A Pint and Pub Grub at Betty’s

Club with couscousEarlier this year my husband and I embarked on a “no fried foods” rule, which dissolved almost as quickly as we agreed to it. All the same, there are times when I’m not in the mood for French fries, so I was intrigued by the option of having couscous with cranberry and orange zest alongside my sandwich at Betty’s. Fluffy, light and cool, it’s the perfect side dish during patio weather.

Betty’s is a breezy, relaxed bar on King Street East. It’s frequented by nearby George Brown students, local journalists and comedians. Every inch of available wall space is plastered with a hodge-podge of posters, artwork, photographs, framed magazine covers, as well as a copy of the cease and desist letter from the Betty Ford Clinic — Betty’s original name. Three rooms on the main floor, a second floor with pool tables and a large, sheltered back patio provide lots of seating. Corktown Comedy performs upstairs on Wednesday nights.

With 20 types of draft beer on tap — including three local; Amsterdam, Mill Street and Steam Whistle, Betty’s has a great mix of premium, imported and domestic taps, along with 28 types of bottled beer. For those not imbibing, their iced tea is refreshing, not too sweet or tart.

The menu has a wide range of pub grub; fish and chips, sandwiches, burgers (both beef and vegetarian options), nachos, burritos, enchiladas, salads and fries. When I’m their with George Brown classmates for pints, someone invariably orders the Dennis’ deep six ($7.95) for the table: layered deep fried beans, sautéed onions, salsa, guacamole, sour cream and cheddar cheese, with tortilla chips for dipping. Chicken wings ($9.95 for 1 lb) tossed in mild, medium, hot, suicide, honey garlic or jerk sauce also disappear very quickly, even if some at the table claim they’re not hungry.

When I’m at Betty’s for a meal, I often end up with the Klub Fred club sandwich ($8.95), filled with swiss cheese, ham, bacon, cucumber, tomato and mayo on white. I don’t normally eat white bread, but I like it in this sandwich; the cucumber adds a cooling crunch. The sandwich is a savoury, salty counterpoint to the slight sweetness of the cranberry-orange couscous. I’m always a little sad when my couscous is finished. One of these days I’ll have to ask for a larger serving.

On our most recent visit, my husband had the chicken enchiladas ($9.95); wrapped spicy chicken, red and green peppers, onions, cilantro and chili sauce covered with melted cheese. Although the dish was spicy, cheesy and baked to perfection, it was a bit too hearty for a muggy summer day and would have been a better choice for cooler weather. The side ceasar salad (all mains come with a choice of spinach, ceasar, Greek or mixed green salad) had fresh, dark green romaine, creamy ceasar dressing, with lots of croutons and parmesan cheese.

Service at Betty’s is like everything else about the place — friendly, relaxed and down to earth. As for the fries ($1.25 or as a possible side for all mains), I may not be obsessed with them like I am with their couscous, but they are golden, crispy and definitely make it worthwhile to break our fried food ban.

240 King Street East

Dinner for two with all taxes, tip and pints: $45

Originally published on Taste T.O.