Sunday, 26 February 2012

Ruby WatchCo.

730 Queen Street East

Toronto, ON


Menu for Saturday, February 25, 2012


Spinach, Caramelized Goat Cheese, Spiced Walnuts, Roasted Grapes, Pickled Carrots,
Honey-Jalapeno Dressing, Maple-Root Vegetable Hummus

Fennel Sauerkraut
Black Kale, Potatoes and Sausage
Chickpea, Tomato and Onion Stew

Roasted Eggplant with Crispy Olives

Cinnamon Cream

In her opinion:
To say I was excited about this dinner is an understatement!  I was as giddy as a virgin bride on her wedding day!  I had to wait a month for this reservation and the events leading up to this dinner made it even sweeter.  Having finished Winterlicious at the beginning of February this dinner at Ruby WatchCo was an oasis after a desert of take out meals.  I love good food. Obviously, I never shut up about it. And the idea of having one of my favourite Food Network chefs cook it for me only made me more in love.  

For those who don't know, Chef Lynn Crawford of Pitchin' In and Restaurant Makeover fame is whom I'm referring to.  This is her place. Well hers, along with Cherie Stinson and Joey Skeir's place. Ruby Watch Co is not your typical restaurant.  It doesn't have a menu in which you pick what you want to offers a daily 4 course set menu for $49 per person.  At the beginning of each week, on Tuesday to be exact, the restaurant publishes the  week's menus on their website. Basically, everyone in the restaurant is having the same meal served family style. I've read that it's similar to going to your favourite aunt's house for dinner and I would agree. Think of it as having dinner at Aunt Lynn's house.

I should mention that Aunt Lynn usually gets a little help from Chef Lora Kirk in the kitchen but not on this night.  Which is the perfect segue to the meal.

We started with a "Candy Cane Beet Salad". I can honestly say that this was the most delicious salad I have ever eaten in my entire life. So delectable. Everything worked well together and complimented each other perfectly from the roasted grapes to the the beets to the goat cheese.  Just perfection.

The main course was unbelievable, "Ontario Veal Chop in Pepperonta Jus".  The veal chops were cooked to a perfect medium. The pepperonta jus was unbelievably flavourful.  The sides were great accompaniments to the veal.  The black kale, fingerling potatoes and veal sausage was a perfect balance of flavour.  The fennel sauerkraut was nice with the licorice flavour shining through.  But the piece de resistance was the chickpea, tomato and onion stew topped with herb creme.  This was homey and comforting with just the right amount of Indian spice. Absolutely unforgettable!

The cheese course was outstanding, St. Maure from Fromagerie Chaput".  The St. Maure unpasteurized goat cheese was orgasmic when combined with the roasted eggplant topped with honey and crispy olives with country grilled bread.  I normally don't do cheese courses but I'm glad that Ruby Watch Co. has a cheese course because it made the meal for me!

Finally, dessert was "Apple Walnut Cake". This delicious, moist cake was served with a cinnamon cream and a caramel sauce.  The perfect ending to a perfect meal. The cake was not over sweet but absolutely well balanced.

The staff are a friendly, welcoming bunch. We had the fabulous Leslie serve us along with the help of Joey Skier and a few of the gentleman on staff. They made the night even better. We also had the chance to meet Chef Lynn.  She was very nice and took the time to have a little chat with us.  I also purchased her new cookbook, "Pitchin' In" and she was gracious enough to sign it.

I will definitely be going back to Ruby WatchCo. for dinner. The food, service and overall experience was out of this world. Thanks Aunt Lynn!

In his opinion:
I've been fortunate enough to have some great food experiences in my life. Sometimes the meal is amazing (Peller Estates, Niagara), sometimes the service is amazing (Le Grand Vefour in Paris, France), sometimes the setting/atmosphere is amazing (The Cliff, Barbados) and sometimes, only sometimes they all come together to create a more than memorable experience Canoe (TO), Blue by Eric Ripert (Grand Cayman), Auberge Du Pommiers (TO), Garde Manger (Montreal), Langdon Hall (Cambridge) and Les Ombres (Paris, France) to name a few.

I can honestly say that now I can add Ruby WatchCo to that distinct list. I had high expectations when I made my reservation a full month and a half in advance and, to top it off I had no idea what I was going to eat (menu changes weekly). Surely for a foodie that's not actually a problem, as we usually love everything but the loss of control in ordering what I like was still alien to me.

