Tucked away in a non-descript corner of the university, the Graduate Students' Union (GSU) Pub is found on the first floor of the GSU building. The building, an old house, survived the construction of the Earth Sciences complex in the 1990s, and retains its original character. The pub itself is the old front parlour of the house, dominated by the bar on the north wall and a large, decorative fire place on the west wall. It’s not the biggest space and it looks somewhat worn but it is homey and not without its charms.
The bar is stocked with five different beers on tap, including a house lager, Red Leaf Lager, Creemore, Granite Bitter, and Mill Street Organic. The last two are premium choices, but the Creemore is the most expensive. The house lager is everything you might want in a draft beer on a warm day: clear, refreshing, and it goes down easy. There is also a good selection of more exotic beers in cans and bottles, including several imports.
The GSU pub is open from noon to midnight, Monday to Friday. Be warned: it is not open on the weekends (although it is available to rent for private parties). It's not a great place to get something to eat, but the bar is stocked with chips and peanuts, and offers some hot food (pizza, roti, etc.) at very reasonable prices. You might want to check out the cafe on the second floor if hunger strikes.
The best thing about the GSU Pub is that it is out of the way, and, especially during the day, a great place to have a conversation and debrief after a gruelling seminar. There is also a pool table, and the bar offers patrons free pool at selected times. With a very pleasant atmosphere and relatively inexpensive prices (good for a professional student’s budget), the GSU Pub is both well worth the effort to find and, as it is open to the whole U of T community, a wonderful asset to campus life.
- Gord Brown
Looking for a cozier, classier atmosphere to get your boozin' on? Then the Arbor Room at Hart House is just the place for you. Located in the basement of the historic Hart House building, the Arbor Room features plenty of seating, a full service bar, and some of the best food you can find on campus. Sammy’s Student Exchange offers great internationally-themed meals, made to order, or prepackaged to go, and is a refreshing change from most of UofT’s oncampus eateries (sid’s café…im looking at you). In addition to a great meal, you can also catch some awesome music acts for free every Thursday and Friday night. The Arbor Room has hosted a variety of great Toronto-based bands such as Ohbijou, the super fun Henri Fabergé and his gang of Adorables and also punk bands such as Crookedhook and Permanent Bastards. There’s also their regular programming with Run with the Kittens playing the first Thursday of every month, a host of great jazz artists every Friday, and an open mic night the last Thursday of every month. And…there’s also a full service bar.
For more info on menus Sammy’s Student exchange visit http://www.sammysstudentexchange.com/SSX/Home.html.
For music listings, check out http://www.harthousemusic.com/.
- Mnrup Virk
The Friday afternoon beer bash has a long and storied tradition in the world of professional engineering. It is very much within this tradition that every Friday, EngSoc hosts its own beer bash, fittingly called Suds.
Suds is found deep in the bowels of the Sandford Fleming Building, in an area quaintly referred to as the Atrium. During the week, it is a central (and generally crowded) public space where students hang out between classes and visit or do homework. Fridays, it is the place where Engineering students hang out for the pre-pub pub experience with inexpensive drinks, both beer and mixed drinks. Food, that is pizza, is also available. And, it is rumoured that non-engineering students and engineering alumni are also known to show up on occasion.
Suds is open 3 p.m. to approximately 8 p.m., as noted on Fridays but also special occasions such as F!rosh week, Godiva week and the last day of classes in each term. Despite the reputation of engineering students for rowdiness (why is it that Filmore’s bans hard hats again?), Suds’ location in the middle of an academic building and its relatively early hours actually makes it somewhat sedate, more a gentlemen’s club than a night club. On the other hand, it’s a great place to see and be seen and engineering students swear it’s also a great place to meet people and make new friends.
- Gord Brown
Blink Duck Pub
The Blind Duck Pub occupies a huge block of The Student Centre at UTM. Given its massive size (there’s even a stage!), it lacks the coziness and slight shabbiness you’d expect from a collegial watering hole. With long tables, high ceilings, and an expansive patio area, it looks more like a modern beer hall than a quaint university pub.
Nevertheless, the low-key space attracts crowds of students who come for a quiet drink or a chat with friends. “It’s turned into a place that’s sort of chill and where people can hang out between classes,” said Drish Bajaj, the pub’s supervisor.
The Blind Duck also plays venue to pub nights every Thursday, which feature live bands. Sometimes, clubs rent out the space for dances. Bajaj tells me the acts frequently fill the pub’s 500-person capacity. This year’s final pub is March 25 and DY will be performing.
Entirely student-run and student-staffed, the pub knows its customers. Prices are very reasonable, with pints ringing in at $5 and mixed drinks from $4.20. They serve Rickard’s Red, Canadian, Stella, Keith’s, and Coors on tap. The pub also offers a delivery service for students living on campus at $2.50 on orders of $10 or more before tax.
“I come here because it’s cheap,” said Mahmoud Fayed, pointing to his huge plateful of food. A drink-and-dinner combo costs just under $7.
Fourth-year students Jessica Vallentin and Melanie aren’t Blind Duck habitues, but have popped by a few times during the year. They both said they probably wouldn’t bother if the pub weren’t the only game in town (the nearest off-campus bar is about a 20 minute walk away). Each has her own grievances with the Blind Duck.
Vallentin notes the dirty taps. “Every time I’ve got a pint, there have been flakes in it,” she said. Now, she only orders bottles.
Hrymak said that the pub is underutilized and can feel impersonal. “UTM is very much a commuter campus, and nothing is being done to change that,” she explained. “The Blind Duck is not a social hub. The hours are limited, and unless there’s an event planned, people don’t come.”
The Blind Duck is located at the The Student Centre, 3395 Mississauga Road North. Hours are Monday to Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed on weekends.
- Amy Stupavsky