Archive for Downtown east

Winchester Kitchen and Bar

Winchester-bar

I wouldn’t say I believe in polygamy, but I do understand the appeal of wanting to have little tastes of a variety of things.

Hmm. Too much?

If bites of this and that are up your alley, you’ll want to visit the Winchester Kitchen and Bar in Cabbagetown. This little restaurant-bar is actually steeped in history: it’s said that Al Capone used to stay in the building when it used to be the Winchester Hotel).

Winchester dining area

But anyway – on to the food. As mentioned earlier, the Winchester offers a variety of small and big plates, as well as a five course prix fixe. I love the idea of tapas and small plates, and they certainly offer quite a variety.

We ordered a couple of dishes from the ‘small’ section of the menu – the Cast Iron Calamari ($12) and BLT Poutine ($14) – as well as a side of Brussels Sprouts ($5). Bigger dishes include Steak Frites, Beef Tenderloin, and Risotto.

Winchester BLT poutine

(apologies for the poor photos!)

The BLT poutine was bigger than we expected, and contained numerous chunks of tender, sweet pork belly. I felt it could have done with a few more cheese curds, but the pancetta and pork belly scattered throughout made up for it. I found the arugula that was piled on top a little odd – it didn’t ruin the dish or anything, but it wasn’t adding anything to it either.

Winchester calamari

My calamari looked simple enough – just what looked to be boiled calamari in a tomato-based broth – but more of those delicious piggy chunks were in this dish too, in the form of chorizo. The chorizo was really tasty, and the broth was delicious when scooped up with some bread, but the calamari was just a tiny bit over-cooked.

Winchester brussels sprouts

The pig theme carried over to our side of sprouts – double smoked bacon was in the dish, and the sprouts themselves contained a similar wonderfully smokey flavour. Little kids would have no trouble eating these greens!

We also grabbed a new-to-us beer (the Flying Monkeys Dark Ale) which was fantastic. It was good to see a local craft brewery being represented, although I would have liked to see a full beer list included on the menu.

Service was friendly throughout the night, and we both felt the menu was well-priced. The ambiance, however, was a little off. I feel like the space could be brightened up a little bit, and the interior is laid out a bit strangely (there’s a really big space between the bar area and the tables, but it’s not quite a dance floor, it’s not quite standing room for the bar…it’s just ‘there’).

You may be a one-woman kinda guy, but I guarantee the Winchester’s small plates will get you thinking…

 

Winchester Kitchen & Bar

51 Winchester St

Toronto (Parliament & Wellesley)

 

(416) 323-0051

 

http://www.winchesterkitchen.com

 

Winchester Kitchen & Bar on Urbanspoon

 

We were a guest of the Winchester Kitchen & Bar. Thanks for having us, guys! This was an unpaid review.

House on Parliament

There are a few things in life that are perfect matches for one another. Peanut butter and a spoon. Hangovers and The Food Network. Hot chocolate and cold weather.

You can definitely satisfy the latter at House on Parliament. This pub/restaurant serves up comfort food at it best: think grilled cheeses, Sunday roast dinners, and classic pub food.

On a recent Sunday night the place was packed, but we were lucky to snag a free table in the cosy upstairs area. House is a terrific venue for when you’re in the mood for a chilled out, comforting meal or drink: it lives up to its namesake and is a welcoming, relaxing space.

D and our pal M ordered the Sunday special roast dinner, which included steak, Yorkshire pudding, vegies, and a bread and butter pudding for dessert (around $17). I went with the pulled pork sandwich and fries (around $12).

My meal was an absolute bargain. We didn’t get a photo of it, but the pork was piled high on a very soft white bun. There were so many shoe-string fries they were practically falling off the plate. The sauce was very smokey, with a subtle sweetness. What I loved the most was the variety of texture of the pork: some pieces were thick, some pieces were thin and shredded finely.

House Roast

D and M were happy with their plates, too (above): I snagged a taste of the steak, and it was quite tender and flavourful. Unfortunately our waiter forgot about the bread pudding for dessert and we had to remind him. We thought getting dessert was a pretty good deal, but the portion was rather small, although tasty.

We grabbed some beers too – House has a small, but excellent selection including the Wellington IPA that we tried:

Welly IPA

As well as popular but harder-to-find beers like Blanche de Chambly and Innis & Gunn.

While service was a little slow, our waiter was so apologetic and friendly that it didn’t really bother us.

It seems there’s now a new pair to add to the list of perfect matches: House on Parliament and comfort food.

