I reluctantly returned to Tempo last night for a couple small plates off their new "izakaya menu".
I was having a bit of a hissy chowfit at about 9 pm last night.My friend is someone who thinks Springrolls is fantastic and will drive 40 km out of her way for their food. She wanted to go out for oysters on the halfshell, while sitting on a patio in Little Italy. I said I wouldn't expect any of the restaurants on College to serve good oysters. She then said she would be happy to have calamari. I had suggested Il Gatto Nero - they have decent fried and grilled calamari. But that was too far west- not scenester enough. She wanted to be in the thick of it, and thought we should head to Cafe Diplomatico for seafood. I refused. I also refused to go to the Capitol for any seafood. She then suggested Tempo,claiming they had terrific oysters. Since the food tasted ok the last time I went, I compromised.
I had been underwhelmed last summer, when I had taken a friend there for dinner, The portions had been very small. 4 or 5 small plates and 2 drinks close to $100. Afterwards, we were still hungry so we ended up heading to the Sicilian Sidewalk Cafe for a $6 gelato filled crepe, which wasn't spectacular but definitely filling...
It turns out Tempo did not have any raw oysters available last night,although they often serve them.
Expecting the same small portions, I ordered 2 small plates, even though I was just a little peckish. All the talk about oysters had put me in the mood for oysters, so I had the spicy tempura oyster and avocado maki, as well as the fried tofu with spicy chili sauce. My raw oyster and calamari craving friend ordered the lamb dumplings.
I was impressed that the portions have grown. The spicy tempura oyster and avocado maki consisted of 6 large slices (a little larger than a typical futomaki slice) It contained at least 5 fried oysters. The slices were way too big to fit in one bite, so I ended up deconstructing the maki- something I usually hate doing in a sushi bar. but since this isn't exactly a sushi bar, I didn't hesitate. This maki already suffered from sloppy workmanship, so I didn't feel guilty. The oysters were fine. Nothing too memorable. The tofu with the spicy sauce was a large portion, at least 5 playing card sized, 1 inch thick slices with a great spicy chili peanut sauce...funny that they didn't mention peanuts or satay on the menu. Good thing I don't have a peanut allergy. My friend's lamb dumpling (5) looked a little greasy- but I didn't try them. She said they tasted too lamby...but such is the risk one takes when they order lamb.
I still wouldn't go out of my way for this place. I have a long list of other places I'd rather try in the neighbourhood- but at least I didn't leave hungry this time.