Allen’s is a Toronto pub known for its excellent whisky selection and magical back patio complete with gigantic willow trees.
They bring a standard of excellence to pub food, preparing everything on site using local meat and produce.
Indoors it’s all checkered tablecloths and wooden chairs, vintage posters and photos covering the walls. Across from the impressive old school bar with its selection of hundreds of Scottish, Irish, Canadian and American whiskies is a functioning jukebox.
Manhattan capon wings ($12.95) are served with a blue cheese dressing topped with a crumbly heap of straight blue cheese. A capon is apparently a type of rooster bred to be extra tasty, and indeed the wings are juicy and meaty, though the slathering of sticky sauce steals focus.
The wings are super messy so thankfully they come with moist towelettes, the mild sauce more like a BBQ than a hot sauce: sweet, garlicky and thick. The funky, chunky dressing harmonizes well with this, enough to keep any blue cheese lover happy.
Oak-smoked Irish salmon ($15.95) is served with potato cakes, creme fraiche and chives, and has a surprisingly different taste from your average smoked salmon, much more earthy and less sweet, and very smokey. This is complemented by the lightness of the potato cakes and the tang of the creme fraiche.
Burgers (starting at $15.95), the claim to fame here, all start out with a whole Limousin steer picked up fresh each week from Butchers of Distinction. Antibiotic- and hormone-free and only fed hay, alfalfa, barley and grass, the beef is butchered, ground and formed into patties on site.
Aged Ontario cheddar (a dollar extra) enrobes the stout patty, Ontario strip bacon on top for $2.25 extra providing a little more crunch and smokiness. Burgers are all served old school style, toppings and condiments of relish and hot mustard on the side.
A smash burger this ain’t, almost tough to get your mouth around, the meat juicy and pink inside.
A Dublin lamb shank ($17.95) is braised in Guinness, rendering it juicy and incredibly tender, with a depth of flavour thanks to being left on the bone. It’s served with champ, basically an Irish take on mashed potatoes with spring onion.
A Blood Brothers White Lies Golden Sour ($7.35) rounds out a draft menu of traditional and locally brewed craft beers.
Allen’s is named for Joe C. Allen, who opened the original Allen’s on John as well as Orso in the 80s in Toronto.
Several other Joe Allen restaurants are still in operation in New York, Paris and London.