Saturday, July 20, 2013

Weslodge Saloon


Weslodge
478 King Street West
Toronto, Ontario

Date Visited: July 17, 2013

You can’t miss the entranceway to Weslodge.  Just west of Spadina on King West, the saloon’s name is spelled out with bright lights atop glowing yellow doors.  A doorman greets you and provides you entrance into this swanky modern saloon.  Inside, the place is built with dark, wainscoted wood.  The bar takes up prime real estate and taxidermy decorates the walls.

We were a group of 12 and we were seated in a private room upstairs.  The room was underwhelming in terms of decor – at least in comparison to the main floor.  It was also located near the washrooms, a far from desirable dining experience in my mind.  The day we dined at Weslodge was one of the hottest days this summer thus far and you could feel it... INSIDE.  It was uncomfortable – the air conditioning was totally ineffective.  We knew we were in for a hot dining experience.

As a group, we got the $65 prix fixe menu.  Traditionally on this menu, everybody would share all the listed apps and dessert but select one choice of main entree.  Weslodge, however, gave us the option to split every single dish, including mains, between 2 people.  So each diner received half of the 4 apps, 3 mains, 2 sides, and dessert on the menu!
  
One of our apps was the salmon tartar in a crispy latke with cottage cheese and dill.  In my mind, there’s something magical about the pairing of salmon and creamy cheese.   We see it with lox (brined salmon) and cream cheese as well as raw salmon and cream cheese in certain Westernized sushi rolls (although some may find the latter appalling).  The raw salmon in this dish was fresh and not fishy.  It was a light, refreshing taste that complimented well with the cottage cheese.  The latke was the icing on the cake.  It gave each tasty bite a crispy crunch.  Accented with dill, I thought that it was a successful dish.  The only criticism I have for this dish is that the latke was a tad on the oily side.

The scotch (quail) egg with chorizo sausage, tomato jam andblack truffle was wonderfully presented.  It was an artistic feast for the eyes.  I was especially excited to taste this dish since I love any type of runny yolk.  I’ve also heard many diners rave about this one.  However, it didn’t really meet my expectations.  The quail egg was delicious, but the shell of chorizo surrounding the egg was too salty for my liking.  It ruined the dish and the jam couldn’t save it.  

The beef tender was one of the mains and it was true to its name.  It was deliciously tender – melt in your mouth and the sweet onion butter made it just that more decadent.  The beef also had great mushroom flavour infused into it.   This may have been the first time I’ve had fregola.  What I understand it is pasta from Sardinia, Italy.  It is basically rolled dough that has been toasted in the oven.  It was a hearty accompaniment to the beef.  It absorbed much of the flavour in the beef sauce but remained “al dente” and provided a nice textural difference from the rest of the dish.

The black cod dish had a lot of Asian influences – the buckwheat noodles dressed in citrus vinaigrette were refreshing.  The black cod itself was baked perfectly – it was succulent, tender and infused with delicious Asian flavours and tasted even better with the miso broccoli puree.  I love it when fish falls apart ever so gently when you tease at it with a fork.  I’m just going to say it – this black cod was prepared better than other Japanese outposts I’ve had in Toronto – namely Guu.  

There was also a fried chicken dish with biscuits.  You can’t really go wrong with fried chicken – the batter was delicious and more unique in flavour than most outposts.

Dessert was pretty standard fare – instant cake, chocolate mousse and olive oil pudding with raspberries.  

Just a note about the servers – they were friendly and attentive.  Some of them explained every dish when served while others did not – a bit of an inconsistency on Weslodge’s part.

Overall, this dining experience was a solid offering from Weslodge.  It’s got my stamp of approval and perhaps a return visit.
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