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The Monk's Kettle

Posted by Libby Roach / Reviewed on December 14, 2011 / review policy

Monk's KettleThe Monk's Kettle is a new addition to the bustling Kingsway. Surrounded by charming little restaurants and bars, the Monk's Kettle separates itself from the competition with its extensive and changing beer menu. Not limited to one region, their chalkboard menu spans just about everywhere. With so much time and attention spent on cultivating their beer menu, you can see why their food menu suffers. And by suffer I mean it's bit like torture.

Monk's KettleAfter analyzing the beer menu, I ordered a pint of the Hoptical Illusion, $6.75. The server arched his eyebrows and suggested I may prefer something lighter. Uh, nope. I'm a pretty seasoned beer drinker, and although I neatly fit into the Cosmo demographic, I love beer. I politely told him that I knew what I was ordering and he complied. My partner selected a pint of the Mad Tom, also $6.75, and he basically got a high five for ordering something the waiter liked. Beer flights are also available.

Monk's KettleWhile the pints were pulled, we cruised the menu. Like the beers, it's a bit of a hodgepodge. Finer 'pub' foods like steak and braised meats outnumbered the other more casual ones like a burger and fries. Undecided on which way to go, we finally went for the pub grub to complement our mood (there was a Leaf game playing on the lone TV above the bar).

Monk's KettleWe started off with the bruschetta $10, and the mussels also $10. The bruschetta came two ways, one featuring the traditional tomato/red onion/garlic with the addition of a smear of pesto that was a nice zippy touch. Two other pieces were slathered in cheese and mushrooms, and oh, pesto again. The cheese melted on the mushrooms made them a bit slimy.

Monk's KettleThe mussels on the other hand, were boring. Usually I'm sopping up the sauce, but here it was so bland I got distracted by my tasty beer and gave up. The mussels were cooked properly and the presentation was nice, but the flavours absent, which is odd considering the ingredients: leek, tomato, garlic...I think white wine was mentioned, but certainly wasn't present.

The next course was all a hot mess. Chicken wings (see lead image) at $12 per pound were greasy and crispy on the outside and mushy and greasier on the inside. Served breaded, the first bite was tasty, but trying to eat even a full wing became quickly unappealing.

The sauces served alongside were equally offending- one was a pretty decent hot sauce, the other was a strange mix of sesame oil and soy sauce and the third some strange garlic spread. It was so thick that you couldn't dip your wing in, or else it would pull the breading off. Hey! Wait maybe that would have been a better strategy...

Monk's KettleLast and certainly least, the crab cake. I'm not entirely sure about the crab, or the cake part, but I was glad about one thing, there was only one of them. This one was a soggy mess, covered in a flavourless creamy sauce.

If I were to go back, it would certainly be on a full stomach. Their beer list is excellent, the service, a little slow, and the food — well, I'm still alive.