 

House on Parliament

Restaurant and Bar

 

454 Parliament St (Parliament & Carlton)

Toronto

 

416-925-4074

 

http://houseonparliament.com/

The House on Parliament on Urbanspoon

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Stonegrill on Winchester

D and I recently went for dinner at Stonegrill on Winchester. The restaurant is not to be confused with the Winchester Bar & Grill, which is a separate establishment upstairs. I know this because after our meal, I enthusiastically tweeted at the Winchester Bar & Grill kids about it…bit embarrassing, but all was forgiven.

Anyway – Stonegrill is known for serving meats via the stonegrill self-cooking method, which is popular at Japanese restaurants. Basically, you get your choice of meat (there’s beef tenderloin, ostrich, seafood, and venison, to name a few), you get a large piping-hot stone slab, and you’re able to cook away, right there on the table.

We opted to order non-stonegrill dishes. Why? Well, cooking a meal myself doesn’t really appeal, and the stonegrill dishes were pretty expensive for us ($34 for tenderloin).

Instead, I ordered the Seafood Linguine ($24), and D went with the Chicken Roulade ($26). We also received complementary bread – crunchy, buttery garlic toasts served with a thick tomato pesto-like sauce – which was amazing.

Stonegrill seafood linguine

I was surprised when my linguine came out: this sucker was huge. The bowl was piled high with a ton of mussells (basically an entree size just of mussels), four plump scallops, a few octopussy, and a few shrimp. I happily dug in, but was a bit disaspointed when I got to the pasta underneath all of the seafood. It was in the runniest sauce imaginable – it honestly looked like a soup. This was a real shame, as the rest of the dish was very tasty and terrific value overall.

Stonegrill on Winchester Chicken Roulade

D’s Chicken Roulade (sorry for the terrible photo) was also a generous serve of a bacon wrapped chicken breast stuffed with lobster, mozzarella, spinach, and basil, finished with cilantro pesto cream sauce. In theory this sounds fantastic but in reality, there’s just too much going on. The chicken was tender and juicy and the cilantro pesto was delicious, but everything was just competing for attention. Perhaps if one or two elements were taken away, the dish would have been better.

The service at Stonegrill on Winchester was some of the best we’ve experienced in a long time. Our waiter was super-friendly, helpful, and warm. The ambiance is quite nice at this place, too – I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s an ideal first-date venue, and they’re right. It’s quiet but not boring, cosy yet roomy, and is just dark enough so you look more attractive to your date.

 

Stonegrill on Winchester

Restaurant

 

51B Winchester St (Parliament & Wellesley)

Toronto

 

Ph: 416-967-6565

 

http://www.stonegrillonwinchester.com

Stonegrill on Urbanspoon

Stout

Stout beer

D and I had walked past Stout many times, only mildly curious about what was inside. From the exterior, it doesn’t look like much; I’m not sure if this is due to its location at the scummier end of Carlton St, or because the windows are a bit dark and you can’t really see the wonderful JOY that is inside.

The inside bar is spacious, warm, and very cosy – think big leather armchairs, lots of seating, and thick carpet. We were led outside to the cutest little patio, complete with fake turf under our feet (hey, it worked), and fairy lights up above. I counted roughly 50 seats outside, and while it was packed on the night we visited, we managed to snag a table.

A friendly waitress came over to take us through the beer menu. When she flipped open one side, I squealed inwardly. I had no idea Stout had such a fantastic beer selection! More than 20 on tap, and about 30 bottles – basically all craft beer too. What I loved about the menu was while there were familiar beers (Mill St, Muskoka), there were also a lot I had never heard of (Flying Monkeys Hoptical Illusion, Taps Brewing Chuck Norris Roundhouse).

I had a Muskoka hefe-weiss, and D went with the Spearhead Hawaiian Ale. The Muskoka is a lovely, rich wheat beer, with honey notes rather than the usual fruity flavours that accompany weiss styles. D enjoyed the hoppy, refreshing Spearhead – and you all know I’m a fan of it already.

We were basically drooling over the brunch menu (stuffed french toast!), so I can say we’ll definitely be back. I’m just a little worried. Being so close to a place with such wonderful beer, service, and cute patios will prove to be dangerous to my wallet (and liver).

 

Stout

Pub and Restaurant

221 Carlton St East (Carlton & Parliament)

Toronto

 

647-344-7676

 

http://www.stoutirishpub.ca
Stout Irish Pub on Urbanspoon