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Restaurants

The Caledonian

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on April 16, 2013 / review policy

Caledonian TorontoThe Caledonian is what all Scottish pubs ought to be; charming, warm and true to its heritage. Full blooded Scottish owners, Donna and David Wolff offer a warm hospitality that seems as much an import as is the nation's worth of Scotch Whiskys behind the bar. Regulars are greeted by name and the Wolff's effortlessly introduce seatmates to each other and will even get conversations rolling amongst strangers.

Caledonian TorontoThe pub serves as a beacon for expats and travelers (Belle & Sebastian stops in when they're in town) looking for familiar comforts of home. The handsome interior is filled with hand milled wood furnishings, a fireplace, books and all sorts of ephemera imported from across the pond.

Caledonian TorontoFull disclosure, I've been here before, (many times in fact) but embarrassingly, I've never had the nerve to try the Haggis ($16). Something about its description; savoury lamb and oat pudding cooked in a sheep's stomach lining has never really appealed to me. And though I have no basis for comparison, I suspect this is the place for the uninitiated to try it. The Caledonian serves up 50-60lbs each week, peaking the week of Robbie Burns, when they do more like 500lbs.

Caledonian TorontoOn this most recent visit, I've been coaxed into ordering it (how could I do The Caledonian any justice by excluding it?) and am surprised when the beautiful dish is set before me. The casing is removed before plating and it's piled high on a mound of neeps and tatties (turnips and potato mash) and garnished with parsnip chips. Oh, and it's delicious too. Not all that unlike kishka, and dare I say familiar even after a few years of developing a taste for offal?

For those still timid, The Taste of Scotland ($16) offers a more compact introduction. Served on a sharable board, bite-sized fried haggis fritters, sausage rolls and a Scotch egg are accompanied by mustard and gravy for dipping.

Caledonian TorontoFrom the menu of starters, the Ardbeg Smoked Salmon ($12) is one of few lighter plates. The fish, smoked in house, sits on a potato and avocado salad dressed with dill, capers and chopped red onion and drizzled with a mustard vinaigrette.

Caledonian TorontoWhile the menu takes advantage of locally sourced products, it stays true to its Scottish heritage with only a few liberties. For example, I'm told that salad isn't really typical of most Highlander diets, but on this menu, the Roasted Heirloom Beet and Feta Salad ($9) is a lovely example that utilizes root vegetables that would be native to the British Isles.

Caledonian TorontoThe bar menu is an expat's dream, flush with almost 200 bottles of malt whiskys and Scottish draught beers -- some are even exclusive to this North American location alone. Though there's seemingly always a reason to celebrate (made up or not), tasting events hosted by distillers have proved especially popular. The monthly Women & Whisky nights have sold out steadily since their inception.

The patio tucked in the back is a hidden gem that I'm reluctant to share. It's thoughtfully landscaped and offers ample seating in both sun and shade, not to mention the Scottish themed decor is carried out in full force back here too.

Caledonian TorontoThe Caledonian is open for drinks and dinner starting at 4 or 5pm week round.

Photos by Morris Lum

Discussion

24 Comments

Wee Laddie / January 13, 2011 at 07:19 pm
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Incredible food here, no deep fried nonsense. Scotch eggs, steak frites and awesome specials. Wicked scotch selection, Scottish beers, what promises to be one of the best back patios in town and a very comfortable room - oh and great service too.

It's what other pubs should try to be.
ParkheadPrince / January 14, 2011 at 03:56 am
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Haggis is a bit underwhelming, breakfast-style fried slices that are too dry and crisp, though the flavour is spot-on. Hard to complain with such a nice staff and atmosphere though.
Adam Brown / February 1, 2012 at 09:57 am
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We offer the Markelov`s simulator ! This electric massager is a result of long-term research in the sphere of
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Lass / February 3, 2012 at 06:23 pm
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This was my first visit. The atmosphere was good; I found it warm and inviting.
The food was tasty, but I wanted to have the fish and chips and when I asked if there was gravy the waitress said "no gravy" yet there was gravy on the Haggis dish that my friend had. Ok I can accept there is no gravy to dip my fries in but when it came the dessert and she informed me there was no stickie pudding that was ok. So I asked for ice cream which was on the menu. She told me there was "no ice cream", so what was left was the Mars bar or the apple pie(which was not on the Menu), which I decided to go for the apple pie. Well to my surprise my friend and I got our dessert and what was on the plate besides Mars bar and apple pie, you got it ICE CREAM.
I will try this place again, hoping that they will get gravy on their menu and if you say you do not have it don’t bring it out on another entrée or dessert. It’s worth a second try.
James / February 26, 2012 at 05:06 pm
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I was there last night, I am over from Scotland on business and was looking for a fun night and found this great pub and have never felt so at home so far away. The haggis is the best I have tried outside Scotland so well done. Donna, David and their team make you feel so at home.
Sarah / May 22, 2012 at 08:07 pm
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Love this restaurant! The fish and chips are very tasty and the service is amazing. They also have a great back patio, too!
Tim Mitchell / October 13, 2012 at 12:36 pm
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Terrific pub. Excellent selection of scotch, and great food specials. Welcoming, friendly staff. Worth the visit. I need to go back.
Doug P / February 5, 2013 at 07:21 pm
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LOVE THIS PLACE! This place is amazing, the food is unreal....i mean it is high end resto quality....a real Scottish Pub.....its the real deal!
Rico replying to a comment from Doug P / February 6, 2013 at 08:18 am
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Great place. Scotch Egg is English though.
KiwiAnne / April 15, 2013 at 05:52 pm
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The Caledonian is SERIOUS about their whiskies. The owners, Donna and David, are friendly and passionate about their Scottish whiskies. They have over 150 malts and blends available and even a rare bottle of whisky that goes for $200 per oz! Insanity. At least you know they're packing quality stuff here.

