Showing posts with label steak frites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label steak frites. Show all posts

Stock Bar at Stock T.C (Toronto)

There is pent up demand within households – that’s what’s frequently being said about the torrent of money that’s about to flow through the Canadian economy once the flood gate opens. I can see why they’re predicting this: once my friend scored a reservation at the new Stock Bar, the roof top and street-side patios at Stock T.C, we wouldn’t bail even though Toronto was hit with a day of rain. Under normal conditions, we would have rain checked the patio and gone for an indoor dining experience. But since that wasn’t possible in June, and we had already been relegated to takeout and delivery for months on end, we were going anyways.

We saw umbrellas over the tables in photos and thought we’d take a chance. It’s a bet that paid off as we scored one of the last tables where everyone would be properly shielded from the elements. I bet Stock T.C wished they invested in more umbrellas to ensure more tables could get the full coverage – despite the plethora of umbrellas, when they’re placed only to protect from sun, it means few tables are usable.

So, was the risk worth it? Under normal conditions, the food would be a disappointment. The tagliatelle all’astice ($45) was so over seasoned. It’s perplexing why the chef felt a dish with lobster and marinara – two fairly flavourful ingredients – would need so much salt and pepper. The crustacean became lost, they could have thrown in any protein, a neutral chicken would have worked better. And for a high price point, the pasta had a lot of cherry tomatoes and probably a claw-worth of lobster. I’d pass on the pasta.

The Stock steak frites ($26) was decent – the beef was a little chewy, but that’s also expected from a lean sirloin that’s cooked perfectly to medium rare. If I were Stock T.C, I’d leave the steak uncut. Sure, the presentation will not look as nice, but it will help the protein retain it’s heat more as a common complaint is the steak arrives cold and dry. I wouldn’t say it was dry, but the temperature was a problem.

Perhaps the best dish of the night was the funghi e burrata ($26) pizza, but even this wasn’t something I’d rave about. I enjoyed the ingenuity of pairing burrata with mushrooms (typically it arrives with basil or prosciutto), as the earthy fungi gives an interesting twist with the creamy cheese. Yet, since I had this last, the pizza had two things going against it: 1) it tasted bland… after the salty pasta anything would seem tasteless; and 2) the crust, while nice and thin, had become hard from the cold.

If people are sharing dishes amongst a table, the restaurant should recommend having the pizza come between the appetizers and the main, or even act as the starter if the table isn’t getting anything. That would help ensure people are eating the pie at its peak.

The pizza would have made for a nice interlude between the prosciutto con gnocco fritto ($17) and the steak and pasta. Even the fritto, fried pieces of puffed dough, had cooled by the time they reached the table. Nonetheless, they had a lovely aroma, and the prosciutto was shaved thin enough that even the heat of your hand starts to warm the fat enough to stick to the pastry. Since it was my first bite of freshly prepared food since 2020, that fritto was freaking fabulous.

Eating outside always presents the chefs with challenges and deteriorates the taste of a dish. And with restaurants trying to recoup lost revenue, survive with limited occupancy, and deal with rising ingredient costs, menu prices will be higher than the historical norms. In the end, expect to pay more for dishes that aren’t at their best.

Which brings me back to the point of the pent-up demand. Sure, I paid a lot for a subpar meal, but I still loved it.

Overall mark - 6 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 2388 Yonge Street


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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!


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CLOSED: Bacchanal (Toronto)



While Bacchanal translates to “an occasion of wild and drunken revelry”, the actual restaurant is calming - in a chic French manner. On my weekend visit, diners were sipping on wine and devouring sauce-laced dishes, yet remained in their seats. I guess the wine induced dancing-on-tables happen afterwards.

I was quite happy to tuck into the warm crispy baguette; their house-made red fife wheat loaf was legitimately delicious and full flavoured.


What was left of the bread was great for dipping into the paprika and sherry vinegar broth from the moules escabèche ($10). Served cold, the mussels are plump from the garlicky sauce it soaks in.


Oh the heavenly gnocchi Parisienne au sarrasin ($15), it’s as if the French borrowed the Italian potato pasta and the South’s mac ‘n’ cheese and turned into a molten love child. The creamy comté sauce smelled fantastic and the cheese was strong enough without overpowering the gnocchi. Don’t leave without trying it.


Steak and duck are two dishes I attempt to try at every French restaurant; my benchmark dishes for judging the mains at the place. Bacchanal’s steak frites ($24) were respectable, the 8oz flatiron steak done medium rare and relatively tender for the thick slice. Thankfully, the fries were actually thin (thick chip cuts aren’t meant for steak frites – leave that for the fried fish) and when hot ever so slightly melts the aioli.  


