 2012 at 09:48 am
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Expensive. Tiny portions. Really tiny. Nice atmosphere and friendly staff. Slaw was foodcourt quality. If no lineup, pop in for a beer on your way somewhere else.
mayor dodge replying to a comment from Matzoh Ball / July 25, 2012 at 10:36 am
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You said it. With all the NEGATIVE comments here about the eeny-weeny food portions, you think the owners would do better for their valued clientele. It looks they partake of their own suds too much to notice, or even care. What a shame. I'll avoid this joke.
Roctop replying to a comment from liz / August 16, 2012 at 03:20 pm
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A REAL brewery would offer peanuts for FREE. Looks like the 1% owners are saving up for Porches one appetizer at a time. LOL
Hepman replying to a comment from Roctop / August 16, 2012 at 04:17 pm
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You mean PORSCHES parked in front of their porches, pal.
LU / December 6, 2012 at 11:02 am
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As for kids in restaurants, that are really designed for children, really I have children, and you have to be considerate of others, nobody wants to hear kids rough house, and if they are culinary interested that's great, but don't make it a bad experience for the rest.
Back in the day, when smoking was allowed in restaurants, you you were asked, smoking or non, my response.. no kids! just saying!
rodrigo / January 12, 2013 at 11:08 am
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people have an option to bring there kids wherever they want what difference does it make it to anybody when in reality all this talk is taking away from what the restaurant really is. with that said this place is GREAT for a home brewed beer. The food is different and delicious i admit some things on the menu i wish was kept similar to pub food you would find in a place like this but over all i like there ambition to try something different and make it work. cheers!
rodrigo / January 12, 2013 at 11:11 am
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on another note being that the beer is home brewed i do wish they had slightly cheaper prices in order to accommodate the neighborhood - the very neighborhood that keeps them going. remember to start somewhere you have to start small and even if they are from amsterdam where they make many beers shouldn't justify the price of there beer. after all it is made on canadian soil.
Gareth / April 17, 2013 at 11:41 am
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Things I've learned from the comments

1) Blogto readers are cheap

2) People like large portions

3) People fail to realize the a 9% should be served 12oz at a time

Still love the Bellwoods
http://www.aboutus.org/funtas.tk / April 22, 2013 at 12:11 pm
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Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment
(it was super long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I had written and say, I'm
thoroughly enjoying your blog. I too am an aspiring blog writer but I'm still new to the whole thing. Do you have any suggestions for novice blog writers? I'd genuinely appreciate it.
jonasOfToronto / May 17, 2013 at 04:02 am
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Hey the beers aren't cheap nor are they that expensive for what they are - ie. Bellwoods are equivalent to Quebec's Dieu du Ciel! brewery in their high quality. Add to this many brews are special or unusual styles - often this makes beers more labour and materials intensive, and slower to make, all of which will add slightly to their cost. Try getting a few tasters at a time if you're on a budget and want to have some fun sampling all the different ones.

I used to steer clear of the glaringly small-portioned, expensive food; recent menu changes and portion sizes look better, and I want to try the great-smelling braised beef short ribs next time. Though if you depend on a full belly to drink, why depend on them - you can arrive already fed sand then focus on ordering beer (and clamouring for coveted seating space.)
matt / July 5, 2013 at 09:03 am
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The beer here is good but I think they change their brew offerings to quickly. They should have 2-3 beers that they keep on menu for at least a season. One of the owners is also extremely arrogant.
Matt / July 5, 2013 at 09:13 am
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I also think they could be racist because they stopped serving my asian friend after two pints and he was comoletely fine.
Joseph / July 5, 2013 at 09:15 am
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Food is overpriced, beer is slightly better than average. Perfect place for a bunch of hipster morons who think they are getting the best of the best. Not to mention the douchebag bartenders. Sadly, the best part of this place is the wholesome beautiful wait staff, clearly hand picked to look all the same.
Chris replying to a comment from Joseph / July 5, 2013 at 09:23 am
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I would have to agree the place is full of hype beasts
Cons / July 5, 2013 at 09:29 am
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Decent brews and an awesome concept completely tarnished by pretentious and condescending staff as well as overpriced food. The best brew I had came from their guest tap. Visit your local pub to support Ontario craft breweries that actually appreciate your business rather than trying to turn profit at every opportunity.
Grab / July 10, 2013 at 10:56 am
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They wished me to moon. Big favourite moon was nice!!! Adventure, love, etc. Only problem was flying maze trap, but we get superpower. Duck hearts were special womb-flash.
Iliana / July 11, 2013 at 11:11 pm
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Quite the spot - A large open patio, beige fence, laughter and lots of people, it is a hard spot not to feel the energy from nor envy those lucky to be sitting. Intense beer taste notes, just lacking in food choices to pair them up with. Will definitely be back.
See my full experience on my blog.
Aron / January 18, 2014 at 07:37 pm
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Best pub really??? I don't think this even fits the definition of a pub. Secondly, the beers are horrid - tasteless to be more precise.
Matt / March 6, 2014 at 04:57 pm
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Beer is tasteless... I am guessing you drink coors light, molson canadian, and bud on a regular basis.
Matt replying to a comment from Aron / March 6, 2014 at 04:58 pm
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Beer is tasteless... I am guessing you drink coors light, molson canadian, and bud on a regular basis.
craig replying to a comment from Matt / March 6, 2014 at 04:59 pm
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I had a similar experience!
Lighten up!! / June 3, 2014 at 06:48 pm
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This place has some incredibly pretentious staff, to which I say lighten up and get over yourselves. The stunt you pulled last night with not offering us service (with no real explanation, let alone having the decency to at least have a manager deliver the message) was appalling, and truly embarrassing...for you!

Thanks to your sheer lack of people skills, we walked into Nazare for the first time, and were delighted by the warmth of the people there, and an owner who truly cares about his patrons..a place with some soul. You should take a lesson from that guy.

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