Last night was a bit of a dining misadventure. Not horrible, but not good either. Just…fine.
We started off intending to eat dinner at Reyna on King. I thought it looked nice from my seat on the streetcar whenever I rumbled by, with the plants hanging from the ceiling and whatnot. Very Montreal, I thought. Except — the plants are fake. Anyway. We didn’t fit the vibe from the second we walked in — pretty sure I was far and away the oldest person there. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but…I don’t know, the whole place had this undercurrent of wanting to seem authentically hipster and really just landing the hipster part.
We got some fried halloumi sticks to start, which were okay-not-great, and just slightly warmer than room temperature. The eggplant tostada had only a smattering of baba ghanouj that we could discern. The high-concept pogo stick (lamb merguez sausage, harissa mustard, date ketchup) was okay though.
We were hoping that at a cocktail bar the cocktails would impress, but Lindsay’s negronis were so-so, and my Manhattan tasted like rye + ice + nothing else. Even one of their house cocktails, the Bear Faced Truth, didn’t taste like much by the time you fought your way past all the ice.
We’d originally intended to stay for dinner, but bailed out after the snacks.
We walked to Gusto 501, wondering if it would be the place to salvage the evening. We could tell from looking in the front window that it was not. We jumped in an Uber and drove across the bridge to — naturally — Il Ponte. I figured, why not now? We’d lived down the street from it for three years but still hadn’t been. I’d heard enough about it to know it probably wouldn’t be spectacular, but I was hoping it’d be good.
And yeah, it was fine. Something unsettling about the atmosphere I couldn’t quite put my finger on — too brightly lit, maybe? — but they came through where it mattered: the food. Our caprese di buffala was perfect. My gnocchi All’Amatriciana was better than I expected given it was gluten-free. Lindsay’s paccheri cinghiale (paccheri with wild board sausage in a lite tomato white wine sauce with stracciatella cheese) also looked pretty good, even if she couldn’t finish it. And given that we were already a few drinks in I opted for a half-bottle; luckily they had the excellent Isole e Olena Chianti Classico by the half.
I don’t think we’ll rush back, but it’s a solid option if we’re just looking for a no-nonsense pasta dish. As for Reyna, I think the closest I’ll get is if I pick up dessert from Roselle next door.
Cover photo by Matt Botsford on Unsplash