Two years in, Oliver and Bonacini’s aggressively Canadian restaurant at The Bay is starting to show some wear. The menu falls short of some of the other patriotic cuisine available in the city, and the room’s efficiency runs on TTC time. Still, it's good enough for an after-work or pre-theatre meal. The pickerel tacos are a flavourful mash-up of sauces—punchy chili and sweet tamarind—and tender fish on a steamed bun. Attempts at Québécois richness fall flat. A poorly proportioned poutine (too light on the curds and too heavy on the rosemary-infused gravy) congeals into a mound of soggy fries the second the dish even arrives. Tourtière, kitschily served with ketchup packets, has excellent rich pastry, but the ground pork filling is grey and tasteless, with more than one chunk of gristle. Grilled octopus with chorizo and escarole reads well on the menu, but is a confused mess in execution: fishy to the point of rankness, drowning in Chef Boyardee-style tomato sauce, and topped nonsensically with a fried egg. All these failings are redeemed somewhat by an excellent side of succulent, salt-baked beets, served cold with a zingy horseradish sour cream. Things continue to improve with dessert. The fryer-fresh sour cream doughnut puts Timmie’s to shame, and the ample butter tart has rich, buttery pastry and brown sugar filling cooked to a just-runny consistency. Twenty BC and Ontario wines are affordably priced, as are the above-average cocktails.
Average flavours. Not good vegetarian options nor substitutes.
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