120 Diner (Toronto)

120 Diner


Based on my experiences, 120 Diner should really be considered a music lounge than a diner. On Friday evening, a singer that’s part of Music Can Heal, serenaded us with mellow songs that washed away the weekday worries and left us in a meditative trance. The restaurant also features jazz, cabaret, comedic acts and even karaoke nights if you want to grace the stage (here’s the full calendar). 

Similar to music lounges, they also offer a variety of cocktails. Two of their in-house concocted mixes look similar but couldn’t be more different.
  • The Burning Ember ($7.10), the same signature red as the tables, is their take on a vodka cran with a splash of ginger ale for bubbles.  
  • Meanwhile, the White Freezie ($9.75) may not look like the childhood frozen treat, but one sip will bring back memories. Surprisingly, we learned it’s the combination raspberry Sourpuss and banana that gives the frozen dessert that distinctive flavour.

Even the Grey Goose Peach Mojito ($12), the least colourful of the bunch, has an element of whimsy from the skewer of candy that accompanies the refreshing drink. I don’t know about you, the anything with muddled mint makes for a great summer drink.


It’s a shame the chicken wings ($12.95 for 1lb) occupies so little of the menu’s real estate (compared to the quarter page dedicated to nachos and poutine) – I almost missed ordering them. Yet, it’d be a shame not to try their wings as they’re fantastic (certainly gives my current favourite, Real Sports, a run for its money).


Using a “jumbo” size, 7-8 arrive in a pound each having an excellent crunchy coating while retaining a succulent juiciness inside. Their in-house honey garlic sauce even incorporates cloves of roasted garlic, perfect for smearing onto the sticky sweet sauce to give the wing an additional richness.

The spicy fish sandwich ($14.95) caught my eye, an unusual sandwich that rarely graces menus … especially one that’s oven poached as opposed to deep fried. Despite the relatively blank looking fish, the sandwich has kick with its three spicy elements: firstly the sambal sauce, an Indonesian blend of chilis and fish sauce, gave it heat and rich flavours; a layer of spicy mayo for that creaminess that makes a sandwich hearty; and lastly pickled jalapenos for a sting that dances on the tongue.


With gooey melted cheese and a soft Ace Bakery ciabatta bun, the sandwich really comes together… seemingly simple but delicious. Even their fries were expertly executed using in-house cut potatoes: retaining a long length, a crispy crust encapsulating fluffy innards, and most importantly, arriving piping hot.

For those who love protein, the 120 Meatlover cheeseburger ($17.95) takes their thick lean beef patty and piles saucy pulled pork and double smoked bacon on top! Take it from me, there’s no way to eat this cleanly so ask for extra napkins at the beginning. This is a serious burger with tons of fixings including cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and crispy fried onions.


Perhaps the most notable feature that makes the restaurant a “diner” is their desserts – a selection of traditional favourites such as carrot cake, brownies, banana pudding and baked lemon squares. I suggest you enquire about their weekly special, as the cheekily named strawberry TALL cake ($7.99) was the perfect ending: pieces of dense white cake piled high with cold soft serve ice cream and tons of sweet strawberries. 


For a person who loves strawberry shortcake, it was that light but sweet enough dessert that left me satisfied. And since 120 Diner now has their own soft serve machine, expect more of these gems in the future.

A fantastic new menu for a restaurant that’s just celebrated its second year anniversary. Still the generous portions and affordable prices the restaurant’s known for, but now an even larger selection and some really interest options – spicy fish sandwich anyone?

Overall mark - 8 out of 10
Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in the mission statement, I will also provide my honest opinion. 


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 120 Church Street

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



120 Diner Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

My secret: PC Insider products makes entertaining easy


I'll let you in on a tid bit about me: I'm a food blogger who doesn't love cooking. Don't get me wrong, it's not a task I despise and I'm a pretty good chef when it happens, but prepping takes SO LONG and the meal's finished in a flash! How can hours of chopping, marinating and grilling get reduced to a dish that's consumed in less than ten minutes?

Over the years, I've embraced taking short-cuts - purchasing pre-made ingredients that help save valuable time and sanity. The PC Insider's Collection is one I turn to on a regular basis - their burger patties (ranging from $9.99 - $12.99) are thick and juicy. After grilling, piled high with toppings and condiments, my creations rival others served in quick service restaurants. Tip: their corn relish and sriracha mayo ($2.99) work great for jazzing up burgers (although not necessarily together).

