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Introducing: The Bristol Yard, a bit of Britain down by Christie Pits

The walls are covered with photos of various British celebrities (Image: Gizelle Lau)

The Bristol Yard is a new British-style cafe (that’s pronounced “caf,” not “café”) which opened a couple of weeks ago halfway between Christie Pits and Fiesta Farms. The restaurant has taken over the long-dilapidated corner space at Christie and Pendrith Streets (you can still see it on Google street view), and aims to serve “working-class food for working-class people,” which means fish and chips and many varieties of meat pies.

The interior was built by owners Davy Love (who’s also the chef) and Cal Hager and boasts warm wooden floors and black tables with white benches fashioned from old church pews sourced from a church in Kingston. On the walls, black-and-white photos of British, Scottish, Irish and Welsh actors, chefs, musicians, authors and artists peer down on diners. At the counter, there are (savoury) pies on sale for takeout near a 1939 cash register from the King Edward Hotel, bought at auction.

In the kitchen, Love and sous-chef Ansonn Bryant pride themselves on their all-homemade menu, from the sausages to the pies, and hope to tell a story with each dish (as you can see on the menu). The sausages ($10 each) range from English bangers (pork) to Cumberland (beef), chipolata (pork) and even vegetarian, and come served with mash (i.e., mashed potatoes) or chips (i.e., fries). They’re also available battered. Holding pride of place on the menu, however, are the pies, including steak, ale and mushroom ($10), chicken tikka masala ($10) and Melton Mowbray ($12), all served with mushy peas or salad and chips or mash. To finish, there’s banoffee pie, warm treacle tart and Eccles cakes ($5 each). While there’s no liquor, there is a selection of specially imported U.K. soft drinks like Irn-Bru, Lilt, Vimto, Tizer and Shandy Bass ($2each). There’s also brunch on weekends (homemade scones, crumpets and other heavy English breakfast staples), and a Sunday evening roast, when the pies are replaced by roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, seasonal vegetables, salad and mash, served with a drink and sticky toffee pudding for $20.

The Bristol Yard, 146 Christie St., 647-716-6583, Facebook page

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  • Gary

    Are they trying to get a license?

  • R-Paul

    I’ve eaten here countless times already…..soooooooo good.

    Chicken Tikka Masala Pie is THE BEST.

  • puddler

    No booze?!?!

  • Food Dude

    British Caff’s never have booze, Puddler… but I understand they will have a license at some point. The AGCO works very slowly.

  • Kat

    Cindy Ham – they sell “melton mobrawy” pies at the deli coutner at Loblaws.

  • Cindy Ham

    Kat – You’ve obviously missed the point of my comment.

    Melton Mowbray pies are a geographically protected food product, coming from a specific region of the East Midlands. The equivalent would be like selling sparkling wine from the Okanagan and calling it champagne. Champagne (‘real champagne’) is only allowed to come from the Champagne region of France. Loblaws and Bristol Yard could sell “pork pies,” but it would be lying to call it a Melton Mowbray.

    In any case, I’m quite skeptical that the Bristol Yard or Loblaws are selling real Melton Mowbrays, because it is often served cold and as an appetizer option. Most pies sold by Loblaws are hot and cooked in tins. MMs are distinguished by their sloping sides.

    Your foodie knowledge could use some updating Kat.

  • Northernsoul

    Somehow I don’t foresee an International crisis developing here, it’s a pie!

  • Food Dude

    Sounds like Cindy Ham just likes to find something to be angry and complain about. She surely needs a pie. FYI: The Bristol Yard does sell pork pies cold as well as hot (North Americans like them hot!). People who are ‘skeptical’ about the authenticity of a restaurant BEFORE they even try it are ridiculous!

  • Leo

    Loblaws do sell pork pies.
    Pastry like cardboard.
    Lid falls off.
    Minced pork inside (instead of diced).
    Very little “jelly”.

    Similar to the pasteurized fizzy cold tasteless stuff that passes as beer in North America (until the advent of Cask Ale).

    Am heading to Bristol Yard tomorrow. In hope.

    The reason this entry is here now, is the comment from Northernsoul – “it’s a pie”.
    It’s a pie???? Are you mad. Life is all about the food.
    Cindy Ham may have never had a real pork pie from Melton Mowbray, so can be excused thinking the stuff from Loblaws (and elsewhere) is real food.
    But stating that a pie is just a pie, is so sad. You are missing the point that chefs are striving for all their lives. Relegating their hard work, inspiration and artistic creations to “it’s a pie”.
    Stay anonymous. Remember the “demon barber”! LOL

  • Cindy Ham

    As a British expat (from Leicestershire, no less) now living in Yorkville, I can assure you that I have had many a Melton Mowbray pie. And I take issue with a bunch of Torontonians claiming they can produce a real MM pie.

    I don’t have an issue with them offering British pies, but hopscotching a proprietary name is like Samsung selling their next smartphone as an iPhone. Seriously uncool.

