Pour Boy

Pour Boy is what you might expect from a longstanding Annex pub. Except that it's not exactly in the Annex, and it's only been around for a few months. This Koreatown spot popped up just North of Bloor on Manning this summer. It's not a surprise that the place was packed during my visit, even for a Monday afternoon, as it seems to have cracked the success formula for Annex (and fringe-Annex) watering holes - cheap, dark, and unpretentious. But, it's not luck. Just after my date commented that the place felt like The Green Room, we discovered that it shares the same owners.

This year, businesses along Bloor between Spadina and Bathurst have been dropping like flies (T-cafe, Organics on Bloor, All Things Tea, to name a few), but in a student-rich 'hood like the Annex, you can't go wrong with comfort food and budget-friendly beer. The area's pubs are holding strong. Just beyond the Annex border, Pour Boy set up shop away from the crush. It was a smart move.

The space has of the intimate and eclectic vibe of The Green Room but on a much smaller scale, and seems poised to absorb Clinton's overflow. A roomy second floor handles peak hours, but I am more partial to the tiny main floor. Mismatched chairs and tables seat just over a dozen people against a backdrop of hodge-podge art and old European fixtures. It's cozy, and dare I say even romantic.

Menu-wise, Pour Boy is a bit confused. Standard pub fare is joined by Asian-inspired rolls, Indian entrees, Mexican staples, pastas and brunch. I am reluctant to criticize the food (which was only mediocre) because it was just so darn cheap. At less than $7 for entrees, I suppose you get what you pay for. My grilled cheese sandwich was pretty typical - factory bread and wimpy cheese - and needed a good dousing in ketchup. And I'm not even a huge ketchup fan. The soup special was cream of broccoli and was decent but also nothing remarkable. However, at $4.95 for the combo, it was a pretty substantial lunch that kicks fast-food butt any day.

My date chose the udon chicken stir-fry, dismissing my skepticism for stir-frys prepared in a pub. For $6.95, the plate was impressively heaped with sautĂŠed fresh veggies, fat noodles and an ample serving of chicken. The udon, though, was a tad sticky and the sauce had that generic flavour of some bottled teriyaki-type sauces. We agreed that while the food wasn't spectacular, we were happy to leave warm and full-bellied for less than $25 including wine, tax and tip.

Despite two pages of more-than-cheap eats, the food isn't why I'll be back. It's the budget friendly booze that warrants repeat business. A pint of draught will run you $4.50, and offerings include premium local beers like Mill Street Organic. The weekly feature (this week was Pabst) is even more enticing, at $3.95. In my student days, I would have had a regular table at Pour Boy, and the Ryerson students next to us were already staking their claim.

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