The East End has become a beer drinkers paradise over the last few years. Roughly within the boundaries of Gerrard, Coxwell, Queen and Broadview there are at least EIGHT breweries operating right now! Having eight breweries all within a very walkable distance makes this the ideal situation for a marathon of a brewery crawl but for now we'll just focus on the newest addition battling for you beer money.
The freshest entry in the already stacked East End beer scene is Avling Kitchen & Brewery. This incredibly ambitious brewpub pairs experimental beers with a very seasonal menu and on top of that, they add farm fresh ingredients...and I mean literally on top, they have created a rooftop garden to provide seasonal veggies and herbs for both their food and their brews.
The space is very different compared to a lot of brewpubs around the city. It's huge, airy and colourful. When visiting during the day, sunshine streams in from a wall of windows that look onto Queen Street. Another set of windows separate the tap room from the brewing area that is also flooded with sunlight from a couple of massive skylights. The pastel shaded abstract murals along the walls add to the overall cheeriness and positive vibe of the place. In the evenings the house lights are dimmed and candles illuminate the tables and bar area.
You can tell it's a really nice looking spot because I normally barely care about decor and I just spent a whole paragraph going off about how nice this place looks...so ya they did a great job with the interior here!
More importantly the beers we sampled here were all very good with a few standouts. The Calm Seas Pale Ale was light and refreshing with some really nice fruit flavours, mainly pineapple. Their Saison had a nice citrus and slight sourness going for it and their Pilsner was everything I want in a Pilsner with just the perfect amount of bitterness. They don't offer flights on the menu but if they are not too busy you can order a few sample size pours for a makeshift flight.
Their main menu (available after 5pm) focuses on local seasonal items. I love a good charcuterie board so their Ploughmans Platter was an easy choice. An incredible selection of pickled vegetables pair great with the smoked salmon and cured meats that are made in house.
Tiny edible flowers from the rooftop garden were sprinkled around the board and they added more than just some colour. They had a peppery flavour and provided some heat to the platter.
I had heard that the Turnip Cake was a must try dish here and I'll admit, I was sceptical. I mean how good could a turnip cake be? Well it can be really really good when it's garlicky, and fried and covered in buttermilk ranch, chilli oil and fresh chives, dill and basil.
If they're not too busy when you visit ask for a quick tour of the rooftop garden. One of the servers should be able to take you up for quick look and it is really impressive.
They have a full time gardener on staff but some of the servers also tend to the rooftop crops. They will spend the first few hours of their shift in the garden before heading down to the tap room. It sounds likes a pretty unique mix of duties.
There are even talks about the possibility of adding some patio space to the roof in the future and I really hope that comes to fruition somewhere down the line. Sipping a pint of their Pilsner in this urban oasis on a sunny Summer day sounds like the perfect afternoon to me.
Next time you're in the area and in need of a pint, definitely give Avling a look. They are doing more than enough to stand out and impress in the crowded Toronto craft beer scene.
Avling Kitchen & Brewery
1042 Queen Street East, Toronto, ON