Sunday, February 21, 2010

My Place: A Canadian Pub, 2448 Bloor Street West

So I had been dying to try this place ever since it opened in September. Now, I wish I hadn't have consumed the calories. I hate to say this because Chef Brad Long seems like a good fella but it was really not so good.

I had a bad feeling as soon as I sat and was handed a dirty, crusty menu.

He gets props for creating a "Canadian" experience. He uses local where possible. The menu is sort of like a trip cross country. There are Nanaimo bars, bison ribs, Great Lakes Perch Po'boys, a tortiere and some mussels from P.E.I.


His charcuterie plate was lifeless. I have seen more excitement at a funeral. Grainy, dry kielbassa, a square of bland pate, one piece of non-descript cheese, some pickled veg - who cares? No salumi. Except for the bright and crunchy beets this was colourless and boring.

The fries were a scavenger hunt as you had to pick through them to find the crispy ones. The others were soggy and really, can someone change the fryer oil? It was old and I'm not really down with brown fries.

He makes his own mayo which you'd think would be a big wow but oh no it tasted like its' texture. Zero flavour.

His pierogies were sad and soggy. They were mushy and they stuck to the board they came on. Sigh. More like dim sum than potato dumplings.

Honeyed buttermilk breaded chicken with sweet and sour red onions and avocado on bisquits were cute but seriously, no where was there even an essence of honey and the onions were just onions. Again, a bland one.

At that point I was seriously scratching my head and getting irritated.

The only winner and even that is a stretch as we are just giving points for something tasting like something, were the pulled Berkshire pork sliders. The challah was toasty, the pork nice and wet and the dressing sweet.

To make matters even worse this place is expensive. Bacon and eggs are $15, fish and chips come in at $23 and nachos which our server said were small will cost you $18.

I'm sorry Brad but if Canada tastes like this, no wonder our tourism is failing.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Brunchcapades: Part One

As previously predicted, this year will be the year of the brunch and to fully embrace the trend I have added the word brunching to my vocabulary and am now embarking on a year’s worth of brunches. Affectionately titled ‘The Brunchcapades’, myself and a rotating roster of brunch companions will set out once a month to check out one of Toronto’s many brunch spots. So please join me in this adventure as I get ready to rise and dine.

Date: Saturday February 13, 2010

Time: 11:45 am

Location: Easy Restaurant, 1645 Queen Street West at Roncesvalles

Companion: Annette, teacher, friend of 11 years, likes her eggs ‘sunny side up’

Topic of conversation: bridesmaid dresses (we are both M.O.H’s this year), how we are going to spend our Saturday night, my new BlackBerry and general gossip about our mutual friends

I’m a brunch virgin. Other than a few buffets and a delicious visit to the old Mildred Pierce, I have never really been a bruncher. Truth be told, it’s because I generally have never risen let alone gotten dressed and been out the door before noon on the weekends. A bar virgin, I am not.

So I entered Easy Restaurant kind of bright eyed and bushy tailed. A little wet behind the ears with an excitement in my belly. I also had high hopes that my first brunch would be a hit. No one wants to start off on the wrong foot.

Well a hit it was.

Easy’s decor has an ‘easy rider’ biker/vintage car theme. The tables are distressed and the papers are free. A chalkboard menu proudly lists their smoothies and coffees (they serve illy coffee – need I say more?) The waitresses are all young and cute and nice, really nice. The place is jumping and it woke me up.

The menu is big and with so many good sounding items I go for the eggs benedict ($10.95) almost by default. I know I sound like a dud for ordering the ``benny`` when I could have had toast soldiers or a breakfast burrito but I think as simple as it is it`s a dish that can really speak to a kitchen`s capabilities. Hey if you can`t poach a proper egg...

I cautiously approached the dish not knowing where to begin or when to break the yolk. Like a little kid that shrieks as they squish a bug under their foot, I think it`s the fun part of eating an egg.

PS. I also don`t mind killing bugs.

The eggs were perfectly poached; light and fluffy with sunny centers. The muffins were rightly toasted. The use of grilled peameal over ham added a rustic classiness to the dish and the fact that their hollandaise tasted of buttery popcorn added an element of surprise. The hash browns took a back seat as they were crispy but not so flavourful. Nothing some salt and ketchup couldn't remedy.

Easy’s house specialty is heuvos divorciados ($12.50): two sunny side up eggs (of course Annette ordered this) sit on a flat corn tortilla and then get smothered with spicy green and tangy red salsas. Black beans are sprinkled about while guacamole and ancho chili jam hang out on the side. I was jealous of this one. It was so colourful. The flavours popped in your mouth and ancho chili kicks raspberry’s ass in the jam department. Thick pieces of buttery toast make the perfect dipping agent. She ordered the salad because I had the potatoes but it didn’t take long for her to start devouring it. According to her she needed, “ get this salad out of here so I can concentrate on all of this other goodness”.

I laughed.

We finished our illy’s and set out for some antiquing because we’ve heard that that’s what people do after they have brunch.

A vintage 80’s clutch and a faux gold necklace later, our adventure was complete.

Now Annette just has to save up for that chandelier.