Showing posts with label sticky toffee pudding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sticky toffee pudding. Show all posts

The Abbot Pub and Fare (Toronto)

Having recently moved, the change in location means a new local watering hole and a whole slew of fresh establishments to dine at. In the area, there’s a fair number of casual eateries and regardless of the evening, pubs such as The Abbot are filled. Rain, snow, cold weather … nothing will stop North Yorkers from getting a cold glass of ale (or in my case, wine).

As the calamari ($12) was presented, the tell-tale perfect rings signified frozen seafood. Get ready for the shriveled insides and coating that falls off, I thought to myself. Surprisingly, my worries didn’t materialize and the appetizer was decent – the calamari relatively plump and the light crispy coating adhered just fine on the seafood.

It doesn’t seem fair to write about a pub without trying a couple of their staples: fish and chips or a burger. Sadly, the staples are also what the Abbot seems to rest on their laurels with.

I’m told the thick oily batter on their fish and chips ($15) is a typical English style. For me, it’s too heavy and despite the pieces of fish actually being quite thick, still remained buried in coating; especially the ends that were so mummified I had to peel them off. Perhaps if the batter actually incorporated enough of the “Abbot Ale” or there was some other flavour incorporated into the coating it’d be better. Unfortunately, each piece of fish simply tasted like oil … the only respite was once I doused it with a liberal splashing of malt vinegar or added the respectable coleslaw to the mix.

The beef burger ($14 with an extra $2 for cheddar and caramelized onions) looked impressive with a thick patty, colourful garnishes and a fluffy buttered bun. Looks can be deceiving as upon biting through the bun everything was just… so … plain. Aside from the liberal squirt of ketchup, I really couldn’t taste much else. Despite being warned that their burgers are cooked to medium (the proper way any real burger should be prepared, in my mind), the actual patty arrived completely cooked through.  

Maybe it was an off evening and the cooks simply forgot to dip into the spices. Somehow, both dishes were so bland – even the tartar sauce could only add so much interest to the fish and chips. I know what you’re thinking, there’s salt on the table, just sprinkle it on. Sure, this helps a bit but I’m a firm believer that what makes a dish good is the layering of flavours (i.e. having spices incorporated into the beef patty and sauce on the burger bun) so that everything works together. Moreover, making a dish taste good relies more than just salt … that’s just table stakes.

Another visit yielded tastier meals. The chicken and waffle ($20), a special for the evening, had an amazing side: the bacon and Brussels sprouts hash was bang on in terms of flavours as the slivers of vegetable and soft bacon melded together into a wonderful accompaniment. I could have easily had a large plate of the hash as a meal.

Although showing promise, the chicken and waffles just wasn’t executed very well. The coating on the chicken was nicely seasoned (the saltiness pairing nicely with the maple bourbon glaze) and the meat was juicy, yet the breading fell off as soon as the knife pierced through. Chicken meat with hard crispy shards of coating anyone? The buttermilk waffle was made with a delicious batter, but so dense it could have been pancakes; the soft cake-like texture good on its own, but much too heavy for fried chicken.

The sole dish I’d order again is the beef brisket ($22). Each thick slice of meat so tender and flavourful, having been braised in beer. It’s a real "stick to your ribs" comfort dish paired with buttery scallion mashed potatoes. Mmm… meat and potatoes, perhaps this is what pub fare is all about.

The Abbot does offer a great rendition of sticky toffee pudding ($8), served hot in a ramekin that keeps all the buttery syrup soaked into the soft cakey cinnamon bread. Yet, the syrup isn’t overpowering – just sweet enough to bring justice to the dessert, but balanced out by the neutral whipped cream on top that adds a creaminess to everything.

What I’ve learnt from attending the local restaurant: forget about the fried dishes, go for the meat and potatoes. And by all means, save room for dessert!

Overall mark - 6.5 out of 10

How To Find Them
 Location: Toronto, Canada
 Address: 3367 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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