Showing posts with label collard green. Show all posts
Showing posts with label collard green. Show all posts

The Carbon Bar Revisited (Toronto)

Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 99 Queen Street East
Type of Meal: Dinner

Earlier in the year, I dined at Carbon Bar when it first opened (for a description of the restaurant and to read about my experience go here). Recently, I heard on weekends they hire a DJ and the restaurant transforms into a lounge afterwards. During the winter, anywhere that minimizes outdoor travel times is welcomed, so a return visit was in order.

But, before the drinking festivities began, eating a substantial dinner seemed to be the responsible choice. Since the beef brisket ($22) was the highlight of my last meal it had to be ordered. Again, it was smoky, flavourful and tender – everything you’d want brisket to be. This time the dish was larger (albeit the price has also risen by $3) and contained various cuts of brisket ranging from marbled to lean.

The first fatty marbled slices were heaven, the meat was so soft and tender that it melted on the tongue. I didn’t even need the sweet molasses BBQ sauce as the brisket’s natural juices were so delicious. If you’ll be trying more than one slice, I suggest having the lean one first as after enjoying the marbled delight everything else pales in comparison.

More meat was in order, this time the dry-aged hanger steak ($27). Cooked to a perfect medium rare, the steak was very tender for this tougher cut of beef. Simply seasoned, the natural flavours of the beef shone through. An ample portion of hollandaise was included on the side if diners needed something saucy. The sauce itself was decent, but with so many rich ingredients donning the plate, I personally would have preferred something lighter (such as chimichurri).

Unlike the other dishes, the hanger steak had sides included. A pile of starchy smashed and fried potatoes that was tossed with some tart kimchi. Topping the mound was a fried egg whose runny yolk covered the potatoes in a gooey sauce. And a few soshito peppers as well. This was certainly a varied dish – with different cultural influences and a combination that makes it satisfying for brunch or dinner.

Not reading the menu properly, we also ordered a side of soshito peppers ($8). But, I enjoyed these non-spicy peppers so happily munched on more of them. The fire roasted eggplant dip which accompanied the bar snack was rather mild and forgettable, perhaps a dash of cayenne pepper or garlic would be a nice addition.

The TCB slaw ($4) is a side worth getting. It’s everything I enjoy about coleslaw – crunchy vegetables and a predominantly vinegar based sauce with a touch of creaminess. At Carbon Bar they also sprinkled crushed corn nuts on top which adds even more crunch to everything.

Lastly, was the side of collard greens ($5), this time simply dressed with a dollop of butter rather than stewed in a tomato sauce. There was still enough flavour to it and the leafy greens retaining some of its freshness. Another great side to pair with hunks of meat.

Perhaps it was the holiday season, but the restaurant really didn’t pick up after dinner. We moved over to the lounge area but the promised DJ and beats never happened. Nonetheless, some cocktails were sampled. The most impressive was the black mamba margarita ($16) which was set a blaze at the table. It’s a strong drink, not exactly my taste, made with charcoal infused tequila, Bowmore scotch, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, lime and a sea salt rim.

The volstead ($13) suited me better with a gin base, Amaro nino herbal liqueur, agave syrup, cucumber juice, lime and orange bitters. It was very refreshing and helped to alleviate the full feeling I had after all the meat.

A cocktail that’s perfect for the holidays is the borealis sour ($14). Despite the name, there’s nothing sour about it … if anything it’s sweet from the maple whiskey. Mixed with rye, banana liqueur and topped with a foamy egg white sprinkled with spices it’s a nice alternative to dessert.

Alas, I wasn’t able to work the calories off with music and dancing. But, the visit to Carbon Bar allowed me to have some great conversations and catch up with friends. And really, that is what the holidays is all about. Additionally, I feel the restaurant has improved since my first visit – for example, offering various cuts of brisket on one plate. So, it’s been awarded another 0.5 to round off their score to an eight.

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
  • - 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!