Friday: we split a bottle of wine of Rioja (the Olabarri Reserva 2008) with a friend at Cava, then went big: dinner at Jacobs & Co. It was Lindsay’s first time there, and I think it lived up to all my hype. Here’s what we ate:
the usual white cheddar popovers | Perrier Jouet Champagne
Jacobs Caesar salad | Verum Chardonnay, Domaine d’Albas Viognier/Vermentino
a 28oz USDA swinging ribeye from Kansas aged 35 days + a 4oz california cut striploin A5 Black Tajima Wagyu from Miyazaki Prefecture, Japan + sides (sauteed rapini, duck fat french fried potatoes, king oyster mushrooms) | Achaval Ferrer “Finca Mirador” Malbec 2011, from Mendoza Argentina
Sunday: we finished watching Dope (imdb | rotten tomatoes) after falling asleep partway through the night before. Excellent movie, by the way – killer soundtrack too. Then, after finishing the last of the leftover Jacobs steak and banging out some work (over a few bottles of craft beer) we got some killer tacos at La Carnita, explored the Aquarium for the very first time, and then made an amazing batch of pasta at home before completely crashing out, exhausted from the weekend. Phew!
It’s rare that I go this long without posting, but it’s rare that I’m this busy. I’m going point-form this time, just ’cause.
Ten days ago, the Wednesday before last, I caught up with my old friend M2 at Batch, which he’d not tried. The beer was fine. The food was good. The conversation was, as always, long overdue and excellent.
That Friday a busy, noshy weekend started with an outrageous dinner at Carisma. Bread, burrata, calamari, pasta, white wine, a 100% Sangiovese that almost made me cry, creme brulee, espresso…oy. Barely made it home without needing a nap.
Sunday: greasy Sunset Grill breakfast, an entire day grazing on the charcuterie picked up the day before at the market, and gnocchi + sausage + spicy sauce for dinner.
Monday: ham & cheese croissants from XO Bisous before I finally gave up and went to work.
Tuesday: I had to bail on drinks Monday, and (by choice) bailed on a work event Tuesday, because on Wednesday I was off to Ottawa for meetings.
Wednesday: I flew to Ottawa early in the morning, and arrived at my hotel early enough that I had time for a coffee at Morning Owl before my meetings started. I hit Morning Owl two more times that day (once for lunch, once for a meeting that afternoon), then had a fairly generic dinner at the Chateau Laurier.
Thursday: Morning Owl (again!) for coffee and breakfast. After my meetings and then a few errands I stopped at Bluebird Coffee in the Byward Market before meeting CB to get a ride with her to their place, wherein GB was preparing homemade fried chicken, which we ate with Dumangin 2004 Champagne. I caught an Uber X back to my hotel and had a glass of Norm Hardie cab franc at the bar.
Friday (Ottawa): black bean rolls and an Americano from Bread & Sons, back to Morning Owl for coffee to meet my friend Mark, and then lunch at Union 613 with my friend Dino. Union has an excellent beer lineup, and their fried chicken (yup, twice in two days) was outstanding, as was their corn bread. After lunch it was off to the train station and, from thence, Montreal.
Friday (Montreal): after a brief stop at Studio XX it was dinner surrounded by super-loud French bros at Bières et Compagnie, followed by a much better beer place: Pub Pit Caribou. I’ll be honest, I don’t even know what the main beer list looks like, because their menu said they were featuring guest bottles of Gueuze Tilquin. My holy fucking grail. Both kinds, the L’Ancienne and the Quetsche. Deeeeeeeelicious.
Saturday: so relaxing, Saturday. Enough pastries to kill a man, then hours of Black Mirror, then another killer dinner at Maison Publique. Seared mackerel, spiced lamb tartare on mint toast, roasted cabbage (better than it sounds, probably because it was smothered in butter), fried rabbit, and a pôt de crème, mostly paired with a Painted Rock Syrah.
Sunday: my flight home got cancelled, so I switched myself onto the latest flight possible so as to extend my enjoyment of Montreal. I hit two more spots on my list: Brasserie Boswell, which was really cool and had lots of great beer on tap, and Depanneur Peluso, the top-rated dep in Montreal for craft beer. I bought a few bottles, including a Beau’s One Ping Only, partly because it’s a tasty-looking Baltic Porter, and partly because of the Hunt For Red October reference.
Monday: now back in Toronto, I left work to meet up with my buddy Jeff at Little AAA, the second installation of old favourite AAA. A couple of bourbons, a pulled pork sandwich, and smoked chicken wings later, I find myself in dire need of salad and water.
On Tuesday we grabbed some dinner at Wine Bar and then went to see a talk by one of Nellie’s heroes, Jane Goodall. Such an impressive human being, and her final story of the night (shown below) pretty much says it all.
On Thursday I met my buddy Joe at the new Bar Hop (my first visit, believe it or not) where I had an excellent Burdock session saison and then availed myself of one of his Jays tickets, with which we watched the Jays beat the Yankees. Labatt’s acquisition of Mill Street at least meant I could have a 100th Meridian to go with this view:
Last night we went over to our friends A+A’s place and had a seemingly Dan-tailored evening: grilled meat and charcuterie, stellar beer (including a Gueuze Tilquin they brought back from Brussels, bless their little hearts), cool music that made me want to start collecting LPs again, and a cat named Owen who blithely tolerated my attention. We turned into pumpkins on their couch. It was, after all, a busy-ass week.
Back in 2006, before we even moved downtown to this neighbourhood, we tried out a new restaurant at Victoria and Lombard called The Strand. It had been born into the space left behind by Growler’s brewpub and the Denison’s brewpub. The Strand didn’t have their liquor license set up yet so it was a quirky (and empty) first visit. I’m not sure they ever recovered; they closed before we moved down here in 2007.
Since then the space had a decent run as Duggan’s (which we really liked) and Beer Academy (which was just okay, but made a weird use of the space). Beer Academy had been an offshoot of Creemore (itself owned by Molson), so when they announced they’d be shutting down and re-opening as a new Creemore brewpub named Batch, that kind of made sense. It opened last weekend, and we finally tried it last night.
Gotta say, I’m excited to have it there. The beer they brew on premise was solid, especially the Pale and the Porter. They have guest bottles as well. They also sell Creemore and Granville products on tap, and sell everything in bottles from their fridge. So that’s a good option on our way home.
The food was good too, maybe a little better. We split a dense, tasty pretzel to start. My fried chicken was delicious, if a little sticky/saucy. Nellie’s pierogies were just okay. Luckily there are about a dozen other things on the menu we want to try, and we’ll have plenty of opportunity.
Maybe most surprising was the wine list. 12 by the glass (or bottle) and all Canadian: 11 from Ontario, 1 from BC. Good wineries, too: Creekside, Pearl-Morissette, Tawse, Keint-He, Hinterland, 13th Street, and so on.
I’d say this place has a serious shot at becoming our new local. Welcome to the neighbourhood, Batch.