The Peacock Public House
Seeking to transform the previous project in the same space (Mad Crush Wine Bar) the original idea was to call the place Pigeon in homage to the birds that populate College Street, but the more regal Peacock was settled on.
The original Mad Crush layout hasn’t been toyed with too much, a skylight above the bar still the highlight of the interior. A curtain now separates the front bar and a back area.
An upper floor with a stage is open to public dining, a small stage able to host anything from comedy shows to intimate music acts, the space actually totally soundproof.
A scotch egg ($7) is wrapped in a very fennel-forward house pork sausage with a thin crispy coating, soft cooked and served traditionally with Branson pickle, a very tangy English condiment.
A selection of toasts includes roast garlic button mushroom and Stilton ($9) topped with rich creme fraiche that melts into the veg and a “La Sauvagine” with house lardons, walnuts and honey. Most are on thickly sliced Blackbird sourdough.
Larger fare includes house bangers and mash ($19) with sweet and aromatic shallot gravy. A textbook rendition of the classic, the potatoes are airy and the Stilton and peppercorn sausage is hearty.
Atlantic haddock and chips ($19) are served with classic mushy peas and a viscous house tartar, the giant fish fillet battered in a light and crunchy Steamwhistle and vinegar batter and sprinkled with a few flakes of Maldon salt.
A daily pie special usually runs around $20 - $25, today’s a turkey and pea suet pudding that’s kind of like a giant Thanksgiving dumpling. The crust is incredibly soft, fatty and buttery, the whole thing sitting on a bed of roasted kale.
A leek and stilton tart ($17) is a vegetarian entree option, the menu here actually about 40 per cent meat-free.
Peacock prides themselves on stocking an impressively wide range of craft beer brands both on tap and in a huge can and bottle fridge, which includes more artisanal offerings like Burdock’s Tuesday, Whip and Squints from Left Field, and Godspeed’s Yuzu. However, you’ll find them here at a lower markup than nearby beer bars like Birreria Volo.
Mad Crush Wine Bar was itself already a reinvention of the original Mad Crush location on King, so this makeover into a more casual business as Peacock is just another step in the evolution of Toronto’s bar scene, and owner Jamieson Kerr’s solid position in it. Peacock also does English-inspired brunch on weekends.