UPstairs Lounge can be found, as its name indicates, on the upper floor of the Union Pearson Express stop located inside the SkyWalk of Union Station.
Like the UP Express stop, it's a Metrolinx facility designed by Zeidler Partnership Architects and Hosoya Schaefer Architects (with branding by Winkreative ), and its look is meant to harken back to the golden age of train travel. The space has a stark, concrete and wood, Scandinavian minimalist feel with neutral tones.
While Balzac's and the Drake General Store kiosks below cover the caffeine and quirky trinkets/souvenirs department, this spot offers alcohol and eats. It's important to note that the lounge is open to the general public and not just passengers waiting to catch the train, and there are even free charging stations along with WiFi (courtesy of CIBC) here.
Since the GO trains are visible from the window in addition to the UP Express ones, this is the perfect place for rail geeks to sit with a beer and watch the trains go by.
Mill St. Brewery developed the menu, so its beers are featured prominently; four draught options ($4.85/12oz glass, $7.50/20oz pint) comprise its Tankhouse Ale, Original Organic Lager, 100th Meridian Amber Lager and a seasonal brew (when we visit it's the Oktoberfest) - an UP Express beer flight ($8.75 for four six-ounce glasses) allows you to sample all four.
There are also tall cans ($8.50 each) from Brickworks Ciderhouse, Underdog Brew House's All or Nothing Hopfenweisse and Lake of Bays' Spark House Red Ale along with other Mill St. beers. Bottles ($5.75) include more Mill St. brews, plus St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale, gluten-free Nickel Brook ($9.50) and non-alcoholic O'Doul's ($6).
A few wines by the glass ($8-$15) or bottle ($32-$45) come from Niagara, Argentina and Italy, while Mill St. has a house-made root beer ($3.50) as its alcohol-free alternative.
Food-wise, fresh-pressed sandwiches served with root vegetable chips ($11-$14) and salads ($10-$12) take up most of the relatively succinct menu, along with a couple of $5 snacks like beer nuts and a bucket of chips.
We try the Jumbo Pretzel ($9), a truly large Bavarian-style salted pretzel served with a tart grainy mustard. It's soft, chewy and goes great with beer, but I'm not sure if it warrants a $9 price tag.
Everything here (except the alcohol) is meant to be suitable for takeout in case customers need to hop on a train, but this is also just a good option for pre- or post-game eating and drinking - it's open 11am-11pm every day.
As the first - and currently the only - licensed establishment connected to Union Station, it's an ideal spot for a pint, whether you're waiting for a passenger or a train yourself, or even if you just find yourself in this otherwise dry area.
Photos by Jesse Milns