Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Liberty Village

William's Landing, 120 Lynn Williams Street

This bar and grill is the village's newest addition. So new that last week's visit saw wet paint signs and a ton of construction still under way. The menu stresses local, fresh and organic which isn't a new concept and quite frankly should just be a given but nonetheless we are still seeing restaurants riding the coat tails of these buzz words. We skip lunch as the space just feels too incomplete.

Our server recommends the Bloody Caesar because it's "killer". It is not. It lacks spice despite the hot pepper that swims at the top. The addition of basil leaves makes it taste like tomato sauce. The beer list is respectable so we stick to that. A few pints in, we share the 'Liberty dip'. It's hummus with ancho chillies, feta, avocado crema and pico de gallo. The dip itself is underwhelming and the chips are over seasoned and the flat bread stale. The highlight is the patio. It's spacious and provides a great view of the historic buildings of Liberty Village. A great place for some sunshine and a cold beer.

The Liberty Belle Bistro, 133 Jefferson Avenue

This tiny bistro is tres cute. A small patio in front provides refuge from King Street and is a great spot to enjoy some wine and classic French food. A strong attention to detail is evident in everything from the 1920's postcard menus to the black and white tiled floor to the stalls in the washrooms. You have to see the washrooms. The women's has wooden stall doors with velvet curtains and complimentary fem products while the men's stall door is made from an antique refrigerator door. I hate to talk about toilets but it's not often that you are pleasantly surprised by them.

Like the space, the menu is also small. The french onion soup is cheesy with just the right amount of crouton and onions. The broth is rich and cloudy. A steak tartar is under seasoned but finely diced. It needs cornichons. The braised short rib is the opposite and is way over salted. The accompanying mushroom risotto is the correct consistency and full of the kind of woodsy'ness you expect from mushrooms.

Definitely worth a visit.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A little Mexican in The Junction

The Junction is that stretch of Dundas Street West between Keele and Runneymede that is both seedy and shady and yuppy and artsy. It’s home to some cool home outfitting stores such as Cornerstone and Forever Interiors. There is also Margret, the most bizarre bar I have ever been to in Toronto and The Sweet Potato, an organic grocery store.
The dinner options are sparse with a little pho, some Thai, a place for Indian and a cafe that boasts an organic brunch.

Enter La Revolucion, 2848 Dundas Street West, a Mexican restaurant . Like everything else in The Junction, it feels a bit disconnected. The owner is Mexican, the kitchen is Mexican, the menu is authentic. The walls are white, Jazz FM 91 is on the radio and the space is cheaply lit with IKEA track lighting. There is a Mexican flag that hangs at the back of the room and Frida makes an appearance but I’m not feeling it. I’m not waiting for a Mariachi band to spring into action but perhaps a little colour, maybe some cool Latin pop music and a margarita that doesn’t rival a watered down glass of limeade would be the ticket.

Thank god the chips and guacamole take me south. The guac is the perfect consistency. It is as smooth as velvet but with the appropriate amount of opposing soft chunks of avocado. Finely diced tomato dot the little dish and lime and cilantro are holding their own. It’s spicy too. Really spicy. Like not for the faint of heart spicy. The chips are crunchy but unfortunately taste like they were deep fried yesterday.

A chorizo flauta; house made sausage mixed with potato and rolled in a flour tortilla with cheese, sour cream and chives is the waitress’ favourite thing on the menu. It’s mine too. The sausage is out of the casing and simmered in smoky spices until soft and tender. The potato is so fine and weightless you almost forget it’s there. After rolling, it gets baked until the tortilla is lightly browned and super crispy.

Shrimp tacos are too sauce laden and the shrimp are too small. Their shrimpiness is masked by the rich, pepper sauce. There’s talk of mayo but I don’t see it.

Grilled chicken tacos are a better bet. The meat is white and tender albeit a little dry but it doesn’t take away from the light and fresh of it. A few onions, some cilantro leaves and house made salsa verde bring the green that they need but I want a little red. Every taco needs some fresh salsa and some red hot sauce on the side.

I hope for Tacos Al Pastor but they are only available on Taco Tuesdays when you can get them for $2.

Today is Wednesday.

Our dinner for two is somewhat el cheapo with two apps, two orders of tacos, three drinks, tax and tip adding up to a reasonable $62.00 but hey, who am I to turn down toonie tacos?

La Revolucion may need a bit of tweeking but it is definitely a nice addition to a the strip.