Just around the corner from Reds Midtown Tavern we visited few weeks ago, is the newly opened sister bar, Duke's Refresher. As the first location in Toronto (original is camped out in Muskoka), it offers 40 beers on tap with great accompanying dishes, a delicious breakfast menu, and a beer Stein Club.
We also noticed a number of 24oz Steins filling the wall behind the bar. Troy, the manager told us that's for their exclusive Einstein Club, designed for beer 'enthusiasts.' The Einstein Club is a yearly membership costing only $20, where Duke's reserves your very own numbered Stein to drink out of on your visits. This personalized touch is already a hit as it's sold out!
After being seated, I immediately ordered a drink called 'Stormy Weather' to relax since I had a long day at work that day.
The Crispy Chicken Nuggets tossed in buttermilk and crusted in seasoned flour with a Thai chili garlic sauce was well cooked and tender. Although it resembled fried chicken more than the traditional breaded chicken, it wasn't heavy and greasy like fried chicken. We loved the texture of the nugget crust and it paired extremely well with the Thai chili garlic sauce.
The Sweet Potato Thing with sweet potato fries, french fries and onions with a coconut chili dipping sauce was massive and we were warned when we ordered that it was definitely meant for sharing. Three of us only managed to finish half so you can definitely split between 4-5 people without fighting over the dish. We did feel that the dish got a bit too heavy towards the end as all the dishes we ordered were fried. The coconut chili sauce was a great dip to have on the side and it was very flavourful.
The Crispy Haddock Fish Tacos on a warm corn tortilla, gingered red cabbage slaw, smoky salsa roja, crema piquante and cilantro were definitely our favourite of the night. The acidity from the salsa and cilantro combined well with the slaw and the crispy haddock as there were lots of flavours and texture going on. You can also get Seared Tuna or Spiced Shrimp instead of the Crispy Haddock.
The Shameless Waffles taste as amazing as they look in the photo. We all know sharing is caring so split the waffles with a friend or two because it's a large dessert. The waffles were very light and even with the whipped cream, it didn't seem like a heavy dessert at all. The fresh fruit along with nuts and dried fruit were an excellent choice of toppings as well.
Did we mention they have a breakfast club? If you're at the bar the night before, make sure you get stamped somewhere on your body for a discount of upto 50% on your breakfast the next day! The more exposed and embarrassing the stamp is, the higher the discount.
There's a few photos of people with stamps on their heads on their Shameless Breakfast Club Wall, but we're sure it'll multiply fast. What's better than a nice greasy breakfast to cure that nasty hangover?
We have a feeling Duke's is going to be a great hangout spot for the Yonge & Gerrard neighbourhood with their playful breakfast stamp program, delicious food menu and great cocktail and beers on tap. Also, note that everyday after 7pm, you get a bubblegum cotton candy on your way out - we thought that was the cherry on top of all their customer loyalty programs.