PC slow-smoked brisket beef burger with smoky grilled jalapenos, cheese, tomato and onions
During the holidays, their frozen meatballs and hors d'oeuvres (especially the phyllo pastry collection) are consumed with gusto before dinner and my biggest worry is to keep an ear out for the timer and not burn everything.

So, when President's Choice invited me to EFS's patio to showcase their new summer PC Insiders Collection, I was intrigued. What else have they cooked up for me?

Grilled or baked shrimp is something I regularly make: de-shell and de-vein shrimp, toss with olive oil, citrus, garlic, tomato paste, salt and pepper and marinade overnight. If you have the time, prepare extra and freeze with the marinade. That way, whenever you need a quick dinner or appetizer you can defrost and use in batches. At the event, PC served theirs with a side of mild pico de gallo ($5.69), which was rather refreshing and would be very delicious on toasted crostini. 


The harissa chicken ($3.99/lb) was so delicious I went back for seconds. The rub incorporated earthy cumin and caraway, garlic, coriander and a light chili heat. They served it with a saffron scented couscous and mango salsa (helping to calm the spice), but I rather enjoyed it with the kale salad that was dressed with a zippy chia lemon dressing and topped with chickpeas and tomatoes for added juiciness. 


It was surprising to learn that PC has their own line of Flavour Burst produce - although you could chalk it up to me not being observant, as I've since paid closer attention at Loblaws and realize there's indeed a variety of tomatoes (the "Yore"), blueberries and a Sugar Kiss melon as well. 

Their Kent mango ($2.50) was what attracted me: the pieces in the mango salsa were so sweet and silky. Consequently, the smooth texture is due to the fruit not having any of the stringy bits! And it went down way too easy as part of the Mango Hurricane cocktail (rum with Kent mango syrup, PC cane sugar soda cherry cola ($2.99), lime and orange juice).       


Although my favourite dish at the event was the harissa chicken, almost everyone I spoke to raved about the BBQ lamb flatbread with PC beet hummus (they've passed along the recipe and is included below). It was delicious and certainly an inventive summer dish! I particularly loved the vibrant beet hummus ($4.49) that is slightly sweet but still rather savoury from the tahini and garlic. It also works well with crackers as a snack.  


Now you know my little secret ... I'm a food blogger that doesn't love cooking. So, don't expect to see me developing recipes on Gastro World any time soon. Thankfully, brands like President's Choice is making it easier for me to still create without slaving away in the kitchen. My secret's safe with you, right?

BBQ Lamb on Beet Hummus Flatbread

Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb (250 g) PC® Lean Ground Australian Lamb
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp (25 mL) grated onion
  • 1 Tsp (5 mL) toasted cumin seeds, crushed in mortar and pestle
  • 3/4 Tsp (4 mL) ground coriander
  • 3/4 Tsp (4 mL) paprika
  • 1/2 Tsp (2 mL) each salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp (15 mL) PC® New World EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tbsp (45 mL) each chopped fresh parsley and mint
  • 1 pkg (220 g) PC® Appetizer Flatbreads
  • 1 pkg (280 g) PC® Beet Hummus Chickpea Dip and Spread
  • 2/3 cup (150 mL) PC® Crumbled Goat’s Milk Chevre Soft Unripened Cheese
  • Lemon wedges 
Directions
  1. Preheat barbecue to medium heat; grease grill.
  2. Combine lamb, garlic, onion, cumin, coriander, paprika, salt, pepper and oil. Using hands, gently mix until just combined. Form into three 4-inch (10 cm) patties; let stand 20 minutes.
  3. Grill patties 6 to 8 minutes, turning halfway, or until cooked through. Transfer to plate; crumble into small pieces using two forks. Sprinkle with parsley and mint; set aside.
  4. Grill flatbreads 30 to 60 seconds per side or until golden with grill marks; transfer to cutting board.
  5. Divide hummus between flatbreads; spread evenly to cover. Top with lamb and cheese. Garnish with freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Cut each flatbread into five pieces; squeeze lemon over top. Serve immediately.
How To Find Them
 Location: Across Canada

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog



Shore Grill & Grotto (Mississauga)

Shore Grill & Grotto

“Port Credit's finest. See for yourself...” This challenge left on the Shore Grill & Grotto’s website was accepted. Let’s see what the finest of the town has in store for us. Certainly, it’s one of Port Credit’s largest restaurants: the abundant store frontage provides a huge patio; that’s even before considering the cozy lounge (with live music), huge dining room and private dining area.     

