Once again, on a weekend where we were just too busy and tired to do much shopping, let alone cooking, we’ve eaten very well these past few days.
Saturday morning we hit Eastbound for what’s becoming our go-to brunch option. I had the pancake + fried chicken + omelet dealie, and Lindsay had the fried cod sandwich. We each had a Left Field “Squeeze Play” sour and one of their house beers.
Saturday evening, because we liked it so much the first time but found ourselves in a bit of a hurry, we returned to Gare de l’Est. We took our time, and after a wobbly start with our server, the meal really found a groove. We had half a dozen oysters and glasses of Tarlant. I started with the salade de betteraves (beets, cashews, watercress, Grey Owl cheese) while Lindsay had the soupe à l’oignon gratinée (beef broth, soft onions, Gruyère & Emmental, crouton). I had the canard (pan-roasted duck breast, port jus, white bean fricassee, charred treviso, bacon lardons) for my main; Lindsay the saumon a l’oseile (Pacific King Salmon, Tokoyo Turnip, fresh sorrel, beurre blanc). We paired that with a bottle of 2009 Savigny-Les-Beaunes. For dessert they brought us out a bit of cheese while we finished our wine. Superb meal all around.
Today for brunch we made breakfast at home (!) with buttery eggs, spicy chorizo sausages, and sourdough bread, all from Butchers of Distinction. We ate this simple feast while watching Bob’s Burgers and drinking a 2010 Benjamin Bridge Brut sparkling.
Tonight, though, we ruined the streak when we finally tried the Cider House, the newest addition to our neighbourhood. We had high hopes given the menu, but man…what a letdown. The pork belly ribs were good, but two of the four ribs that came out had virtually no meat on them…just bone! Lindsay’s burger & fries were meh. My pork chop was okay but a little overdone. The apple + chorizo mash that came with it was pretty good though. Our ciders — the popular mint + basil, and the dry hopped — were better than I expected, but I’m still not that much of a cider fiend, so I opted for a Mill Street (that’s all they carry) vanilla porter for my second.
More than the food, the real let-down was the service. Our server was trying, but he seemed over-matched. We were missing side plates, then cutlery, then I didn’t had a knife suitable for my chop. And my second drink order was forgotten. In fairness, he took that drink off the bill — good thing, too, since one app + two mains + three ciders came to $97 before tip. Not insane for this city, but it was hard to discern value for money.
On top of that, the place just had a weird vibe. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but we both left thinking this place was no threat to Eastbound. Eastbound’s beer may be just north of okay and their prices are high, but their food is excellent, the service is always on, and it just feels more relaxed.