I was looking for a great resto at Queen & Bathurst to celebrate my birthday before a CMW showcase that night, so naturally, I turned to Chowhound to get recommendations. Several people agreed that the Paddock was a good choice, and you don't get much closer to Queen & Bathurst than that, so that's what I went with.
The Paddock is really a bar more than it's a restaurant. It looks and feels like a bar, and lots of people were gathered there for after work drinks when we got there. By the time we left, many hours later, many people were gathered there for after dinner drinks.
It's a small room, and I was annoyed at being constantly bashed into by people trying to get between tables. That was probably the main problem with an otherwise enjoyable evening. The decor is manly. Like an old study or gentleman's smoking room, with lots of dark wood and panelling. It's really quite nice.
I started with the Sour Cherry, one of the current special drinks. I didn't like it - found the bitter aftertaste too bitter - but I don't think it was a problem with the drink, I think it just wasn't too my taste. I switched to Cosmos after that, and they were excellently tasty with lovely little shards of ice keeping them cold but not watery. I admit to a little sticker shock on the price of the drinks ($12.50 for the Sour Cherry, $10 for a Cosmo), but I gather that's not atypical for drinks in nice bars. I'm just so accustomed to driving everywhere I go that I don't pay attention to drink prices.
Service was informal and a little on the slow side, but it matched the 'hang out and have a few drinks' atmosphere of the bar, so it didn't seem problematic. The napkins, for those keeping track from my original request, were not real.
On to the food. The menu is short and as manly as the decor. Dishes are oriented towards carnivores, with touches of game meat adding interest.
Bread was good but not interesting - soft, white, the flavour provided by olive oil and balsamic vinegar served with it. I started with Squid Piri Piri, served with a side of greens and presented with a shaped papadum holding things together. It was a really generous portion, it could easily be a meal choice for a light eater, especially with the bread to sop up the spicy sauce.
For mains, we chose the smoked sirloin, which came with so-so mashed potatoes and woody grilled asparagus, and the roasted venison, which came with honeyed parsnips and kale. The venison was cooked about medium rare and served in several slices, which left it quite cold by the time I'd eaten the first one or two pieces. It was good, but it would have been better if it was actually warm. The honeyed parsnips on the other hand, were delicious. Just a hint of sweetness, and a rich, almost creamy texture to the pieces. They were delightful.
Dessert offers only three choices - creme brulee, chocolate tort and a cheese plate. We opted for the first two. The creme brulee I didn't try, but it looked lovely, and was served still bubbling hot. The topping jumped instantly to hard crack when it was spooned up - perfect. The chocolate tort was rich, rich, rich. Like a giant truffle, really. I liked it, but I've sort of gotten away from heavy chocolate desserts of late, and would probably have preferred the creme brulee.
1 appetizer, 2 mains, 2 desserts and a couple few drinks (3? 4? I dunno, I was drinking them, not counting them) came to $150 after tax and tip. A delightful birthday meal.
Now if only they had real napkins...
178 Bathurst St
Toronto, ON, M5V 2R4
416 504 9997
Crosstreets: Queen & Bathurst