The Monk'S KettleThe Monks Kettle



Mike / October 26, 2011 at 03:09 pm
I'm going there today, I'll report back later with my review:)
Mike / October 27, 2011 at 01:18 am
I went this evening. Great place, great service, great food and great beer. I'll go again:-)
Dan / December 13, 2011 at 10:44 am
Great beer, awesome selection. The food is utter crap though. You can see what they're trying to do - offer up better food than typical pub fare garbage - but they missed the mark miserably. I may go back for some rare drinks, but I will never order another bite there for as long as it's open.
Toques / December 14, 2011 at 01:30 pm
Question to BlogTO's reviewers- If you're served lousy or sub-par food do you send it back at all or just eat (and review) it as-is?
tony / December 14, 2011 at 01:40 pm
I've been there a number of times since the place opened and have never had a bad meal. To each their own I guess. And yes, they do have a great beer menu and it's a great addition to the neighbourhood.
Japhet / December 14, 2011 at 01:52 pm
What server suggests, without any information from their guest, that said guest would like something lighter? How rude!
Ally / December 14, 2011 at 02:02 pm
Heh, I've gotten that eyebrow raise when I've ordered beers too. Hoptical Illusion is one of my favourites - you've got good taste!
Heather Findlay / December 14, 2011 at 02:11 pm
Completely agree. We went here when it first opened, and the food was much better, but either they've changed cooks or gotten too big to sustain the volume. The food is often cold and bland. Their charcuterie used to be incredible with truffle honey and great cheeses from the cheese boutique, but even that the last three times I had it was terrible- boring cheeses, stale bread, and just some mustard- no fruit garnishes or anything particularly creative. Its a shame- they have amazing beers and bring in some of the really exciting seasonal brews from the states that you can't find elsewhere in TO. We were regulars but we rarely go anymore...
Dennis Marciniak replying to a comment from Toques / December 14, 2011 at 03:35 pm
That's actually a really good question - what would you do in that situation?
Libby / December 14, 2011 at 03:46 pm
@Toques- For me personally, I used to waitress and bartend and steps of service dictate you go and check on the table and make sure the food is all coming out okay. Server did not do that, and cleared our plates with loads of the food still there, and didn't even ask. I guess I take the don't ask don't tell approach. Nothing would have saved it in my opinion!
Beer insurgent / December 14, 2011 at 05:42 pm
Been there a couple times now and enjoyed it. The far west end of TO doesn't always have much for pubs beyond the assembly-line McFirkin variety so one with knowledgeable beer is a plus. Only tried the fries (they were great) so I can't speak for the food but the beer was great and the staff was very friendly. Great little place.
CT / December 14, 2011 at 11:17 pm
It's a Craft Beer rather then a Gastro Pub...so def go for the beer selection first and food second!
mary / December 15, 2011 at 12:40 am
BlogTo restaurant appraisals/reviews are brutal! Editors: you need to employ higher standards for your writing staff/freelancers.
Dan / December 15, 2011 at 08:30 am
Hey Mary, have you dined at Monk's? From my experience, I think the reviewer was being very kind. She never even mentioned the flies, present every single time I've been there. Perhaps it was too cold when she went there.

Everyone knows the food is crap there. Go for the beer!
Peter / December 15, 2011 at 11:49 am
I've been to this bar a couple times (Its just around the corner from where I live). Quick thoughts: nice upscale interior, great beer selection, friendly staff. very good dinners, expensive food. I was a bit surprised by this review, but have not tried the regular pub fare, and as someone else noted, maybe the quality has degraded with some recent changes.

The Monk's Kettle has been a great addition to the area. I really hope they can get it together with regard to their food offering. While the economics likely favour them offering high-priced dinners, I'd much rather have less expensive but high quality appetizers to provide at least some nourishment while enjoying great beers.

zed / December 21, 2011 at 03:42 pm
some information on where it's located would be helpful
John / December 24, 2011 at 03:34 pm
I have been there a half dozen times. The beer selection is awesome. The bartender Mick is very knowledgeable and is happy to offer his opinion. Now the food..... I want to like it but the menu is a mess. There are some stellar items like the Tempura shrimp, the burger,and the fries. I liked the wings but I think the the sauce in ramekins are stupid and the only good one is the hot sauce. What is with that oil dip??

The prices are the high end of my comfort level. I find the wait staff efficient and friendly but the two owners are curmudgeons. They ony time they have said a word to me was to ask for a donation to a fund raiser. I want them to succeed but they need some fine tuning
Marie / January 1, 2012 at 11:06 am
I've been to this pub several times and thoroughly enjoy the charcuterie board and burger. The gnocchi is excellent too. I'm very surprised to hear someone say they're 'still alive' or 'go on a full stomach' after sampling the food at this pub. The Monk's Kettle is easily a step ahead of the other pub/restaurants in the area.
Anita / January 10, 2012 at 12:43 pm
The food was great and the staff were really nice. Place is really chilled out. I worked as a server at a top ten restaurant in Melbourne and I have no complaints about either food or service. Definitely one of my favourite spots since coming home!
Bullit / October 25, 2012 at 07:42 am
Beer is good but food is sub par. Better just to make the trip to Brydens a few subway stops away.
Matt / July 1, 2015 at 09:51 am
Went here last night and they have obviously re done their food program. The wings are no longer breaded and were some of the best that I have had in Toronto. Other highlights included the Grilled Calamari and the risotto croquette's. Fish Tacos were ok. Comfortable setting with decent service as well. The restaurant was full and 2 bartenders managed to keep the pace of service up for the whole 40 person restaurant. All in all a very good experience.

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