The Toronto Star's Amy Pataki heaps praise on Brooklyn Tavern, but in doing so criticizes Bent, a Dundas West Susur Lee Joint, for using "ironic thrift store finds" as decoration. Pataki may just appreciate the newish Leslieville pub for its straight-shooting "mature" hospitality – for example, they don't always play music and the walls adorned with vintage photographs of the owner's football-playing father. The non-pretentious atmosphere is matched by chef Mike Dougall's (Opus, Harvest) "refreshingly simple" and "innovative" food flourishes that tips its hat to New Mexico, Asian, and French cuisine, with a comfort food menu that "harkens back to a golden age when food was as reassuring as the canned laugh track on a television comedy." As Pataki says: "The roast chicken is a marvel;" "the so-called 'somewhat crispy squid' lives up to its name;" and a "worthy…jalapeno-goosed Southwestern tortilla soup amounts to an east-end revelation that is "punching above its weight." Overseen by owners, husband and wife duo, Cindy Wilkes (ex-Peppinello, Sequoia Grove) and Dave Steadman (ex-The Wine Establishment), it sounds like Leslievillers have a great new restaurant to call their own. [Toronto Star]
The Grid line-dances with Boots 'N' Bourbon and finds small town countrified comfort food bringing the party in the cities' east end. Conceived by Rock Lobster Food Co.'s Matt Pettit and jointly owned by Nav Sangha (Wrongbar, The Great Hall), and Mike Homewood and Mike Strong (Muskoka's Kee to Bala concert hall), it's no wonder the high-octane hootenanny "feels closer to Texas than it does to Toronto, and it's packed to the rafters." It's hard to argue with a menu that features fried beer cheese, bacon bombs, and the shareable beer-can chicken; with entertainment that includes live music, the aforementioned line dancing, "cowboy karaoke, and Guitar Hero competitions." Once permit issues are resolved, Russell The Muscle, the bar's mechanical bull will return to give partiers one more reason to buck the night away. [BlogTO]
Heading west, The Grid highlights an "easy-to-miss Roncesvalles" sushi spot called Sushi Nomi that features home-aged soy sauce, daily nigiri fish specials that includes red sea bream and amberjack, made by a chef who employs Jiro Dreams Of Sushi-esque precision. Jun Kim honed his skills at Ki and Japango and though his new venture only has eight seats, it sounds like each one will be in heavy demand in no time.