Against the Grain Urban Tavern Toronto Restaurant Review
Open:Brunch, Lunch, Dinner
After a few weeks of being open, we decided to take our chances at the new Against the Grain Urban Tavern in the Corus entertainment building. Apparently this is part of the FAB Concepts group of restaurants, home to places like Mill St Brew Pub, Murphy's Law, Foggy Dew, Brazen Head and other mediocre Toronto pubs. So, I wasn't expecting much but I thought it would be worth a try because the menu looked interesting for a pub, and probably better than some of chains or sports bars in the area.
So, the first downside to this spot is the parking situation. We found a spot on the street where we could park for free, but we got the last one... and the parking lot was a flat rate of 10$ from 9-6 pm, and $ 10 from 6-12. But we got there at 5:45 so it was so awkward and would have cost us way too much for the quality of the meal. I can see this place being a great spot to bike to on a nice day, and stop for lunch and a pint... but once this place begins to get a bit more business, its unlikely we would find another free parking spot.
On the good side, the space is quite impressive. It is huge inside, with a nice looking bar (with large screen TVs.. even though they were playing infomercials..), and an even bigger outside patio that apparently have fire pits for night time, and lots of couches and lounge areas.
The service was also really great. This isn't fine dining at all, but our server was friendly and mature, which is apparently sometimes a lot to ask for in some Toronto pubs.
Okay, so the food, we tried:
Baja Spiced Chicken Nachos with salsa, guac and chili sour cream
Prime Rib Special with mashed potato, yorkshire pudding and veg
Apparently every Sunday, the have a different roast special, and today was prime rib for $20 with potatoes, yorkshire pud and veg. It was a very generous and surprisingly still tender piece of meat considering my mother insisted on it being well done. Potatoes were a bit bland but I am not a huge mashed fan.
Pulled Pork Tacos with molasses and tankhouse ale pork, gouda, avocado creme fraiche, and pickled watermelon and radish salsa
For pub food, I was pretty impressed. The pork was super juicy with a just hint of smoky sweetness, and I loved the watermelon salsa.
Daily Poutine with corn beef and a dijon gravy
I wasn't sure how sharp the gravy was going to be, so I asked them to put it on the side, which is why they probably thought they needed to pop the cheese under the broiler to get it to melt. But after I tried the gravy, I was happy and disappointed. Happy because I liked it, but disappointed because I couldn't taste the dijon at all. It just tasted like basic gravy.
Fish and Chips with pale ale battered Cape Capensis filet, served with fries, spicy beer ketchup and lemon tartar sauce
Their fries are pretty good here, and the spicy beer ketchup was an interesting accompaniment. Actually, it was surprisingly spicy, and had an obvious beer undertone. The fish batter was also pretty good, very crispy and not greasy at all.
So for 3 beers, 1 pop and the above, the total with tax and tip was about $120, not bad for a more interesting casual pub experience. There are quite a few other menu items that called my name (Duck Confit, Smoked Chicken Pot Pie, Short Rib Burger), so I'm sure I will be back on a nice night for the patio.