- The High Park neighbourhood is near-void of good places to grab a pint. Well, it was until The Mugshot Tavern opened anyways… The Mugshot easily provides the perfect answer to filling that void, and then some. Truly nice owners, delicious food, and a killer environment, this place takes the neighbourhood bar way beyond what it’s expected to be.
If the Mugshot doesn’t have the best draft selection in a 10 km radius, it certainly has the most well-thought-out one. These guys obviously love beer, and more obviously is that they’ve put a ton of thought into what is being pulled from the taps. It’s all craft beer, and some interesting stuff at that. Chances are they have a few you’ve never even heard of, like the King Pilsner and Warthog Ale. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they’re probably one of only a handful of places in the city with either on tap. Don’t expect to find Canadian or Blue here; what they offer is much more creative than any of that stuff.
The food, and the entire menu for that matter, is equally well-thought out. It’s a killer mix of Southern-soul and comfort food, and they do a dam fine job of pulling it off. You can expect to find Southern favorites, like fried chicken with fritters, and some not so expected ones, like in-house-made corn dogs with chutney. The presentation is pretty decent too and again, goes beyond the typical bar stuff. It’s pretty obvious that the people manning the kitchen know what the hell they’re doing back there. Rarely do I go to a restaurant and have difficulty deciding what to order; at The Mugshot I was torn between a few items.
They’ve done a dam good job of ridding the place of all remnants of the defunct McKenzies that used to take up the place. They’ve clearly spent a lot of time, thought, and energy turning it into something completely new. The environment, painted in bright red and tactfully covered in old-school, famous mugshot photos, is easily the kind of space you could hang out for a long, long time. It’s comfortable and welcoming, the way a neighbourhood local should be. Despite not being an overly large place, it still accommodates nicely, and any excess people can spill onto their cozy rooftop patio.
And the staff at Mugshot? They couldn’t be any friendly. Having only been open about a week or so, you’d never know it by their attitudes. Likely working long hours, round-the-clock, getting the place ready and established, they’re still sociable, out-going, and friendly. I sure-as-hell didn’t feel like a stranger in this joint, and I don’t think anyone with even the teeniest bit of personality would either. Even coming in by yourself is sure to get you some conversation.
It’s clear that, after just opening, they’re still trying to establish their crowd. It’s still sorta random as to the people that might be in there. While one day the bar could be full of seniors, that evening it could be packed with a younger crowd. It seems to be dependent on the time of day, but it’s also, unfortunately, the way the neighbourhood seems to work. Customers are sorta like family; you can’t really pick ‘em.
The Mugshot isn’t just the kind of place you sit, drink, and hide from the world, although it provides that pretty well; it’s also the kind of place that you can unexpectedly get some truly imaginative and delicious food in a comfortable and welcoming space. In a neighbourhood like High Park, The Mugshot Tavern is unrivaled in every respect.
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- If you’ve ever driven by High Park on Bloor street, seen the street-level sign that advertises 3 dollar breakfast, and considered stopping in to check it out, you’re probably lucky you didn’t. Sure, I know the breakfast is only 3 dollars, so I probably shouldn’t be hard on it; but regardless of price, I’d still like my meal to be served hot and be put together with some level of care and attention.
This is a pretty mediocre breakfast here: a slice of warm ham, a strip of old bacon, browned toast, over/undercooked eggs, leftover potatoes, breakfast served here is less-than-spectacular, and the service staff doesn’t seem to care if you complain about it; I’m sure they’ve heard it all countless times before.
All of this, of course, is served in one Toronto’s prized possessions, High Park. If it wasn’t for the location, I certainly would have given them 1 star. In fact, it wasn’t for the location, I probably wouldn’t have eaten there at all. And in some strange way, I almost wish I didn’t eat there. That way, the ad on Bloor street could have remained some mystical promise of a tasty, hot, and friendly-served breakfast somewhere in the heart of High Park.
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