Their bruschetta ($8.71) is best described as garlic bread with cheese topped with sliced tomatoes – good if you want garlic bread, but disappointing if you’re expecting bruschetta. The dish was missing that freshness from the herbs, tanginess from a bit of citrus and overall lightness that makes it the famed bread for me.


Consider sharing the cashew-encrusted goat cheese ($12.71) with a table of four as its sheer size would be a handful even for two. I wasn’t enthused when I read its description: cheese with nuts is understandable, but did it really also require roasted garlic and raspberry coulis (two flavours that shouldn’t work together). Yet, it all combined nicely, especially if you love contrasting dishes: the creamy smooth goat cheese with crunchy cashews, enhanced by the savoury sweet garlic and a pop of refreshing berry sauce.


In true Italian tradition, the seafood linguine ($19.75) was huge (enough for a full plate of leftovers for my husband). There was also a good selection of seafood that were cooked well: large and meaty scallops given a light smoky grill, crunchy shrimp, tons of mussels, along with clams and calamari. Even the pasta was slightly al dante – the building blocks to what could have been a fantastic dish.


But then everything lacked flavour … unless you count a quarter-cup of olive oil a predominant taste. The pesto sort of peeks through, but the acidity from the white wine you’d want to cut through the greasiness is non-existent. Some say lower sodium is good for the health, but for me I want taste (or at least a shaker at the table so I can kill myself). And as much as I love roasted garlic, the sheer amount was overpowering having had a few of them whole after mistaking them as fallen crustacean.

For me, the Shore is definitely not Port Credit’s finest, although it wasn’t horrible either - the restaurant does have abundant portions at reasonable prices. Rather, I wish it relied less heavily on fats for flavours and more on herbs, citrus and salt. In the end, take inspiration from your name – the Shore: incorporate the salt of the sea and keep out the oil.

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Mississauga, Canada
 Address: 71 Lakeshore Road East

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Shore Grill & Grotto Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Blue Cilantro (Grand Cayman)

Blue Cilantro Cayman Islands

If you’re looking for a posh restaurant, Blue Cilantro fits the bill: thick white linens and shining silverware all swathed in an azure blue, so it’s almost like you’re dining in an aquarium – a fancy one, of course. We sat in the solarium at the front, which was lightly air conditioned so we wouldn’t freeze in our dresses and cover-ups. The setting was tranquil, yet offered some people watching capabilities as it overlooks a busy main road.

Being a fine dining establishment, Blue Cilantro presented the customary complimentary bites: an amuse bouche of smooth pureed cantaloupe topped with crispy plantain chip and selection of fairly sweet chocolates at the end.


Two plump ravioli (CI$14) arrived in the appetizer portion – they looked great with a fairly thin pasta and glistening sauce. Indeed, the buttery pumpkin chorizo sauce even tasted good, with the truffle oil emitting a decadent scent. This dish could have exquisite if it weren’t for the overcooked lobster inside, robbed of its sweetness and reduced to what tasted like pieces of eraser.


Similarly, the yellow fin tuna (CI$14) appeared fantastic with its carefully placed mico herbs and artfully chosen colours. Yet the fussiness over powered the fish: shichimi spices, sweet pomegranate seed, pickled cabbage, horseradish cream, fried jalapenos and dashi! All great tasty ingredients and if limited to a few would have been delicious, but with them all was excessive for me.


It was the simple clay oven breads (CI$8 for four flavours) that finally satisfied.  A cross between freshly made naan and laffa, they are thin, smoky and chewy then enhanced with other ingredients.

\

With a variety of options to choose from, we tried many from the “stuffed” series: the pepper jack cheese (very difficult to not like melted cheese and bread), black forest ham (micro-fine pieces of the salty meat paired nicely with the pineapple chutney), and Yukon gold potato (incorporated some curry and heat, but I added extra jalapeño chutney to it anyways). The sole unstuffed bread was the roasted garlic, which was tasty, if not a tad oily, but went well with the sweet tomato relish.  

Wanting to end my last Caymans meal with more seafood, the Asian aromatic seafood (CI$39) main sounded like a blessing: a mix of lobster, scallops, shrimps, clams and mussels?!


