1150 Queen Street West
In her opinion:
After having a fabulous Sunday brunch at Barque, we decided to do some shopping and basically hangout in Toronto before heading home to Cambridge. But the weather was gorgeous, the patios were calling and our stomachs were showing signs of gnawing. So we decided that we would stretch out our time in Toronto as much as possible.
We didn't know exactly what we wanted. We decided that Holy Chuck Burger might be a good choice. Unfortunately, it's closed on Sundays. Next, the idea of Porchetta & Co. was discussed, but again they too are not opened on Sundays or Mondays for that matter. This left me a little upset and undecided. We didn't necessarily want a fancy dinner or something to just get us by like shawarma from Kenningston Market. We wanted a place that we could grab a small bite since we weren't too famished and be cool enough to blog about!
I decided that we should just drive down Queen Street from east to west. Then it hit me...either Grand Electric or the Drake Hotel...whichever one was first and available to accommodate us. We got to the Drake Hotel first, got parking pretty quickly, asked whether there was room in the street side patio and told no but the the Drake Sky Yard was completely opened, "so go right on up"!
He wasn't kidding either. There was no one in the Sky Yard except for 3 waiters who were sort of caught off guard when we walked in. We were told to sit anywhere. We choose the covered patio area with the banquette with big cushions. The Sky Yard is cool. It's a great place to hang out with friends and drink or grab a bite to eat. We were offered three glasses of water and the Drake's "Early and Late" menu.
Our waiter was sort of indifferent. He didn't smile, didn't talk much and did a little grunting or what I thought was grunting! Not the best service I've ever received. But oh well...sometimes people have bad days and they take that attitude to work. It's a shame that they don't realize that tips are also at the customer's discretion!
We started by ordering two Mill Street Organic Lagers. As well, we ordered a few items to share. Our choices were the "Steak Tartare", the "Alsatian Tarte Flambee" and the "Drake 'N' Bake".
The "Steak Tartare" was excellent. Yes, this is raw beef! It's described on the menu as "sour pickles, capers, fine herbes, aioli and grilled sourdough". This was very nicely done. I enjoyed this dish very much and the flavour was a perfect savoury balance of flavours.
The "Alsatian Tarte Flambee" had been a sort of after thought. I'm very glad that I picked it. This was so so good. It is described as "Fromage blanc, caramelized onions, lardons and gruyere". This pizza like tarte is served with arugala on top. The flavours work very well together. This is a dish that I don't think I would ever get tired of.
Our last choice, the "Drake 'N' Bake" had been ordered with our son in mind. Since he is a lover of all things bread however, this bread basket was not up to his finicky standards, even after we ordered regular butter on the side! It is described on the menu as "homemade breads with dips and things". We got two triangles of delicious focaccia bread, two cheese and chive scones and three dense Gougere type of puffs. It came with a yellow beet spread and the most delicious truffle/parmesan spread. Even though our little man was not impressed, we were. The breads were absolutely delicious and the addition of that truffle/parmesan spread heightened it to a whole new level. Very good.
I would say that this early dinner before heading home was very good aside from the waiter with no personality. I think I would like to return to the Drake Hotel for their brunch in the future.
|Alsatian Tarte Flambee|
|Drake 'N' Bake|
In his opinion:
At the rooftop Patio "Sky Yard Bar" at the Drake Hotel on a Sunday afternoon for drinks and some cool treats I look over and say to Julie, "Hey, I think that's Dean Blundell with his new squeeze beside us"...but who cares about that!
The Drake is one of Toronto's cool hangouts and well known for it's cocktail bar. Its retro chic décor is a big hit with the Queen Street crowd and there are many sections to the restaurant, almost one for every taste. The Sky Bar rooftop patio was still kind of deserted as we sat in the covered end of the patio that sports a chic Caribbean look with teak chairs and large pillows in the benches.
There are many menus for different days and different times of the day. Breakfast-lunch, lunch, dinner, early+late, dessert, booze and 86'D. Also the recently released "Aprés Work" is not only a huge hit with the critics but also with the after work crowd of course.
We only had the early + late menu to choose from but there are many items on it to keep it interesting. We grabbed some Mill St Organic beer to keep us cool in this warm March afternoon as we browsed the menu for some good grub.
The steak tartar was to die for. It was perfectly finely chopped in cubes and served with sour pickles, fine herbs, aioli, capers and grilled sour-dough. I'm a huge fan of beef tartar and this one didn't disappoint at all. The sour pickle and aioli complemented it extremely well. The toasted sour-dough bread was a good contrast to the sweetness of the beef and was reminiscent of the Danish version of tartar "smorrebrod" that uses rye toasted bread instead.
Next was the Alsatian Tarte Flambe. This is France's northern Alsace region version of the southern Italian pizza and it was delicious. It's composed of thin bread dough with white melted cheese, covered in lardons and sprinkled with arugala on top. Delicious and filling, it was toasty, crunchy on the outer edges but very soft and flavourful as one would expect in a traditional type pizza.
Lastly we had the "Drake 'n' Bake". The menu explains it as home made breads with dips and things. I'm still trying to figure out what the things were but the 2 dips were very good. The breads were focaccia, two cheese and chive and gougere puffs. The beet dip/spread was interesting and was a good match to some of the breads but a miss with others. The parmesan truffle in the other hand was beyond good. It went well with everything and I probably would spread or dip anything on it without any reservation. I so could have that spread everyday and never get sick of it.
The Good: The rooftop patio is cool, perfect for a warm day and a different feel from the eating inside at the lounge or dining or even the patio.
The Bad: Our waiter stopped short of obnoxious but came close. Zero personality and behaved like his partner had dumped him the night before. We didn't luck out since all the other waiters/waitresses were vibrant and engaging to their clients.
The Verdict: Cool hangout, good food, great drinks and fantastic atmosphere make this hotspot a hit. The retro look is refreshing to see in an establishment that exudes a modern feel and caters to a younger, professional and party type crowd.
I give it a 3 olives out of 5 as rating