If there's one idea that you'll get tired of reading from me over the next month it's that beer and food make excellent partners. It used to be that beer was for docks, patios, and the front porch on a hot day and by meal time it was expected that a switch would be made to wine. Both because beers have become more varied and interesting and just because we're generally less orthodox about what we drink when I think it's time to change that. For this year's 30 Days of Ontario Beer we're again going to focus on great places around Toronto to eat while enjoying craft beer.
In 2011 we balanced our food-and-beer scene coverage between new spots and old favourites. (We made stops at C'est What & The Rhino, Bar Volo, Allen's on the Danforth, and Hardy's.) In fact, this series will be the only one that is more or less unchanged in structure from last year.
I'm going to start the first full day with an old favourite but with a twist. Smokeless Joe has moved from the entertainment district up to College and Bathurst. More importantly, that means it left behind it's unique, below-grade space that was a cozy date spot for some but a bit on the crowded and cramped side for others. The new location is larger and offers tables and seats at the bar. The main room fills with sunlight from the south-facing windows and they've also added a garden patio to the back.
When I visited last week the beer list had almost completed its conversion from winter-early-spring to early summer.
The draught card is an obviously highly-curated one that includes highlights like the Pilsner from King, Boneshaker IPA from Amsterdam, and Hawaiian-style Pale Ale from Spearhead. Each Sunday they tap a cask to add to the selection until it runs out. The Ontario pints were all $7.25 each. Those from elsewhere range from $6.95 to $8.75.
The food slants heavily to the Maritime with a particular focus on oysters and mussels. I was very happy to find my all-time favourite Colville Bays (PEI, $3.75) join St. Simon (NB, $2.75) on the oyster list.
Even after moving to a new and different space on College West, Smokeless Joe has preserved it's essential characteristic of focusing on craft beer paired with light food and great service.
488 College Street, Toronto
Written by David Ort
As one of Spotlight’s contributing editors, David enjoys turning his mind (and keyboard) to a wide variety of topics ranging from recipes to restaurants to craft beer. When he’s not writing for Spotlight Toronto, David shares his thoughts on new restaurants and beer at PostCity.com and all things food and drink on his own site, Food With Legs.