CLOSED: THR & Co. (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 97 Harbord Street
Type of Meal: Dinner

THR & Co. (short form for The Harbord Room & Company) is situated two doors down from the first restaurant with a slightly larger dining room and menu.  The food offerings are similar (pastas and proteins); but, in the place of the iconic burger are pizza pies (three on the menu and usually a daily special as well). All pastas include an option of a half or full size, which makes it great for trying multiple ones or having as an appetizer (coincidentally what I did).

My starter of black spaghetti ($13; half portion shown or full portion available for $19) gets it colour from the squid or cuttlefish ink added into the dough.  Aside from its dark colour, the ink also adds a seafood like essence to the pasta making it quite flavourful even without a sauce.  THR & Co. serves the pasta aglio e olio style (essentially with a garlic and oil based sauce) allowing the seafood flavours to shine through.  As a warning, there is a lot of oil in the dish; I found it to be to too much and ended up scooping up the pasta into my side plate in order to wipe some of the oil off.

Pieces of charred squid and bottarga (a Mediterranean cured fish roe) add a deep briny seafood taste to the spaghetti and made me reminiscent of a heavenly plate of spaghetti I had sitting ocean side at Positano’s port.  It’s hard to describe but is a complex flavour that floods the mouth and is likely an acquired taste.  The addition of poblano and pequin peppers add a spicy kick to the pasta that’s unexpected but delightful.

My husband opted for the beef heart tartare ($12) which sounds off putting but is actually very delicious.  Not as chewy as normal beef tartare, the heart is much lighter and allows the dish to become almost pâté like while still retaining some distinctive pieces.  The beef was very well flavoured with salty green olive relish, a light espelette (type of pepper) mayonnaise, a dusting of cured duck yolk and drizzles of Banyuls vinegar (a French wine vinegar).  With all the different flavours you can’t even taste the beef heart!  Served with a light fried chip (which may be the crispy tendon that’s noted on the menu?) rather than bread the texture is a great smooth and crispy contrast.  The crispy chip is light and airy; the consistency a mix between pork rind and a shrimp chip (without their flavours).

Continuing with the carbs, I had the dandelion and ricotta pizza pie ($14) as my main. It arrives with a fried egg in the middle, which the server breaks with a spoon and smooths over the hot pizza to allow the egg yolk to cook. Salty pieces of pancetta, thinly slice potatoes and white cheddar shavings top the pizza – all nice simple flavours.  I particularly like the rosemary leaves sprinkled on top along with smoked salt giving the pizza a wonderful earthy essence.  The dandelion is broken down into the oil based sauce spread onto the dough and along with the ricotta are neutral tasting letting the other ingredients shine through.  The crust is thin, crispy and has a great corn meal crusted bottom that you can actually hold in your hand without it drooping.  Each pizza is served with a pair of scissors making it a breeze to cut and share.

The rib eye’s ($28) chimichurri sauce was delicious and helped cut through the fattier cut of steak.  Alas, both steaks ordered at our table arrived extremely overdone.  The over doneness is likely done to the steak being cut too thinly (less than an inch thick).  Normally, if a cheaper cut of beef like a flat iron or skirt steak is used, the thinner cut may be warranted.  However, the rib eye is such a well-marbled cut that a thicker cut can be withstood.  Nonetheless, the steak was still tender and well flavoured from the sauce and pat of marrow butter.

My husband ordered a side of summer succotash ($6) to accompany the otherwise unadorned steak.  It was a great side for the warm weather made up of kernels of sweet corn, zucchini, pearl onion and grape tomatoes.  Unlike the other dishes that are very strongly flavoured, the side was minimalistic with the natural flavours of the vegetables.  It also had a small square of grilled corn bread that I never had a chance to try as my husband gobbled it all down.

Each day THR & Co. offers a selection of home-made ice creams and sorbets ($5/scoop).  During our visit, we sampled beautifully adorned coconut, strawberry, buttermilk and dulce del leche scoops.  They were all delicious with each person at the table liking a different flavour.  My favourite was coconut, which had a nice light taste.  My husband’s favourite was the creamy buttermilk drizzled with honey. The strawberry sorbet was topped with savoury bits giving it a nice sweet and salty combination. 

Served with the dessert was a shooter of home-made lemoncello ($7) which has a splendid citrus smell that is so refreshing after a heavy dinner.  With just a hint of lemon and sweetness, this is a very easy drinking.

I also tried the Tall Confession ($12) made from gin, mint syrup, cucumber soda and fresh lime juice, topped with blueberries and a wedge of cucumber.  Despite it being a brilliant pink colour, it’s not like a girly cosmo – the Tall Confession is light and refreshing, a great summer cocktail.

Overall, THR & Co. appears to be a place that offers something for all.  During our visit, there was an eclectic crowd of patrons of vary ages and cultures.  Perhaps what draws people in is the friendliness of the staff and their laid back attitude – we saw them joking and helping each other and got the sense that they genuinely liked working there.  Even though there’s a finer dining flair to the place (as noticed by the cutlery change with each course), things are still down-to-earth and comfortable.  The postcard below arrived with our bill, cute but must have a hidden message – can someone please tell me what this means?!

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

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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!