While the Magret de canard ($31) was cooked the requisite rare doneness and the rendered skin crispy, the duck breast could have been cut thinner so wouldn’t be as chewy. The plum glaze was on point to give the dish that traditional sweet and savoury flavour, and with a smear of the whipped foie gras heightened the taste even more.


Surprisingly, it was the sablefish sauce Gamay ($37) I liked the most. Not for the actual fish (properly flakey but under seasoned), rather it was the beluga lentil that impressed having soaked in the cooking liquid. Plus, the leafy colourful kale and trumpet mushrooms did make for an impressive looking presentation.


Bacchanal’s baba au rhum ($15) was an eye catching take on the classic dessert, thanks to the carefully piped white chocolate whipped cream. While the cake was delicious (the hint of spice enjoyable), the rum syrup needed more alcohol … after all, how will the restaurant live up to its name of creating wild and drunken occasions?


French restaurants seem to be the choice du jour for openings and Bacchanal is joining the masses. With more choices comes tougher competition… Bacchanal creates respectable dishes, but not good enough to make me want to travel out of my way for. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 60 Sudbury 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!

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Kelly’s Landing (Toronto)


Kelly Landing’s prime location in downtown Toronto has made it a popular place for me; typically for after work drinks but there’s been a lunch and dinner as well. Indeed, it’s a go-to place for many people – by 5pm there’s already a small line-up at the door. Yet, they’ve always seated reservations quickly and with their large space the only time I've been turned away without one is when there's a sporting event.

Having tasted the Moroccan curried chicken ($20) at their grand opening event, I wanted more. This was the first dish ordered during a return visit and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. Just as flavourful as I remembered, it combines North African spices creating a curry that has a good amount of heat, you’ll want a bit of the crema to help cool the tongue. The bits of almonds and apricots help add texture and there’s plenty of basmati rice and flatbread that you won’t leave hungry.


For a smaller meal, the pan seared scallops ($21) paired with salad is a good alternative. Being sizeable, the scallop arrives slightly raw on the inside with a great caramelized crust. There’s also a sweet and salty aspect to the starter thanks to the thinly sliced crispy pork belly and maple sherry glaze.


Despite not looking very appetizing, the nachos ($22) were really satisfying. It could be due to the ample cheese melted onto the chips and the jalapeño crema that adds a tangy kick to everything. With the crunchy peppers, onions, and olives there were sufficient ingredients on the nacho.


However, two ingredients were lacking: the Cajun chicken pieces were a little dry (perhaps a pulled chicken would be better) and the guacamole resembles a premade mixture from a tub, it’s a terrible puke green colour and lacks taste (the extra $3 to add it on was a waste).

Having seen other tables order the steak frites ($23), I had high hopes for the dish. When it arrived, it certainly looked impressive with beautiful grill marks and a glistening coating of sauce. Once I cut into it, the cooked through meat (when it should have been medium rare) was a huge disappointment. 


Moreover, it wasn’t a one-off incident as my friend’s was overcooked as well. Nevertheless, I begrudgingly ate the steak (our waitress did offer to re-fire both dishes but we didn’t want our other guest to wait around) and it was passable; at least well-seasoned and the hot demi-glace (likely partially responsible for the steak being overcooked) helped add moisture.

Overall, with some highs and lows, sadly the food isn’t as consistent as their staff’s friendly service. Yet, with their great location I’m sure I’ll be returning, I’ll just stick to the tastier items sampled at their opening event. 

Overall mark - 7 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 123 Front 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:

Kelly's Landing Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


King Taps (Toronto)


Walking into King Taps I got a sense of déjà vu. Especially on the second floor, where the bar area seems to be a replica of another popular downtown Toronto hang out, both restaurants top choices for after work drinks. By 5:30 it’s packed. Despite it being early for dinner, I still had to wait about five minutes for the reserved table to be set-up - others are told it’ll be an hour wait.

I can see why King Taps is so popular - the atmosphere is casual, drawing in people of all ages, and their food is tasty but moderately priced.

There is of course a host of shareable plates for those who want to nibble. The poke ($16.50) is really tuna tartare, a stack of chunked Albacore tuna, mango, and avocado dressed with delicious miso sesame-ginger vinaigrette. Tempura bits are placed on top but most of the crunch comes from the deep fried wonton chips, which is light enough to not detract from the fish.