Sure, I have been a huge fan of Chef Lynn Crawford through her TV shows (Restaurant Makeover, Pitchin' in and Iron Chef) but had never actually tasted her food (thanks to a Four Seasons "Truffles" reservation  fiasco, I won't even go there). So the day had came for me to change that.

We arrived at Ruby WatchCo and were taken to our seats, placed right under the big Ruby WatchCo sign along the wall to the kitchen. The d├ęcor is dark but welcoming with a lot of dark wood and dim lighting mixture, making for an inviting room. There is a massive bar in the left side of the room when you walk in and the elbow room is limited but adequate for downtown Toronto, in this case Leslieville.

The wait staff were friendly and knowledgeable right off the top of the night.

Our main waitress Leslie was well informed, friendly and attentive. Even when someone else was bringing us the dishes, she made sure to stop and asks us if everything was good or if we needed something else. My first impression of the place is exactly what I expected and had read about. I look around and feel like "I'm eating at my cousin Lynn's house with my 50 closest relatives".

Ok on with the food now...I know... I know...I ramble sometimes :)

The menu was a four course menu, original for only this day but we had a chance to preview it online when it was revealed on Tuesday. We are served  chive studded buttermilk biscuits to start......warm and toasty on the outside...yum.

We started off with some Sparkling Water (well priced at $3 /person, and all you could drink), and 2010 Niagara Meritage, extremely strong on the aroma, medium bodied and with very little finish, $12/glass.

For the First Course: First course served was a salad, but not just any salad..."THE" salad....called Candy Cane Beet Salad. It tasted like someone had just combined the 3 best salads of my entire life and somehow found a dressing to perfectly tie them all together. I describe it as an explosion of flavours and textures that you don't want to end. The portion was huge as well, enough to feed 4 people easily and I reluctantly will say that it may have been the best salad I have ever had. 

For the Entree: Our second course was "Ontario Veal Chop in Pepperonta Jus". Brought to our table by none other than Co-Owner Joey Skeir that explained every part of the dish in detail. Working on a Saturday night and enhancing everyone's meal with his fun wit and charm, I felt honoured by his attention to our table.
I know some of you are gasping and even outraged by the thought of eating veal but I dont discriminate. Good meat is good meat and veal chops are very good meat :)

It was cooked medium to perfection and the Pepperonta Jus complemented it very well. It was also served with black kale, fingerling potatoes and sausage which were great side dishes. Then there was the chickpea tomato and onion stew with a serving of herb cream...this side dish would convert anyone that is not a big fan of these ingredients standalone or together, simply unforgettable.

For the Cheese Course: The unpasteurized goat cheese was soft in the centre and getting firmer to the outer rings. It was great to have alone or spread onto the toasted country bread, and reminded me of my childhood when my mother would warm the slice of house bread in the pan before serving it to us. Again that family house dinner feeling. If the great cheese wasn't already a good topping, there is also the eggplant, olive mix topped with honey for spreading as well. I was trying hard not to make it look like I was finishing every single crumb off the plate but I think the perfectly clean plate, as if there was never any food on it gave me away.

For Dessert: we were served "Apple Walnut Cake'. Very moist, light, topped with cinnamon cream and caramel sauce. Perfectly balanced finisher for the meal.

I opted for an espresso as well and that was the usual disappointment. Has the art of making a good espresso die down with the Kruger's and Tassimo's of this world? I surely hope not, but I'm having my doubts.

The Good: All of it really. Without being one of the top restaurants I have ever dined in, it stands as one of the best dining experiences I have had.
Chef Lynn taking the time to chat with us, and sign her cookbook for us were the cake toppers to this memorable dining experience.
The Bad: Not much! Bad espresso, and too small tables for the portions and cute "Le Creuset" pots I guess.
The Verdict: The differences you find when dining at Ruby WatchCo (family style self serving, same menu for everyone and no choices) is a refreshing take on the same old dining scene. It's as refreshing as Le Bremner (Montreal) only having 2 seatings per night or Next restaurant (Chicago) ticket buying reservation method. It changes the Status Quo and gives you something new that is refreshing in a sometimes bland restaurant/food scene. Not everyone will agree (mainly the same certain famous food critic that I sometimes disagree with) but I think that overall diners gain more than lose when the standard is changed or defied. 
How hard it is to get a reservation in this resto and the constant raves by critics and bloggers alike, I think serve to support my theory, and favourable review!

I give Ruby WatchCo 4 out of 5 olives as rating.

Ruby Watchco Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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