    Maybe if Food Dude looked around, pork pies are served cold, whereas other pies (fish pie/beef and ale pie/chicken pie) are served hot.

    Alas, it appears Torontonians still cannot appreciate regional variations in great food. What a shame. Maybe it is time to move back to the motherland, just in time for the Jubilee and Olympics.

  • Tom

    Last time I was there, I confirmed that the vegetarian pies are made with lard, so not actually vegetarian. I wish them success but they should correct their menu on that point.

  • Davy

    Let me straighten a few things out here for some confused people (one in particular). My name is Davy and I am the chef and co-owner of The Bristol Yard. I would like to address Cindy Ham and her absurd comments and accusations. Nobody is trying to fool people into thinking my pies are made in the village of Melton Mowbray. I make them here in the Bristol Yard, by hand on a daily basis. It says so RIGHT ON THE MENU beside the words a Melton Mowbray “STYLE” pie. I only use top quality ingredients and make every pie to the exact standards that a real MM pie is made with in the village of Melton Mowbray. We are NOT “a bunch of Torontonians claiming they can produce a real MM pie”… I am from an English/Scottish family, I am a trained chef who studied under one of the greatest pie makers in the UK ever and I am more than capable of making a pie that any person in Melton Mowbray would enjoy and be happy to sell. YES, the name Melton Mowbray is protected by E.U. trade commission laws for the reason of pirated pies flooding the European market place (which we are not doing). Also… in case you were unaware Canada is NOT part of the E.U.

    I only ever used the name Melton Mowbray on the menu because I wanted an easy way to describe the pie to people (our clientèle mainly hails from the UK) as to what exactly the pie I make is all about. It is not minced pork btw… I butcher, hand-cut and spice all my pork myself here in-house. I hand-raise EACH and EVERY pie without a baking mould. I go to great lengths to do my best to ensure the pie lives up to its famous name including but not limited to: sourcing out flour with the exact moisture content that a pie made in Melton Mowbray uses, buying my pork from a small Ontario farm supplier, etc.

    I am not trying to steal a brand name. That argument doesn’t even make any sense. This isn’t like using Samsung (a trade name used by ONE company)… There are many pie makers in and around Melton Mowbray and you would know that if YOU actually did some research. You can moan and complain all you want and you are free to call the E.U trade commission to complain about us (might as well call the Cornish Pasty board too while you’re at it)… It won’t stop me from making good food and spreading the word that British food is not bland and tasteless crap you get in cookie-cutter fake pubs in this city. If you were really proud of being English (you claim to be from Leicestershire – which I doubt!) you would be happy to hear about a restaurant like ours bringing the real and traditional flavours of Britain to Toronto. We are young, hard working people who have spent our life savings, worked 10 months building the place, and actually care about every single thing we put out. If you ate here you might realise that fact and not be such a jerk about a silly name of a pie. If you ever feel like trying one of our pies you can email me and I’ll make sure you get one on the house! Thanks and have a Happy Victoria Day.

  • Northernsoul

    ‘Its a pie’……

    As in, I can’t foresee Canada being kicked out of the commonwealth
    because a few lads have listed it on their menu in Canada. My comment was in lieu of how ridiculous a direction this thread has taken.

    Incidently, If I were in any establishment & overheard such an annoying know it all mouthing off with such useless insightful pastry knowledge and historical pie facts….I would prod you in the arse with a fork & ask you to be quiet ;-)

  • SQ

    Menu sounds lovely! Looking forward to trying BY next time I’m in Toronto (this coming from someone who lives in a city where it’s ALL fake pubs w/ overpriced processed food).

  • Basil

    Davy – welcome to the neighborhood! I’ve been avidly ogling your establishment over the past few months in anxious anticipation of the grand opening. The menu sounds fantastic (particularly the heatedly debated Melton Mowbray). If your pies are even half as good as your well-crafted rebuttal to the pie police then I foresee a long and prosperous future in the restaurant business.

  • Methinks

    Welcome to the hood, Davy. I just spent two weeks in the UK and it’s good to know someone’s bringing it back here for further appreciation. And yes, I agree with “Basil” – good on ya for standing up for yourself against the naysayers and those quick to judge a new venture. And thanks for bringing some life to a quiet corner of the city.

  • Jimmy Simpson

    @ Davy

    Ah, but do you hand mush your peas? : )

    Can’t wait to visit and try out the MM style pie, you’ve really peaked my curiosity.

    Cheers!

  • Davy

    @ Jimmy – No, I just mash those peas with my bare feet like all the best east-end pie & mash cooks do ;)

    Thanks for the props and welcomes to the neighbourhood. We couldn’t have picked a better spot in the city. The people around this area are truly some of the nicest people we have ever met in Toronto. We have been very welcomed and we appreciate that.

  • Chris

    I just have to say, that Davy’s rebuttal to the pie police was probably the most mouthwatering rebuttal I’ve ever read to a stupid comment. I’m literally drooling from reading Davy’s description of how he makes the pies. Damn!