Overall, like most of Blue Cilantro’s dishes, it presents better than it tastes. The young coconut broth promised hints of Thai, but really ended up being a sweet sauce that lacked other aromatics despite being a reddish-orange hue. Thankfully, the seafood was cooked adequately (although the shellfish needs to be soaked longer as the mussels and clams left a grittiness) and there was a nice selection to accompany the sticky sushi rice.

In the end, as I said, if you’re looking for a posh restaurant, Blue Cilantro has all the elements you’re seeking: fancy tableware, hushed attentive service and a serene environment. But, if you want to taste skillfully executed dishes it hasn’t hit the mark. After all, with the promise of lobster ravioli, glistening tunas and a seafood cacophony; it’s a tad disappointing when the most impressive dish was bread stuffed with potato, meat and cheese.   

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman
 Address: 1 Gecko Link (Fidelity Financial Center)

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Scoops Ice Cream (Mississauga)


The store’s name says it all: Scoops Ice Cream, a place where you’ll find a selection that gives Baskin Robbin’s a run for its money. Segregating their flavours between “artisan” and “non-artisan” options (the former costing about 80 cents more per cone), it seems like a shame to try anything but their special flavours.

After a filling meal, the mini cone ($3.30) was the perfect amount of ice cream: a nice full scoop of the Cappuccino Crisp. I liked that they kept the base, a cappuccino ice cream, not overly sweet so the dessert wasn’t overly heavy. Although, a stronger coffee flavour would help as the chocolate fudge swirled throughout over powered the ice cream. I rather enjoyed the pieces of crunchy bits mixed throughout, which added a great contrast against the smooth dessert.


Sadly, I didn’t realize I could get a homemade waffle cone (an additional 99 cents) until I was already at the cash, but the smell of toasting cones was enticing and intoxicating.

All in all, Scoops’ ice cream was decent and they do have a selection of tasty sounding flavours – Toasted Marshmallow, Peanut Butter Explosion, Birthday Party and Campfire S’mores some of the other ones that were beckoning. With no long line-ups and reasonable prices, save room for dessert if you’re in the Port Credit area. 


How To Find Them
 Location: Mississauga, Canada
 Address: 82 Lakeshore Road East


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:


Scoops Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Ding Tai Fung (Markham)

Ding Tai Fung

It’s a fake … I know, and it’s time to get over it. Sure, you can say Ding Tai Fung is deceptive by adding a “g” in their title, which allows them to sound like the Taiwanese conglomerate without using their actual name. But, if the massive soup filled dumpling powerhouse doesn’t care about this little known Markham outpost, why should we?

Especially since the restaurant does make a mean xiao long bao ($6.25); you can see the men standing around the table filling and pinching these pillows of joy. Interestingly, upon closer inspection, they actually look larger before being steamed.


How the ultra-thin wrappers holds all the broth and can withstand being pinched by chopsticks is still a small miracle. As soon as the lid is lifted I can’t wait to get my hands on these succulent pork dumplings.


Why we’ve never ordered the Shanghai wonton with spicy sauce ($7.49) until this visit is beyond me. There’s nothing fancy about the bite-sized pork wontons but the salty soy laced with chili oil and tart vinegar pairs so nicely.


The pan fried pork dumplings ($6.49) continues to impress with its crisp bottom and equally juicy filling. I could happily go through an order of these myself.


And I’m glad Ding Tai Fung doesn’t skimp on the scallions used in their green onion pancake ($3.99) – pan fried slowly (rather than deep fried) following the traditional recipe.


Grab a helping hand if you plan on sharing the braised beef noodles in soup ($8.99), the chewy doughy noodles impossibly long to land into a smaller bowl without some splashing. The soy sauce and beef stock broth is decent and there were plenty of pieces of not overly fatty meat to go around.


There were two passable dishes: the wrap used in the stewed beef pancake ($6.99) way too thick, giving the dish an overly doughy consistency detracting from the beef. Also, the sticky rice and pork siu mai ($6.49), pretty to look at but lacking any real flavours.


After a satisfying meal, do you still feel a little bad about Ding Tai Fung not paying its fair share of royalties? I can get over it. After all, they do have that “g” in their name … and for me it stands for great.

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Markham, Canada
 Address: 3235 Highway 7 (First Markham Place)


Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Ding Tai Fung Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Furlough (Toronto)

Furlough Toronto

The bar is a prominent feature at Furlough: it’s the first thing you see at the entrance, whomever’s at the bar will likely be the first to greet you warmly, and the array of bottles (including house made bitters and syrups) on display will peak interest. Cocktail aficionados know of the restaurant as a place to get tasty liberations - don’t be surprised to see guests coming in after 9pm on weeknights for a night cap.

