I was at The County General for an early dinner on Friday with my DH and two friends. We ordered about 85% of the menu to share:
- deviled eggs
- bean and ham soup
- fried chicken thigh sandwich
- the county burger
- smoked pork belly steamed buns
- chicken fried two ways
- heirloom tomato sandwhich
- apple pie
I suppose that at first glance, the menu comes off as simple home cooking or comfort food. But the quality of the ingredients and the execution raise the food to a wonderful level. First off, I'll say that I never order chicken out at restaurants because it's inevitably boring and dry. But The County General has chicken nailed -- flavourful, juicy, even a bit pink in the middle. The fried chicken thigh sandwich was one of the favourites of the night for all of us, but the chicken fried two ways deserves a mention as well. It's two enormous chicken breasts, each with a different preparation, deep fried, sliced and served with an array of fresh toppings and condiments and bibb lettuce to make lettuce wraps with.
Everything else was equally excellent. The soup was a perfect bowl on a cool fall day -- delicious and hearty and almost a meal unto itself. The deviled eggs were creamy and tasty and a deal at $1.50 for two halves (Origin is up to $6 or $7 now, I think). The county burger was cooked a beautiful medium -- totally pink and juicy with a great crust. Simple and beefy and delicious, said my DH (and at $12, including frites, probably the best "upscale" burger deal in town). The steamed pork buns were another tasty treat. 3 in an order, each with a different set of toppings: one with coleslaw, one with kimchi and one with avocado and cliantro (I think).
The star of the night, however, was the heirloom tomato sandwich. Gorgeous thick slickes of tomatoes with a white cheddar, mayo, avocado and fresh basil between two slices of rustic bread, oiled and grilled. The tomatoes were so perfectly ripe and tomato-y that you wonder why you ever bother with the nasty, mealy, out-of-season tomatoes from the store. It was like eating a cross between the perfect caprese salad and the perfect bruschetta in sandwich form. Sadly, Victor told us that they were getting their last shipment of tomatoes from the County today -- the County had frost the other night, so that is probably the end of tomato season. So if you love good tomatoes, go this week before they have to change the menu.
Desserts were equally homey and delicious. The salted caramel chocolate cupcake was easily my favourite cupcake I've had in Toronto in ages (I bought two to bring home with me). The chocolate cookies were really nice, too -- crisp and slightly chewy with a nice salt edge to it. The apple pie was a nice rendition -- good apples and not too sweet, with the crust perhaps not as flaky as my personal preference, but tasty nonetheless.
Cost for dinner for four: all of the above, plus a drink each and my to-go cupcakes came to $160, before tip. A pretty great deal, consider the sheer quantity of delicious food we ate and the provenance of the food (Vicky's Veggies, Cumbrae's meats) and the kitchen (Splendido).
I'm looking forward to going back and trying new items as the menu changes. But I really hope I get back there before the tomatoes are gone.
481 Church St, Toronto, ON M4Y, CA
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