Pubs are a British institution and going down the local to watch footie over a pint is one of the top ten things expats miss about home. If you’re one of the many who fear that swilling beer and singing the national anthem is beyond your reach, think again. Here’s our pick of the best British pubs in Canada.
The Spitfire Arms
The tagline for the Spitfire Arms is ‘Not just a Pub – It’s a place of remembrance’ and it really is. It’s a pub where you can sit back, enjoy a good beer and remember rainy-but-brilliant Britain in comfort. The Spitfire Arms considers itself one of the most authentic British Alehouses across the pond, stocking a variety of favourite Blighty beers and ciders. It also caters for the more adventurous expat with some fantastic local brews like Propeller Porter. The food is great and every dish on the Best of Britain menu, from Cockney Fish & Chips to Cottage Pie, comes with a side of nostalgia. With live music and events across most weekends this is a place to party as well as have a quiet drink.
The Penny Farthing
The Penny Farthing promises a warm welcome, a good time and an English pub experience. It delivers on all levels. The bar has been made up to resemble a Victorian Inn, with dark wood panelling, William Morris tiles, old fashioned drink signs, stained glass and imposing fireplaces. A weird and wonderful collection of Victorian era memorabilia completes the unique look. The pub even has a games room if, after several pints, playing darts seems like a good idea. Although they do stock imported booze, like Tetley’s, the pub really showcases the best beverages Victoria has to offer. On the menu British classics like the Sunday Roast vie with Canadian favourites (like deep fried mac n’ cheese) and world foods, making the whole thing delightfully chaotic.
The Firkin Group
Including: Friar & Firkin, Toronto
Crown in Firkin, Whitby
Lion & Firkin, Newmarket
The Firkin Group advertise their extensive collection of British bars using slightly frightening mock Victorian illustrations, but don’t let that put you off. The Firkin Group is the most rampant chain of British pubs in Canada, with over 30 premises to their name. No matter where in Canada you end up there’s bound to be one within striking distance, all proclaiming to be a home away from home. Although each pub is tailored to its neighbourhood the drinks and food served up are universal. Despite the very British decor of the Firkin Group pubs, the vast majority of beers and ales on offer are brewed in Canada (though it has to be said they’re still pretty good). They do of course stock the staples of any pub with British pretentions – Strongbow, Guinness and Kilkenny. The must try meal on the menu is the ‘spuds n’ sauce’ which is an interesting take on the classic Canadian dish poutine. Fries, cheese curds and Guinness gravy might sound disgusting but…
The Old English Pub
The emphasis of the Old English Pub is on jolly good food, jolly good beer and jolly good fun. The moment you step inside you get transported to an old-fashioned, comforting Blighty. The typically pubby wallpaper is adorned with framed shots of English landscapes whilst a stately portrait and ornate clock dominates the mantel piece. The Old English Pub serves a variety of draught beers but the speciality scotch menu is the real draw for anyone really missing the taste of home. The menu of pies, burgers and stodgy deserts (think bread and butter pudding) is also pretty tempting. Live music, usually in the form of acoustic guitarists and singers, attracts locals and expats alike.
Elephant and Castle
The Elephant and Castle in Vancouver has been open since 1977 (though it may have moved locations once or twice). It was to become the first successful British pub in a chain of twenty owned by the same company. The owners attribute the success of their pubs to ‘Bang on food, Bang on drinks, and Bang on service’. Oh, and a love of beer. The pub chain’s name is based on an entirely made up British legend to do with King Charles I, the ‘Cockneys of London’ and a rather peeved princess. On both the food and drink menus Canadian classics are served up alongside the best of British, and everything comes wrapped in true pub comfort.