Furlough Toronto: barFurlough Toronto: bitters and syrups

After all, when a drink menu is bound and wrapped in leather (compared to printed note cards used for food), you get a sense of what the restaurant specializes in – although to be fair the food was fantastic. In light of this, having a cocktail to start and end the meal, at least, is ideal. Although Furlough concocts a lot of the classics (Sazerac, Moscow Mules), there’s some interesting contemporary offerings that you won’t find elsewhere. Just imagine what they could be by the names: Tibetan Peach Pie, Monet, and Ask Me Tomorrow… getting interested yet?

Furlough Toronto: cocktails

To start we had a cocktail flight, which provides half portions of each drink. Offered on Wednesdays for $18, the flight is inspired by a theme that changes weekly - ours was an ode to gin:

  • Having had numerous French 75s ($14), I finally learnt the name doesn’t have any romantic wistful cogitations to the olden days of Paris; rather is named after the French 75mm gun on account of the kick from the absinthe incorporated in the original recipe! This compared to the cocktail we know today as refreshing gin shaken with simple syrup and lemon juice, then strained into a champagne flute and topped with sparkling wine. It’s hard to imagine such an easy going drink once being deadly.
  • A favourite of the table was the Last Word ($14), a concoction that seems strong as it enters the mouth but transforms into an utterly smooth finish; the herbal Chartreuse sneaks in first but everything’s mellowed out by the Maraschino liqueur and lime juice.
  • To end, an aptly named drink: the Happily Ever After, best described by my friend as “birthday cake in a cup”. The gin is infused with strawberries to give the liquor a vivid red colour and berry notes. Shaken twice, first with the egg whites and then with the other ingredients (pineapple syrup, vanilla syrup, Pinot and aperol), the resulting gin sour is silky smooth with the foam adding a frosting quality to the sweet cocktail.
Furlough builds their cocktails by using a variety of house-made bitters, syrups and infused spirits. In this end, it’s balancing the bitters and the sweets you get a boozy drink without it tasting like one.
The Basil and Elderflower Fizz ($14) is the perfect hot weather sipping drink. Refreshing muddled basil and vanilla is mixed with cooling cucumber, gin, elderflower liqueur and lime. Since it’s topped with sparkling water, it’s also a cocktail that helps quench your thirst.

Furlough Toronto: basil and elderflower fizz

If the cocktails on the menu doesn’t catch your eye, feel free to sit at the bar and throw out ideas. Wanting something with their delicious strawberry gin again, but also the bubbles of the sparkling wine, I concocted the Strawbasil Fields Forever ($14) (thanks to my friend J for the fitting name). Similar to the French 75, the strawberry gin is shaken with ice along with rosemary syrup and muddled basil, then strained into a flute and topped with sparkling wine. It’s exactly what I was craving and a little bird told me that you can order it as an off menu item.

Furlough Toronto: strawbasil fields forever

Throughout the process I was marveled by how much passion Gabriel Quigley exuded: a history professor when recounting about the origins of a cocktail or even bringing a scientific angle to the drinks while explaining why some have to be shaken vs. stirred (turns out James Bond has it all wrong). In the end, a mixologist is not unlike a sommelier: you need to know about the drink’s origins and how its properties will work with whatever it’ll be consumed alongside.


As much as I love a good drink, food is what wins my heart (the French bistro inspired dishes made by Chef Thomas O’Neill certainly had me swooning). Starting with the classic moules and frites ($15), the mussels fresh and swimming in a fantastic leek and confit garlic broth with pieces of chorizo on top for added flavours and spice. The shoestring fries were deliciously hot and crispy; the perfect vessel for dipping into the broth and sharing. 

Furlough Toronto: moules and frites

In fact, Furlough has a selection of starters that are great for sharing. Arriving with a heavenly scent, the ham hock croquettes ($9) are deep fried nuggets of hot mashed potato laced with pieces of pork. Sitting on the plate are a selection of condiments including a beer mayo and ramp mustard, but it’s the crunchy pieces of salted chicharron (pork rind) that made the dish.

Furlough Toronto: ham hock croquettes

Thankfully, there were plenty of crostini (on the plate and as a side) accompanying the Albacore tuna tartar ($15). The meaty diced pieces of fish were tossed with sesame oil to give off a fragrant aroma and all the crisp vegetables (radish, cucumber and pickled shallots) lightened the dish, a great choice for the warmer months.

