Gambrinus Bistro & Cafe
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Taps: 18 / Bottles: 130
Cask: Y / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 9 | Reviews: 9
4.35/5 rDev +1.4%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
Located in the heart of downtown London at the Convent Garden Market, Gambrinus is not only the best beer bar in the city, but also one of the top destinations in Ontario.
The atmosphere is vibrant, well-lit, and inviting. Various craft beer taps tower over the bar. Lots of chairs upfront with four-person tables by the windows and a lounge area near the front entrance. On many nights, particularly after a London Knights game or concert at the John Labatt Centre, the bar is packed with an array of patrons, both young and old, and the music ranges from laid-back jazz to contemporary rock.
I am a bit biased when it comes to judging the service because my girlfriend and I are twice weekly patrons here. Unsurprisingly, the staff treat us great: drinks and food arrive quickly, the kitchen is open until 12ish, and the staff - Milos, Adil, Nick, Christian - are always up for a chat. The waitresses are generally friendly and some of them have a decent knowledge of beer.
Selection is by far the best in London and only slightly less than what you'd expect from barVolo or beerbistro. The tap list includes top-notch micros such as Flying Monkeys Smash Bomb IPA, Cheshire Valley Robust Porter, Black Oak Saison, and Grand River Plowman's Ale. Bottles focus on offerings that you normally can't get at the LCBO or TBS. Examples are Charlevoix Vache Folle Milk Stout, Phillips Hop Circle IPA, and Les Trois Mousquetaires Weizen Impériale. Most of the Roland & Russell line-up (De Struise, Hitachino, BrewDog), many Dieu du Ciel! brews, and a number of Mikkeller offerings are also available.
In addition to the 18 draughts and 130 bottles, Gambrinus now has a cask engine that, up to this point, has featured beers from Granite, Neustadt, and Taps, among others. As well, every Saturday they run different brews through their DFH Randall The Enamel Animal. One experiment saw FM Netherworld pushed through fresh cone hops, cocoa nibs, chipotle peppers, coffee, and bittersweet chocolate, to create what the bar called a "Hole Mole Black IPA."
The food menu consists of excellent entrees that pair well with beer and wine. Ever since chefs Ryan and Matt took over, the Arctic Char, Steak & Frites, and Crispy Pork Schnitzel have become three of my favourite dishes.
In terms of value, I find Gambrinus pretty reasonable. Many draught beers are under $5.00. On several occasions, six drinks, two appetizers, and two entrees have come to less than $90. Overall, Gambrinus is a must-visit when you're in the London area, and I expect to see many more exciting developments from this bar as Milos and Adil continue on their righteous craft beer crusade.
06-09-2011 19:36:51 | More by cratez
4.53/5 rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4 | $$
Atmosphere: This place is very inviting. The bar wall displays a great number of previous taps and taps that are on deck for the upcoming months. The bar side also offers alot of seating.
Service: The waitress that served my girlfriend and I seemed to know her beer quite well and she gave us great service the entire time. The bartender also gave us great service.
Selection: This is the best selection I have ever seen in a bar. They offer over 150 beers either from Canada, Belgium or the world. The offer great canadian craft beers such as Flying Monkeys, Unibroue, Dieu du ciel and many more.
Food and value: Although I didn't get to try much from the food menu, they have a great selection to choose from and I really enjoyed what I had. The prices are also very reasonabe.
I definetly recommend this place if your a local or if your just in town vivisting as I was.
05-10-2011 01:29:20 | More by SebD
4.53/5 rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
This is a place that I enjoy going to every time. It's also the best bar for beer selection that I'm aware of outside of Toronto, or the states. I've gone a couple times, and found their prices to be extremely reasonable. I don't know how they've got some of their Belgian beer for so cheap.
They also get new specials in, which mixes things up. Last time I was in they had Red Racer IPA, which I had always wanted to try, but never could acquire. They also had Peche Mortel on tap.
I could go to this place for a long time before running out of new things to try. They have a whole page of beer from Belgium, as well as one for Canada, and another of the world. This adds up to around 130 different kinds of bottled beer last time I checked, and then there's the beer on tap as well.
I might be giving it easier marks since it's somewhat of an Oasis around here, but I'm glad I know of one bar that I find myself excited to drink at.
My biggest recommendation is to try to avoid the JLC crowd which can be thoroughly loud. Other than that It's great to go any time.
10-04-2010 12:20:14 | More by BBP
3.98/5 rDev -7.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5 | $$$
Thanks to @ herrorara and @ cratez for recommending Chancey Smith's in London. Atmosphere was upscale, perhaps even yuppie. The food was really good (hot roast beef sandwich, southwest wrap, excellent soup and salad choices). The beer selection: impressive. Three pages of bottled beers, another on tap. Good scotches listes, but Weiser's Extra Old and some single-malt Canadians deserve to be on the list too, if only to showcase some local talent. Canadian micro- and craft- brewers were well represented, and DogFish Head and Rogue the American craft representatives.