The steak frites ($27) is a good complete meal since it comes with a side of lemony Caesar salad. King Tap sources their steaks from PEI, the 7oz sirloin cooked to a perfect medium rare, tender and juicy. If you’ve never had beef from PEI, it's said that if the cow grazes outside, you can taste the minerals and salt in their meat due to the island’s proximity to the ocean. At King Taps, the steak was properly seasoned and the saltiness well balanced.


While I would have preferred the frites to be the thin variety, the chunky fries were nonetheless hot and crispy. The only oddity was the abundant side of horseradish that arrives with the meal; a condiment rarely seen outside of prime rib and there’s a reason – it’s too strong for such a lean meat. A side of au jus or aioli would work better.

If you like seafood, the salmon and prawn risotto ($26) is a great choice – there’s a large piece of salmon that’s moist and flakey and at least four fair-sized prawns mixed into the rice. The risotto’s consistency is spot on, creamy with enough broth so that it’s not overly watery or dry. The dish was also flavourful, perhaps a touch salty if that bothers you, but the chunky mushroom pieces helped tone the seasoning down.


Aside from the atmosphere and food, King Tap’s service is also commendable: staff members are friendly but are also great at managing the experience – our waitress advised that if she put our entire order into the system, the food would arrive together. Hence, she proceeded to enter our appetizer first and then when she saw it was received inputted the mains. For such a busy restaurant it’s a shame this is something staff need to look after, especially when it can be prone to errors; surely someone should look at the ordering system and have it set-up for a two stage firing from the kitchen.  

Thankfully, the dessert order isn’t something they need to remember as well. King Tap’s sweet offerings consist of a number of sundaes. The strawberry shortcake ($8) was a nice light sharable ending with a fair amount of soft serve-vanilla ice cream, layered strawberry compote, a few pieces of fruit, and crispy graham cracker crumb sprinkled over top. Not overly fancy, but executed well and priced decently, much like the rest of their menu. 


Oh and for beer aficionados they also have 50 selections on tap, some are even special collaborations with local breweries. Being a wine drinker, I didn’t crack into the tap, but nonetheless left with a happy buzz.   

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 100 King Street West (in First Canadian 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:

King Taps Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

CLOSED: Brickyard Bistro (Toronto)


Brickyard Bistro is that neighbourhood restaurant I wish was part of my area. Opened by four friends, after their coffee shop hangout closed, one of the owners (Jesse Hughes) was actually there during our visit and I felt his passion. Upon entering, he greeted us warmly and seated us at an Instagramer’s dream table: the coveted marble tabletop adorned with a small vase of flower buds and situated in plenty of natural sunlight. Indeed, it made my Neil the designer cocktail ($10), a light gin and tonic with orange and juniper bitters, look extra refreshing.

Next time, I would order a glass of Ontario wine instead (not that the cocktail wasn’t good) - it turns out Jesse grew up in the Niagara-on-the-Lake region, so I’d imagine he has a keen sense of knowing what’s great. Moreover, the wine is reasonably priced from $9-$14 a glass and are even available in 2oz pours if you want to pair by the course.

Starting with their bread board ($10), it featured an in-house kale and cheese loaf made by Chef Jason Corey, warmed baguette, and a chipotle and a white bean dips. The warm cheese loaf smells heavenly and although the kale and cheese and flavours were prevalent, the dough needs more salt. Sure, you can add bean dip for flavour, but it’s a shame the bread can’t stand on its own.


Sorry there’s no picture, but I didn’t think it’d be worth featuring the bowl of leafy greens ($9). I was wrong, the seedy mustard vinaigrette used to dress the spring mix, cherry tomatoes, and radish was surprisingly tasty. Given it’s not an overly large portion, you could add on an order for some extra vegetables with the bread board. 

The daily fish ($20) for the evening was an Ontario pickerel – its skin could be crisper but, the fish retained its succulent meatiness. A thick tomato sauce with chunks of bacon topped the pickerel providing an extra richness to the dish. Yet, pairing the protein with all the vegetables kept the dish light.


Brickyard Bistro certainly doesn’t skimp on the fries in their steak frites ($21); the plate was covered in them, dwarfing the 6oz steak. Normally, I prefer the frites in a separate pile so they don’t turn mushy, but the coating on these were well done and being soaked in the beefy red wine reduction certainly added extra flavour.


Being a French restaurant, I was ready for some rich desserts. The peanut butter crème bruleé ($6) is fantastic, the peanut butter flavour is prominent while the bruleé sugar crust nice and thin, simply adding a caramel essence. Although by itself the chocolate Amaretto mousse ($6) was too sweet, when combined with the crème bruleé you end up with a fantastic peanut butter and chocolate dessert. Thanks to my friend for suggesting this ingenious idea – make sure you get both.



