Come and Get It Opening Remarks:
-Come and Get It (CAGI) first made their appearance as a pop-up on Spadina in 2013, but after a hunt, opened up shop more permanently on Queen St just west of Bathurst.
-The restaurant is owned by Jon Polubiec (previously of Mistura, Windsor Arms and Prego) with Chef Adam Brown in control of the kitchen.
-The first time I tried Come and Get It was at CraveTO (the only one I actually ever went to because it was an honest nut house). But it was here that I tried their Chipotle Short Rib sandwich with sweet crispy shallots and I-was-totally-hooked. So when I heard whispers of a full time brick and mortar location, I jumped at an opportunity from Jon to check it out.
-Funny story- when I arrived I saw that an old friend from my arts high school in Peterborough, Pete, was the general manager and bartender at Come and Get it! Talk about a crazy small world.
Come and Get It Ambiance:
-Designed by local firm, Derooted, the 30-seat room features a retro graffiti wall, neon coloured lights, large speakers and school-yard style chain fencing. It’s ghetto-chic in a nostalgic “Fresh Prince of Bell Air” kind of way and actually took me back to my school days in the ‘90s (and that wasn’t even because I was reminiscing with my old school pal!)
-One of the more unique elements of the décor is that if you stand back from the bar it emulates the look of a “boom box” – you know, from those ancient cassette tape days of yore.
-Music was played at a surprisingly palatable level considering all the boom box paraphernalia on the wall. It’s probably not the place you want to take your grandma, but it wouldn’t kill her eardrums if you did.
-Seating is mainly shiny black high tops and a few regular banquette style deuces so you definitely get the casual bar snack vibe.
Come and Get It Service:
-Service was quick and obviously super friendly- this was after all an old friend. But you could tell I wasn’t just getting special treatment, Come and Get It is clearly a neighbourhood joint. It seemed like Pete knew the names of everyone that walked in the door – and if he didn’t, he sure made it sound like he did with his personable friendly charm.
-Considering the small size of the restaurant, it was just Pete on the bar and one other sweet server working the room, but everyone seemed well taken care of throughout the night.
-Drinks came up immediately (perks of sitting at the bar), our water carafe was always full, food was rolled out at a nice pace, and we were brought cutlery and side plates when appropriate (most bites are finger-approved).
-Come and Get It offers around 10 International and local wines by the glass ($6.20-11.50) or bottle ($31-61), as well as a handful of craft brews in 750 ml bottles ($16-25) and another four options on tap.
-But this is really a place to go for good cocktails- Pete has experience at Bar Chef and the Geraldine, so you know he’s got some serious skills behind the bar. Come and Get It offers around 7 house cocktails, 9 classics, and another 4 specials, most of which are priced under the $10 mark! The affordability factor alone could explain why Come and Get It is such a regular haunt. For a cocktail lover like me, they all intrigue with their sassy names and unique housemade ingredients like tobacco syrup, pernod bing cherry, teapot bitters, house-made almond milk and rosewater.
El Himador, Lemon, Peach Liquer, Thomas Lavers Ginger Beer, Collins
Refreshing and light with a nice balance of acidity, sweetness and zippy buzz from the local ginger beer. This could go down dangerously quick.
Scotch, Crème de Fig, Fernet Rinse, Basement Bitters
A heavy hitter yes, but pleasantly sweet and easy to drink with the addition of the jammy crème de fig.
Sailor Jerry Rum, Pineapple Juice, Egg White, Lime
If you are craving a flavour-escape from this brutally cold weather, then get this in your mouth. Filled with a punch of tropical flavours and fresh tangy lime, this is enough to lift anyone out of their winter blues.
Aperol, Lemon, St Germaine, Bergamote, Rhubarb Bitters, Soda
The bergamote in this drink has such a beautiful citrus flavour that was so nicely complimented by the bitter-orange Aperol and floral St. Germaine.
Paper Planes ($13)
Buffalo Trace, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, Lemon
Similar in it’s citrus flavour profile to the previous pick, but a little more boozy and less sweet as a result of the herbal Amaro and Aperol playing a more prominent role.
Gin, Amaro, Sapin, Wormwood Bitters
Probably the heaviest hitter of the bunch, but it would certainly make a fine digestif with its combination of herbaceous woodsy flavours.
Come and Get It Food:
-A fun and playful approach to dining, the dinner menu features a choose-your-own-adventure experience. There are 7 flavours to peruse which can then be mixed and matched for any of 4 formats – a Bite (cocktail canapé), Slider, Mini Poutine, or Flatbread. That means 28 different dinner/late night options to keep you occupied as you get your drink on.