There's a "Taste of Scotland" whisky tasting experience happening on May 4th @ 5pm to 7pm: http://experiences.joylister.com/experiences/scotch-tasting-caledonian/

You get to try a whisky from each of the regions of Scotland and Donna herself is leading the tasting. Definitely a great way to learn and appreciate more about whisky.

I haven't tried the food yet but that'll be the next thing on my list.
Todd / April 16, 2013 at 01:20 pm
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Wasn't too impressed... too pricy for what you receive. The haggis was the best thing I had.

The burger was bone dry ground chuck with a kaiser (!!!) from No Frills (!!!).
Sara B / April 16, 2013 at 02:39 pm
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Their Burger is amazing! I eat here 2 times a week and I always get their burger....it is a fresh 1/2 pound made in house burger...and the bun I know for a fact comes from Ace....because I asked if they made it is house cause I loved it so much...me thinks this Todd owns the pub down the street
Abstracteden / April 16, 2013 at 02:39 pm
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The Caledonian is a "godsent" to Scottish people in this city. It is full of true Scottish flavours and atmosphere. I have been there several times and introduced many friends to its charm.
Donna is an amazing host. She is always mingling with her guests and asks your name when she takes a drink order to refer to it when asking if you need a refill. I have travelled to Scotland and believe it's a great testament to it's hospitality and underrated cuisine!
Sophia / April 16, 2013 at 02:51 pm
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Not to shit on what looks like a nice place with great food, but I like my pluck and oats no-frills, fried up next to some clapshot, and I'd like the price to reflect its humble origins as a way to use up otherwise inedible scraps. Vertical plating and garnish makes it look to me like its wearing a costume.
Johnny Wholesome / April 16, 2013 at 03:24 pm
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Never, ever comment on reviews, but the Caledonian is fantastic enough to make an exception. Absolutely the best pub in the city, unreal drink selection and great food to boot...and as someone who has worked in the industry here in Toronto for 15 years, I can honestly say the Caledonian is as well-run as you're going to find--friendly, accomodating and warm.
Todd replying to a comment from Sara B / April 16, 2013 at 03:30 pm
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*sigh*

It can't ever be an honest review, there has to be some agenda, right?

Maybe they normally come from Ace, but the one I received was definitely from No Frills. I should know... I've been shopping there for 20+ years.
Todd / April 16, 2013 at 03:31 pm
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I forgot to mention that service is great and the room is warm and inviting. Kudos for that.
EricM replying to a comment from Adam Brown / April 16, 2013 at 03:56 pm
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...wow... thanks Adam Spam
Ken / April 16, 2013 at 10:38 pm
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Was here on New Year's Eve, and tried their haggis, scotch eggs, haggis fritters, and fish'n'chips. Really liked the food, plan on going back and taking proper photos of the dishes. Great first introduction to haggis, though I think the haggis dish is almost too filling (likewise the fish/chips).
Chris Orbz / April 17, 2013 at 12:56 am
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Anyone who is actually going out specifically for Scotch should be going to Via Allegro in Etobicoke above anywhere else in the city. But there is of course the unfortunate downside of having to basically go to Mississauga in the process.
Bruce replying to a comment from Wee Laddie / April 17, 2013 at 10:29 am
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It is one of the best pubs in town and the food is possibly the best, but I should point out that Scotch Eggs and the fries with the steak are, of course, deep fried. They would both taste very odd if they were not.
George / April 17, 2013 at 04:39 pm
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This review fails to mention the number one draw (for me at least, being a native Scot) which is the availability of cold cans of imported Irn-Bru. Made in Scotland from girders!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9UprxM_aBWk
Pete Curran / April 18, 2013 at 04:53 pm
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This is an amazing place period. The best service in the city bar none. The owner is Scottish, the bartenders are Scottish....they have like 200 malts and all their food in Scottish and absolutely amazing...You want Scottish beer, food and whisky...GO HERE!
Marek W / April 20, 2013 at 03:53 pm
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One of my favourite places, great people work here and the food is wonderful!

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