We were in Stratford over the weekend to see a couple of productions. With the closing of Rundles and also of Monforte on Wellington, we decided to try out Red Rabbit, having seen some previous positive mentions here and elsewhere. Since the menus are different, we went for both lunch and dinner.
Red Rabbit describes itself as worker-owned and focuses on local suppliers. The look and atmosphere is upscale pub and fairly casual. Staff are quite friendly and seem to know the menu well. They are also happy to chat about the Stratford season as they seem to have gone to many of the shows. Apps generally came fast, but there tended to be a wait for mains.
For lunch, Klafouti had the pineapple margarita (tequila, triple sec, lime juice, pineapple juice, pineapple anise bitters). Salty, tangy, and fairly strong. I opted for Fickle Mistress, a guava and grapefruit dry-hopped sour ale from Block Three in St Jacob's. We split the fried cauliflower tacos for an app. The cauliflower was topped with cilantro, kimchi, peanut sauce, and a little grated cheese. It was a great mix of flavours and worth having again. For mains, we had the fried chicken (great crunch, not greasy coating) and waffles (crispy, light) that came with a tangy, orange sauce that was flavourful and could have used a bit more kick. We also had the smoked meat sandwich with greens (instead of fries), with local yellow mustard, and fresh dill. The meat was very nicely done, peppery, though not super smoky or tasting of coriander like Schwartz's etc.
At dinner, Klafouti had an excellent pamplemousse Negroni (grapefuit infused gin, aperol, sweet vermouth, orange slice). I went with a Red Lion raspberry beer, which was pleasant and went well with the food. We also had a glass of Grayson Cellars chardonnay a bit later. Instead of bread, they brought wonderful fresh biscuits with butter. We started with fried green (actually yellow) tomatoes that came with marinated cherry tomatoes, whipped feta, sweet farm-fresh cucumbers, and mint. The frying was exceptional - crisp cornmeal coating with no greasiness. We also had the Paesar salad (Caesar dressing, raw sugar snap peas, house bacon, aged cheese, and buttermilk biscuit croutons. This was a nice idea, but needed more lemon in the dressing.
For mains, we had jerk turkey with black-eyed peas and greens (chard), Johnny cakes, and herb salad, mesquite powder. Jerk was perhaps a stretch as there was no discernible fire, but the turkey was moist and the black-eyed peas had great flavour. The ling cod came with tomato, preserved lemon, saffron, dried fruit and almond tagine, couscous, and harissa. The cod was a little overdone and the rest of the accompaniment was fine, but not redolent of Moroccan flavours. Our dinner companion had the pork shoulder with a spicy red cabbage and carrot slaw and hand cut udon noodles. This was actually the best main, with sweet pork, chewy noodles, and more kick than any other dish.
For desserts, we had the chocolate cake served with a glass of golden Guernsey milk (an actual little glass of 5% milk). The cake was drying a bit on the edges, but the inside was moist. Both the icing and the cake were very chocolatey and not too sweet. We also tried the Chicago style sundae: cheddar cheese ice cream, caramel corn, warm salted caramel. It was fun; the ice cream was tasty and tangy but not recognizable as cheddar. Klafouti went a little overboard and also had the Red Rabbit coffee: frangelico, galliano, kahlua, Revel (decaf) coffee, and whipped cream.
Cost for dinner for 2 $215 including tax and tip (forgot to write down cost for lunch, but it was well under half that).
Overall, some great dishes, some that needed a bit of work. Bijou is perhaps more consistent, but Red Rabbit tries to range farther in terms of flavours and styles.