    I don’t really live near Christie Pits (I’m in the East End) butI think I need to make a trip over!

  • James Cotton

    I bet that Irn Bru is a fair bit more than 49p

  • Davy

    Irn Bru at The Bristol Yard is $2 same price for all imported Brit-fizzy drinks.

  • Welshgrrl

    As someone who has lived and dined in the UK (and is tired of the fake Fox and whatever pubs everywhere here), I’m also looking forward to checking this place out as its in my neighbourhood.

    I walked past it the other way on my way home, and the menu made me drool. Best of luck!

  • pogopoe

    It’s hard to type this without sounding bitchy and it’s not meant to be but if state you’re opening at X-time pls make sure you are. It’s very frustrating to make a specific trip to a place to find it’s not open when it says it’s supposed to be.

    And it hurts business. Saw people walking away from BY today when it was approx 30 mins past posted opening time and it was not open.

  • Davy

    @pogopoe – We fully accept responsibility for not having the kitchen open on-time, and we are very sorry to have put you out. The reason for being late is that we have been seriously swamped with take-out/retail sales and we just didn’t anticipate this kind of response when we opened it. We are just in the stage where we can’t really afford to hire more staff yet, so it is extremely hard for us to keep up and do all the other things involved in this place. We are trying our best though, and we will try to ensure that we can open on-time every time in the future. We hate to hear stories like this, and we really hate to see people walk away because we are late… but putting out food that isn’t made correctly isn’t an option for us. We want every meal to be a good one for people. That takes great amounts of time when you make everything. Again though, sorry and we hope we can make it up to you some time.

  • Disappointed

    Fair enough restaurants have kinks to work out when they first open up, but making patrons wait over an hour longer than the listed opening hour of 5pm is not acceptable. Got there at 5:30. (The opening time was listed as 5pm and there was no note or anything on the door telling patrons otherwise). Waited 15 minutes, only to be told that we could come indoors and wait another 15 minutes before our order would even be taken. (Who knows how long we would have waited to actually eat). We were advised that it would be better to wait outside because of the stifling heat inside. No thanks. You’ve lost my business.

  • Davy

    Seriously? Wow. Thanks for understanding.

  • john

    Davy, looking forward to checking the place out, but let me offer you a little piece of advice — resist the temptation to respond to every complaint you read here, because you are sliding into an argumentative mode which never ends well for the business in question.

    Rules of engagement online with customers or potential customers — keep it brief, cheery, and to the point. Apologise when necessary but if they don’t take the apology then leave it at that. Further engagement offers no upside to the public image of your business and only possible downsides.

    But again, I’m really looking forward to eating at your place and hope the kinks in opening times / wait times I’ve read about are fixed by the time I show up!

  • pissoff

    Cindy Ham – piss off back to Blighty then. and fast. jobsworth. we should never let people like you out of Britain. you’re an embarrassment.

  • PJ

    Ate here yesterday and had a really excellent meal. You can tell the food is made from scratch as it tasted excellent. Had their chicken tikka pie which was packed with chicken. It was a little dry, but came doused with marsala sauce on the outside which helped offset that. We also had their fish and chips – also excellent. Batter was nice and crispy but not too thick. Fish was nice and moist. Home made tartar sauce and mushy peas helped elevate the dish to one of the best fish n chips we have had in the city. Prices are more than reasonable – to the point of thinking how these prices can be sustained long term for the quality of food being served. A taste of the UK in Toronto – will definitely be back! Take some cash if you go as they don’t take cards yet.

  • Disappointed

    @ Davy – Wow!! Gaslighting, eh? An apology would have been preferred (which would have been more akin to taking responsibility than doling out a long excuse). Perhaps you should brush up on your customer service skills. The next time someone keeps you waiting an hour to eat after travelling halfway across the city, see how that makes you feel.

    If you spent less time attacking your customers online, you might actually be able to open your restaurant on time!

  • Rob_Sutherland

    I was thinking “Hmm, when I’m in the mood for a pie I might meander over and see what’s what.” After Davy’s scathing rebuttal, well now I HAVE to go. Thank good it’s close to home as I get the premonition I might be going more than once!

  • nancy

    I pass by the restaurant all the time, and can’t wait till I can actually stop in. The food sounds wonderful and sooo inviting. What are your hours of business, I didn’t see them posted. I know you are open on the weekend, but, are you also open during the week? Welcome to the neighbourhood as well, we certainly needed a good restaurant around.

  • Scotty

    I sure hope that all these rave comments are valid as I was dead chuffed to hear of this establishment and I’ll be taking my born-and-bred-in-Bristol Missus Herself out for a Saturday birthday brunch in 2 weeks and if it turns out to come a cropper, my home life may be like a moggie in the dog pound.

  • wulfric

    Having tasted a “Melton Mowbray” pie from Bristol Yard I can say that it neither looks like nor tastes like a Melton Mowbray pie. In particular it is too spicy. The chef recommends warming it in the oven, which is not British!

 

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