CLOSED: SpeakEasy 21 Revisited (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 21 Adelaide Street West (street level)
Type of Meal: Lunch

It seems like every time I return, something is changing about the place - read about my first two visits hereJust a month since opening they've already revamped their lunch menu with new offerings - albeit increased prices for their tacos (previously 3 for $15 and now $6 apiece). The good news is the changes, in my opinion, are in the right direction - they've earned an extra 0.5 on their Gastro World mark. With various shared plates, it certainly makes it easier to mix and match to your stomach's content. My friends and I are huge fans of sharing; ordering two small plates, a taco each and a sandwich was more than enough to satisfy the three of us.

SpeakEasy's beef tartare ($15) is one for those who like the taste of raw beef but not necessarily the texture. Served flat and topped with tons of ingredients (dried egg yolks, chives, horseradish, capers and Caesar aioli) it's packed with flavours and a great way to start the meal. However, I sense that if you're a tartare traditionalist, this may not be the one for you given the beef does become lost and almost secondary in the dish.

The pork belly skewers ($14) were a hit with us covered with a sweet bourbon glaze. Although the flavour was fantastic, the evenness of the cut of meat needs improvement as there was a skewer which was almost all fat (quite frankly these pieces should simply be discarded rather than served). But, the skewers where the meat and fat ratios were more balanced, the combination of melting chewy fat and tender meat was delicious

We all opted for the baja fish taco ($6); it holds up to the other fish tacos around the city (although the fish could have been a larger piece). Battered and deep fried then covered with guacamole, lime crema, mango chutney, pickled slaw and hot sauce there was enough flavours and textures within the taco to make it interesting. I would suggest the chef considering using two tortillas as the ingredients easily broke through making it messy to eat – we unanimously agreed these are not first date or business lunch friendly.

Entrée salads and sandwiches are on the menu for those who simply don’t like sharing. The fried chicken club ($18) contained a good sized piece of crunchy deep fried chicken breast, which could have benefited from being cooked a little less as was starting to border on dry. Luckily, there was plenty of guacamole and smoked chili aioli on it to add moisture and flavour. With the breading and crispy pieces of bacon the texture of the sandwich was spot on, pairing well with the soft brioche bun.

As with previous visits service was friendly and pleasant. Lunch continues to be a safe time to visit as they aren’t overly packed and dishes appear in quick succession. Here’s hoping the improvements continue with each visit!

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • - 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!