CUISINE: Casual Fine Dining ADDRESS: 325 Dundas Street DATE: April 19, 2013
I was saying to Ian the other day that they strange side-effect of starting this project is that I have begun to believe I have a personal relationship with all the restaurants in London.
All of a sudden, when I’m driving around London now, I’m running into friends: “Ohhhhh, Christina’s! There you are! I’m coming to see you in June….Crossings! I like your menu! So excited to hang out!”
It makes having a dentist across town much more enjoyable.
Anywho, yesterday I was exhausted from our field trip to Sheridan, and subsequent run-in with the instrument of torture otherwise known as Professional Development, so I was pretty “Meh” about heading to the Armouries Grille last night.
- meh /’mə
- less than
- neither here nor there about it
eating in a hotel lobby in Downtown London when there is a Real Estate seminar going on in the ballroom next door
Resident skeptic Rebekkah Wilkin had warned me about this restaurant:
Rebekkah: You’re going there? Ugh. I will not be joining you. Have you been there? It’s…(shudder)…in the lobby.
When we arrived, we were greeted by two giants signs: one that touted the real estate seminar, and one that said, “WE ARE ALL GUESTS OF THE ENVIRONMENT*”.
Becca, now a repeat visitor to the AZ Resto Tour after her fingers grazed mine on the platter at Addis Ababa, suggested that we head upstairs to the “Cantina” section of the lobby, so that it felt less “Hotel Lobbyish”. A great suggestion, as it was actually very pretty up there. No drafts, no weird signs, but lots of light and fake plants. Pretty, really.
Becca in the sky with fake plants.
The restaurant was completely dead on Friday at 6:30pm. Like, I think we were the only people eating from the menu. Their wine list was interesting, in that it had about 20 wines to choose from that were by the glass, 1/2 litre, or bottle, but they had a standard price for each. Every bottle of wine you could order was $34. Ian picked an Inniskillin Cabernet Merlot (Me: We’re really into Inniskillin lately. Ian: Well, we’re MEMBERS…) and we were on our way.
INCONGRUOUS DETAILS: Very expensive, thin and large red wine glasses. Pizza Hut menu on every table.
We debated getting an appetizer.
Me: I’d like either the Beef Satays, the Scallops, or the Flatbread.
Rebecca: Sorry, I wouldn’t eat Fois Gras.
We picked the not-fois-gras-in-any-way Flatbread, which had asparagus, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, roasted garlic and caramelized onions. With a balsamic reduction.
The service was speedy and our waiter checked on us often. Could it be because we were the ONLY PEOPLE there? Possibly, but I also think he liked our style.
The flatbread was flavourful and delicious, if a little soft on the bottom.
Bring me the balsamic vinaigrette hose…
Not that I’m getting demanding about this whole project…
(wait. “GETTING demanding?”, I’m sure Ian would say, eyebrow cocked)
…but I basically insisted that we all get different things. Rebecca ordered the interesting Mushroom Quinoa Risotto, Ian ordered the Butter Chicken, and I took the waiter’s recommendation and got the “Chicken Supreme”.
Becca: Chicken Supreme always means On the Bone.
This Supreme bad boy was so, for lack of a term that isn’t disgusting, MOIST and SUCCULENT (why are words that mean APPETIZING so gross??) The sauce was this amazing corn and chorizo cream, and it was served with baby asparagus, broccolini, and FRIED POLENTA.
Rebecca and Ian’s dishes were equally appealing. We weren’t sure if Quinoa risotto meant that the SUPERFOOD (buzzword alert!) would be in a rice dish, but instead, it was an artfully prepared quinoa dish in a risotto style (AKA, creamy and fully of dirty cheese).
COOKING TIP: Always shave Parmesan onto Things.
Ian had the Butter Chicken, and while he proclaimed it “pretty White Man Mild”, he thought it was pretty tasty.
Jasmine Rice makes it all better.
Because we are gluttons (both for punishment, and for literally gluttony), we ordered cheesecake and creme brûlée for dessert. Rebecca and Ian reported the cheesecake, dense, creamy and “the best in a long time” (a high compliment, considering that Ian is on an almost exclusive cheesecake diet), My creme brûlée was a little eggy. When I didn’t eat much of it (from fullness as much as the lack of sweetness), the waiter went ahead and took it off our bill! The customer service was really stellar.
Here’s the thing: I would NEVER have thought to go to a hotel in downtown London for dinner. But there have been MANY, MANY times where we have had trouble getting in somewhere downtown without a reservation (after shows, in between Fringe performances, impromptu meetings). Like, I love the Tasting Room, but good luck getting in there on a Friday if you didn’t book on a Tuesday.
The fact that this restaurant, with EXCELLENT food and service, and no chance of closing, was dead on a Friday night gives us an incredible option for last-minute fine dining.
Even if you have to eat in a…(shudder)…Lobby.