Having read something of the ups and downs of SWB's early days and licensing issues courtesy of the Ontario nanny state's minions, we went there last night, cold and tired - and were delighted to find on-street parking once we spotted the very discreetly-signed restaurant!
The hostess welcomed us warmly and offered to take our coats. We had reserved but the restaurant was only about half-full with a youngish demographic including a family group celebrating a birthday. The lighting was just right for my tastes - low, and the candle-lit atmosphere overall was welcoming thanks to wall and table flames and the beautiful woods and well -spaced tables.
Service was at first a trifle erratic - one or two items on the menu clearly unfamiliar to our genial waiter or the young ladies despatched with some of our plates - but proceeded apace and seemed to become more knowledgable or better briefed, anyway, as the evening proceeded. Our ice warer glasses were kept filled, and that is a big plus in my books.
My friend began with a martini manhattan made with bourbon - a bit sweeter than he would normally have preferred it - while I had a glass of dryish white Spanish wine, to whose cousin we then switched for a bottle of red. A premium chorizo, cut in thin slices - very good - and an absolutely delicious plate of little ham and cheese croquettes accompanied our drinks.
We then proceeded to the very best dish of the evening - poached or lightly fried foie gras on toast with pears and what seemed to be an apple-pear and apple butter reduction. It was incredibly delicious - a fair thinnish slice, bursting with flavour and done exactly to that point between mere warmth and molten dissolution! At $16 a head it isn't inexpensive, by any means; but that price point is a good deal less than inferior versions sold all over town in supposedly grander places.
As we waited briefly for our next choices to appear, we reflected that nothing could come near the foie. Well, we were wrong. Two "sandwiches" each in its way was a mean competitor in the scrumptious category. One was of pulled pork, tomato, guacamole (which I scraped off detesting the oiliness of that over-rated dip - it was clearly mentioned on the menu and another time I would ask for it to be omitted) and a spicy-sweet sauce more complex than one might get at a bbq joint. Wow - it was amazing. No less delectable, if slightly undersalted, was a parallel "sandwich" of wagyu short rib beef and seasonings. Both were generous-sized portions cut in two for our ease.
My friend not liking sweets, we moved to port - a bottle was concocted for us out of two 10 yr old Taylor's Tawny vessels - and cheese. We found the cheeses the weak point of the evening, not that they weren't tasty, but even the Spanish ones seemed unexceptional, and the pricing of the minuscule portions (25 g) was a bit much. We both thought afterwards that a reasonably priced sparkling wine with a few sweet tapas might have provided a more original and lighter conclusion to the meal.
Before we knew it, three hours or so had passed and we were out the door to face the cruel wind's wild lament and the bitter weather lol. As always happens at tapas-like places, seemingly-modest prices add up as one orders more dishes. To be fair, we did not stint on our alcohol.
With tax and tip we hit the $340 mark.
We enjoyed our evening terrifically and hope this place gets the custom it deserves.
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