Furlough Toronto: tuna tartare

Of course, Furlough also offers the sharing crowd favourites: freshly shucked oysters, that evening a dozen Mallet St. Simon ($42 for a dozen) served with a lovely mignonette, shaved horseradish and cocktail sauce (these go particularly well with the French 75), as well as a charcuterie board ($19) featuring a selection of delicious meats made in-house (a meaty chorizo, flavourful and rich mortadella, and salty Genoa salami) and cheeses (aged gruyere and stilton). Mixed throughout the board are toasted bread, a thick fig jam, lovely pickled beets and gherkins.

Furlough Toronto: oystersFurlough Toronto: charcuterie

The house-made bread even makes its way into their mains - the brioche chitarra ($19) incorporates the bread crumbs into the buttery topping. This pasta oozes the taste of spring with peas, sweet cipollini onions and bright mint. Touches of cream ties everything together into a hearty main.

Furlough Toronto: brioche chittaria

Of all the meat-based larger plates, the duck confit ($28) was the only slip as the fowl was extremely salty. Nonetheless, the duck was cooked perfectly with a crispy well-rendered skin and moist interior and the dish was salvageable by mixing slivers of the duck into the citrusy spaetzle, which helped mellow out the saltiness.

Furlough Toronto: duck confit

The striploin in the steak frites ($29) was also well prepared arriving spot on medium rare and having a lovely sear. Although the meat was good, we were all just excited to see more of Furlough’s fantastic fries … a bowl of these with cocktails could satisfy me any day.

Furlough Toronto: steak frites

What will have me returning for more is their fried chicken ($21) … it’s not French but oh so fantastic! Having been brined twice (soaked in liquid for flavour and then buttermilk for further moisture) the chicken is juicy and flavourful. The crust has enough coating for crunch but not too much to be overwhelming. Even the baby cabbage coleslaw on the bottom is jazzed up with pickled cauliflower and almond. There not a thing I’d change about the dish … except maybe include some of the Furlough fries on the side.

Furlough Toronto: fried chicken

For dessert we shared a combination dessert of their Curds & Cookies with a Deconstructed Black Forest cake. The bowl of curds is reminiscent of the British Eton Mess: plenty of whipped cream, a citrusy orange curd topped with crunchy shortbread crumbs and hazelnut praline. Meanwhile, the roasted chocolate flourless cake on the side is rich and slightly bitter with moist chocolate cake on top.

Furlough Toronto: cookies and curds

The dessert went really well their signature cocktail, the Furlough ($14). Essentially a digestif, the mixture of bitters and syrup helps to settle the stomach after the lovely meal. Unlike the earlier cocktails, this has a stronger bourbon base infused with a tobacco essence (sounds strange but actually works). It’s all lightened with patchouli syrup, cacao bitter and sweet vermouth; the finishing touch lighting the drink on fire with a spritz of atomized essence of cigar. In the end, the drink provides the smell of tobacco but tastes of cacao and an almost vanilla essence.

Furlough Toronto: the Furough

You’ll have a difficult time deciding where to sit: the bar (where all the action is) or the patio in the back (so tranquil and airy). Of course, you can always follow our lead and start with cocktails and nibbles at the bar and move into the patio for the main meal.

Furlough TorontoAdditionally, if $14 cocktails aren’t in your budget, consider visiting on Tuesday when the bartender on duty invents an innovative special for the evening for only $10. Of course, there’s also the aforementioned $18 cocktail tasting flights offered on Wednesday that gives you three half-cocktails. Combine these drink specials with their $35 3-couse prix fixe meal (that offers the fantastic fried chicken as one of the mains) and you’ll have an affordable meal.


Going on a furlough is essentially taking a leave of absence from work. At a time when the economy is a little shaky and work can be somewhat stressful, we could all use a break from the “real life”. The attitude at Furlough is relaxed and care free - expertly made cocktails and food without the snobbery. Dinner at the restaurant was lovely: its easy tasting drinks and secluded patio surely allowed me to leave my worries behind. 

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

Disclaimer: The above meal was complimentary. Rest assured, as noted in my mission statement, I will always provide an honest opinion.

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 924 Queen Street West

Follow me on twitter to chat, be notified about new posts and more - https://twitter.com/GastroWorldBlog
____________________________
Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!


Is That It? I Want More!

Other Gastro World posts similar to this:



Furlough Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato