Victorian Monkey is a pub with a decidedly steampunk vibe filled with tons of knick-knacks and little games from that era, serving a range of standard beers and cocktails along with frequent pub food specials.
Expect items like parm wings, technicolour girly drinks and curries from the team that once owned quarter-century-old British pub Bishop and the Belcher, Jen Gill and Anita Upenieks.
Upenieks herself made the taps behind the bar out of an old pump organ from 1810.
Gill framed every picture and installed every lamp, those that are hanging and those shaped like monkeys that line the bar, and also makes all the sauces.
All this gives the place an obsessive but beloved feel.
There are also more modern touches like dart boards, shuffleboard, trivia games and Trouble.
Cabo Wabo fish tacos ($14.95) are stuffed with beer battered haddock and a crunchy kale slaw and drizzled with one of those house sauces, an ancho chipotle aioli, served with house chopped salsa and house guac. They’re $10.95 on their Mexican night.
Parmesan garlic chicken wings ($12.95) taste like garlic bread and a chicken wing had a baby. It’s pretty potent but the flavour is addictive, and blue cheese or house ranch cools the intense garlic. Other wing flavours include bourbon BBQ and dry cajun rub.
A Thai coconut curry chicken bowl ($14.95) is essentially a basic pub take on khao soi. The veggies are pretty soft for my liking, but the seasoning is pretty bang on and I don’t think anyone would be unsatisfied with this if they were looking for something balanced.
An epic Caesar comes garnished with a thick wedge of cucumber, lemon, pickled bean, celery stick and a cute mini bottle of Tobasco.
The Blue Hawaiian ($9.95) is appropriately girly, blended, and retro, the kind of thing your mom orders on your birthday and a way better version of Blue Lagoons I tried to make with curacao from my parents’ liquor cabinet. Cream of coconut, pineapple juice, blue curacao and white rum bring the tropical vibes to Scarborough.
This comfortable pub is surely a godsend for this somewhat desolate Bluffs neighbourhood, reliable for satisfying eats, and certain to provide a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere within its capacious, warm, quirky space.