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Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on May 14, 2013 / review policy

Mcgugans TorontoMcgugan's Fine Scottish Pub at Gerrard at Jones enriches Leslieville with a handsome outpost for Highland flavours and libations. The trio of owners includes chef Bryan Burke and husband and wife team, Ted and Mary (maiden name McGugan) Koutsogiannopoulos, who also own two adjacent restaurants; the Great Burger Kitchen and Aprile Bambina Cucina.

Mcgugans TorontoSwaths of deep red, exposed brick and dark wood furnishings play into the traditional pub setting though there's nary a tartan in sight. The bar upfront is stocked with 12 taps of craft or Scottish beers, as well as 50 or so single malts, including some quite rare bottles of Dun Bheagan and a chocolatey Glengoyne.

If you don't know where to start, try one of feature drams or ask Ivan behind the bar for a recommendation and watch his face light up as he speaks passionately on the subject.

On the menu are the usual suspects of Scottish fare offered as bite sized morsels for sharing. There's battered Haggis Balls ($5.95) with hot mustard and single malt aioli, as well as, Scotch Eggs ($8.95) with brown sauce.

Though I have no complaints, I'm intrigued to hear talk of changing up the egg dish in time for summer to a lighter, unfried deconstructed variation.

Mcgugans TorontoThe signature dish is the McGugan's Beef Sammie ($9.95), featuring shaved roast beef over slabs of Yorkshire pudding, topped with rich brown gravy and horseradish mayo.

Mcgugans TorontoThe Fish & Chips ($14.95) is the clear favourite at my table. Commendable for its golden, stout battered exterior that is remarkably crisp while the inside is delicately flaky and moist. Along with generous sides of fries and red cabbage slaw paired up with a pint of Tennent's lager make for a super satisfying combination.

Mcgugans TorontoIn addition to the spacious back patio, there's also a roof top patio and second floor dining room dubbed 'the kilt' that hosts weekly events like board game nights, comedy shows and tutored scotch tastings. Of course the joke is that everything on the first floor (including live music on Fridays) happens under 'the kilt'.

Mcgugans TorontoPhotos by Morris Lum



Robert / May 14, 2013 at 01:03 pm
I'll try it out but I'm getting a bit fed up with $15 fish n chips that have only one piece of fish. I don't care if the coleslaw is made of organic cabbage flown in from the Highlands on a private jet, I reckon a dish this size should be a few dollars less. Period.
Erin / May 14, 2013 at 08:07 pm
Went there for brunch, whilst trying to impress my sister and her Glaswegian bf. Was not impressed. Service was very friendly, but not the best. And the food was bland, "not haggis" and overpriced. It wasn't the worst, just not as delicious as the pictures would imply.
Richard Menzies / May 14, 2013 at 08:24 pm
This place is a themed Scottish Pub....a bit of a joke I would say....the bartender is in a cheap kilt and I would say he is Russian.....he knows nothing i mean nothing about malts...places like this see real pubs and think they can be the same by having a Scottish flag out front. The entire menu had been stolen from The Caledonian....which is s real Scottish Pub with great food owed by a not waste your time on this themed cookie cutter Strip Mall pub....oh ya and Scottish people are referred to as Scots not Scotch you moron bartender!
Mike / May 14, 2013 at 11:08 pm
Why all the hate? I've been to this place and though, I wasn't impressed (why would anyone expect to be impressed with a bar...), I certainly don't think it deserves to be lambasted for these rediculous issues most of these commenters have. It's just a pub. A good local spot for those in the area to catch a pint while and unwind on occasion. No reason to troll, guys...
Positivland / May 14, 2013 at 11:49 pm
I've been to this place probably 20 times, and yeah, it's a bit of a goofy place. There was a bartender there last year who was a real piece of work, but he's long gone. The current one, Ivan, is a bit of a dork, but he's harmless. And that goes for everyone who's working there these days. They seem like good people who work hard. So what if the bartender doesn't know as much about scottish culture as you do, join the human race and display a bit of decency. I mean you, Richard Menzies. It's just a neighbourhood bar. Get a life.
Cloudy / May 16, 2013 at 02:28 pm
Ivan is great. Always remembers me no matter how long between visits and has even given me a drink here and there.

The new patio looks great and we had a nice evening there. Excited about the rooftop. Nice trees in the back, good design and open air.

When this pub first opened, the food was pretty stellar but it has fluctuated due to changing kitchen staff. The very first few meals were exceptional. I had the fish and chips and we all agreed they were delicious. The burger was great. The haggis balls were my favourite. The wings are always too charred. I had a curry there on red rice that was insane but they've since gotten rid of it. The beef sammie was very good for the first while until they switched to a different cut of beef and added a soggy lettuce leaf (see above). The beet salad was fantastic until the portion changed, they changed it to some processed cheese and the chef cut the beets into little cubes. I also had a trout there and it was actually pretty fantastic. Juicy, great sides and presentation.

The last time I got my favourite, the Ploughman's platter. They ran out of cheese, didn't have the haggis balls and there's no longer a rillette in a mason jar (that they let me take home to finish). I'm not sure why they keep screwing with the menu.

So I think when they figure out their menu and solidify their choices, it'll do much better. You alienate locals when you keep revamping over and over. I can easily just go to Ceili's, Morgan's or even Chinatown for a beer and cheap eats.

But I have zero complaints about Ivan so not sure about the vitriol. The service has NEVER been bad and I've definitely been here over 15 times.

I like that they have Innis & Gunn on tap. Anyway, I'm rooting for them as they've become a very friendly neighbourhood bar with some kinks to iron out.

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