Dark wood with lots of light streaming in. Ambiance of mid-to-up scale. Relaxed feeling. Generous with beer samples and knowledgeable about the guest beers. Certainly worth a stop passing through at lunch or dinner, or an evening beer tasting. Convenient overview of Canadian micros for weary travelers.
07-11-2010 02:06:05 | More by salvo
4.35/5 rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5 | $$
Best Beer selection in the area SW of TO and Hamilton.
18 Tap handles - all import or local craft beer. If there is a special seasonal or one-off micro beer, Milos at Chancey's will have it. The ONLY place outside TO with the hard to get micros.
Over 100 bottled import and micro brews in the cooler...rare micro stuff and top grade trappist ales.
Food is decent pub fare but there are some upscale dining choices as well...good steaks. Great service and Milos is always ready to discuss the finer points of the crafted and import beers he sells.
Chancey's is the London-Stratford-Tri Cities destination point...a beer lover's oasis in a craft beer desert.
If it lacks one thing, it is a hand pump system to serve casks. Were it to offer more crafted cask ales I'd rate it in the 90s
06-11-2010 19:23:15 | More by pootz
4.53/5 rDev +5.6%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$
First time as this bar/resturant and its a pretty nice place. Best beer selection I have seen before, not being to the Toronto bars yet. But I hear they get pretty pricey there, and I was somewhat impressed with the pricing here. Quite a long list of belgiums, including Rochefort and St. Bernardus. Wish the american craft beer selection could have been bigger then just the usuals, but I understand the restrictions they face because of the LCBO. Overall, I was very impressed with the selection of beers from the top 100 on this site. Glad I finally got to try some of them. We had exceptional service too. Will definately visit here again.
11-28-2009 17:29:09 | More by WeedKing4
4/5 rDev -6.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
A modern restaurant whose best asset is the late fall acquisition of Milas, a Czech with a passion for beer, as General manager. Right in the heart of downtown, pay your parking, with with several comfortable tables moulded onto a large deck. Attractive medium sized bar. Friendly staff and customers. Food I am told was above average. Attractive laid out draught beer menu, and pretty good bottles list even for a big city, with lots of special orders and Belgians. A definate stop if you are in London.
09-16-2009 03:17:42 | More by Sammy
4.13/5 rDev -3.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
London's newest beer bar with a great starting beer list. The list featured Lindemans Cuvee Rene, Scaldis Prestige, Rohchefort 10, 8, Southern Tier Cherry Saison, Chimay Blue, Saison Dupont, St Bernardus 12, Unibroue Chambly Noire, Unibroue Don de Dieu, and some tough to get OCB stuff such as bottled Nickel Brook Uniek Kriek, Scottish Ale, and others. And this was just the beginning. A nice atmosphere, modern, classy, with large bar, and really large dining room. Wine list is excellent as well. Lots of nice reds to match their famous steaks. Youd pay more to dine at the Keg, and you're getting better quality here. Who says fine dining cannot be matched with fine beer?
07-29-2009 11:07:47 | More by mrmanning
4.2/5 rDev -2.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$
Took my girlfriend here for valentines. The small city I live in is a beer wasteland, so I was happy to see that a good beer bar/resteraunt was a short one hour drive
Atmosphere:After a few attempts at finding the place on the one way street we eventually parked somewhere else downtown and walked. The place wasn't as busy as I expected being a friday night and valentines weekend no less, but I was very impressed with the way the pace looks. quality tables and chairs and decor. lots of beer bottles adorn the bar and dining area.
Beer: I actually called Milo before I left and asked him if he had any special offerings that were not on the beer list, and he gave me the low down. He told me about a breakfast stout that he just got in which happened to be mikkeller's beer geek breakfast, so that was the first thing I ordered. - delicious. I also had a Saison Dupont which was excellent. The beer list is available on the website but I suggest you ask about what else they have.
Selection: plenty of Belgian and canadian stuff, I think the German section is lacking, but this is ontario... you are VERY limited by the liquor control board as to what your allowed to import. Quite frankly I don't want to know how they got the Mikkeller here...then again I kind of do want to know :D
S: Service was average however with one black mark: Our first waiter took my drink order but completely ignored my gf. I guess I should have been a gentleman and had her order first but that's not the point. he came back with my stout and began to tell us about the specials - I stopped him and asked that he take her drink order. This waiter ended up leaving before our food was served because apparently he wanted to go home. He was a nice guy though - seemed to know his beer- but not what I call excellent service.
F: Based on the previous reviewers comments I wasn't expecting to be blown away be the food. We ordered a spinach dip for a starter and my girlfriend ordered the pork tenderloin, while I ordered the lamb chops. The spinach dip was the best I've had so far and when the mains came we were both very impressed. The food was conventional, but good. My lamb was cooked and seasoned perfectly and Nicole's pork was served with a delicious applesauce. We enjoyed a chocolate tart for desert which again was conventional but delicious.
I really enjoyed my experience here. The beer selection is large considering its in Ontario (i usually go to Michigan to drink craft beer), things seemed a little pricey but I think the quality makes up for that.
02-14-2009 04:24:53 | More by uno99
Gambrinus Bistro & Cafe in London, ON, Canada
- out of 100 based on 9 ratings.