It’s a shame Brickyard Bistro isn’t located uptown or I’d definitely visit on a regular basis. Neighbourhood dwellers, you’re lucky to have the restaurant in your neighbourhood – with reasonable prices, tasty food, and warm service, perhaps it will become a favourite jaunt of your own.   

Overall mark - 8 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 1289 Gerrard Street 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!

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Lavelle (Toronto)


As you enter the stairwell off King West, doubts creep in about the legitimacy of Lavelle’s supposedly swanky entertainment space. Sure, the stairwell has been jazzed up – there’s colourful walls and even artwork - but it still leads to a somewhat dank basement elevator. Rest assured, if you follow the signs and push the right button in the elevator, you’ll soon be whisked up to the rooftop that opens viewing the spacious rooftop pool. Walk along the brightly lit corridor and you’ll soon find the dining area.

Should you arrive early, take the opportunity to sit at the bar and enjoy the view - the outdoors consists mostly of cranes and developing condo buildings, but inside the bar’s copper elements pratically gleams and sparkles. Albeit pricy (a single cocktail can cost up to $30), they concoct them right – the glass is chilled with ice cubes beforehand, certain ones shaken versus stirred. 

The Puritan ($17), a classic strong drink from the 1890s, is made up of three types of alcohol: gin, green chartreuse and vermouth. Oh you’ll taste the alcohol, especially the herbal properties of the chartreuse. The only respite is the bit of ice that’s melted into it, orange bitters, and the lemon rind that lets off a lovely aroma as you take each sip.

Despite discrepancies between the menu prices and actual charges for their appetizers (actual prices shown in post), they’re a fair sized portion and could work as a light meal when paired with salad. The steak tartare ($21) is a flavour bomb with a zesty kick from the spicy ketchup and horseradish. Finely chopped hazelnut and cucumber add a bit of crunch and bite that’s a nice contrast against the soft beef. Luckily, Lavelle doesn’t skimp on the crostini so there’s enough pieces to get through the heaping portion of tartare.


I’m torn about the cod cheek & leek ($19) starter. On one hand, it’s beautifully plated and certain elements on their own are delicious: the baby purple potatoes so creamy, the lightly dusted fried smelts a nice touch, and the nori cured duck egg a lovely custard consistency … oh wonderful salty yolk jelly. But then the smoked buttermilk foam sort of detracts from the dish and the cod cheek is seriously over salted. Although it looks like a pretty breath of spring air, for me, the elements together is more compost than bouquet.


A better seafood option is the Fogo Island cod ($29). The flakey neutral fish went nicely with the thick flavourful squid ink risotto (it stains the teeth, but tastes so good). Unlike the cod cheek starter, the other decorative elements actually enhance the dish – the small matane shrimp adding a contrasting sweetness and the pea shoots a refreshing element. For what seems like a light dish, it has a rich creamy finish that’s just as satisfying as any meat dish.


Although I was a little disappointed with the “frites” accompanying the steak frites ($29) – where are thin crispy stringy fries and why have they been replaced with these dense hunks of potatoes? - the flat iron steak was cooked perfectly and the rub on the outside already flavourful enough that the red wine jus wasn’t even required. For such a lean cut of meat, it was also surprisingly tender (probably on account of being aged), while retaining the full beef flavour.


Another fitting spring plate is the lychee and hibiscus dessert ($12). Pieces of cake soaked in a flavourful hibiscus syrup, a cool refreshing lychee sorbet, and crispy hibiscus meringue pieces have enough sweetness to be satisfying while still remaining light. I can see the citrusy floral fruit elements being a hit-or-miss with some guests, but the dessert is different and more interesting than just another cheesecake.


On weekends, Lavelle is party central. However, on a weeknight, it’s an oddly serene and calming environment - the half full restaurant offers a lot of personal space and service is attentive but not pushy (feel free to sit for three hours and chat, no one will bother you). It’s nice to go earlier and watch the sun set: from the dining room the view improves and soon the sky glows and the CN Tower lights up.


The restaurant was right to describe the rooftop as an “escape” from the city. High above the bustle you start to forget about the traffic and commotion. “What schedule?” you start to think, for now that doesn’t matter and another glass of bubbly is all you need.  

Overall mark - 7.5 out of 10


How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 627 King 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:



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

CLOSED: 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

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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!


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