-The “flavours” draw from a wide range of cultural inspiration from Caribbean jerk to Mexican pork, to Southern fried chicken – but overall, it’s all very comfort food centric. That is you come here to eat, drink and be merry, and definitely not diet- it just probably isn’t going to happen here.
-Lunch options are slightly different with the same flavours but with less of an emphasis on shareable snacks so you can choose from a Sandwich, Wrap, Salad, or Poutine.
-Finally, brunch is now also in full force, offering a more structured format with some of the same flavours appearing in all your favourite brunch eats. From a jerk chicken frittata, to fried chicken and waffles, to short rib hash, to a coconut shrimp scramble- there is surely something delicious for everyone in your party. Also, they have cheese-tots, and that should be reason enough to go.
Coconut Shrimp Bite ($3)
Po Boy Style Shrimp, Honey Citrus Dressing, Chunky Remoulade
A sweet coconut crust reveals tender meaty shellfish that are then topped with a refreshing citrus sauce and tomato salsa. Yum-o.
Mango Jerk Chicken Bite ($3)
Spicy Roasted Chicken with House Jerk Rub and Limed Mango, Plantain Popper
One of my favourites of the night, but a warning to the heat-adverse- this one’s got a kick! The bite featured two moist pieces of chicken coated in a fiery jerk rub, popped atop a crispy sweet fried plantain. Addictive doesn’t even begin to describe what was going on here.
Hawaiian Pork Belly Bite ($3)
Roasted 5-Spice Pork Belly w Grilled Pineapple and Hoisin
Definitely one of our favourites of the night. This bite featured meltingly unctuous pork belly paired with bright caramelized pineapple lathered up in a sweet and salty hoisin sauce. Simple done right.
Chipotle Short Rib Bite ($3)
Beef Shortrib on Polenta with Slaw
One of the more hearty bites of the bunch featured a blessedly tender short rib glazed in red wine. It was then nestled onto a few little sweet polenta slices with a touch of crunchy slaw to balance everything out.
Fried Chicken Caesar Bite ($3)
Crispy Cornmeal Chicken with Garlic Aioli and Fresh Granny Smith Apple, Parmigiano, Jalapeno Cornbread
An unusual and delicious take on the over-done chicken Caesar featuring some crazy crisp popcorn chicken on a spicy cornbread muffin. Dressed up with the usual suspects of garlic mayo dressing and parmesan cheese, this version was kicked up a few notches by the refreshing crunch of tart green apple.
Winter Vegetable Bite ($3)
Arancini with Taleggio and Squash
Watch out when you bite into these, they’re wicked hot inside and trust me it’s worth saving your tastebuds for this. This bite featured a crunchy golden fried exterior and a moist risotto filling made irresistible by the combination of salty cheese and sweet squash. I’m super curious to see how this gets pulled off Poutine style.
Ol’ El Paso Taco Bites ($3)
Pork and Beef Chorizo, Cilantro Crèma, Queso Fresco, Pico, House Tortilla Chips
The sweetest little tacos I’ve ever seen with an awesome combination of salty chorizo and queso, cooling milky crema, and refreshing tomato pico and cilantro. I could pop those babies back all night.
Coconut Shrimp Mini Poutine ($5.50)
Po Boy Style Shrimp, Honey Citrus Dressing, Chunky Remoulade, Cheese, Fries
Man, this place is the king of cuteness- just look at those adorable cast iron skillets? I had to hold myself back from pulling a grandma and storing a few in my purse. Like in the bite, the coconut shrimp held up surprisingly well sat atop a bed of crispy shoestring fries with salty curds. Really, guys, how could this be bad?
Chipotle Short Rib Poutine ($5.50)
Tender Pulled Beef Shortrib, Fries, Cheese, BBQ Sauce, Fried Shallots
It would be hard to pick but I preferred the short rib to the shrimp in poutine. Maybe it was the sweet BBQ sauce with the salty fries, or maybe it was that mountain of addictive fried shallots. Either way, I’ll be back for more.
Cinnamon Churros ($3)
Churros with Jalapeno Chocolate Sauce
Desserts are nicely portion controlled making them ideal for those who just want a taste. Though, I’ll admit after you put one of these churros in your mouth you may wish you had more. I’ve eaten a lot of churros in my day, but these are at the top of the churro game. Crunchy and crackly on the outside, soft and “melty” (to steal a term from Toronto chef Robbie Hojilla) within, and then drizzled with that bitter-sweet slightly spicy sauce.
Tropical Winter Panna Cotta ($5.50)
Mango Gelee, Cardamom Panna Cotta, Cashew Coconut Crumble, Pineapple, Mint
A lighter more refined finish, ideal for those who have already met their fried food quota on the poutine. Dig right to the bottom of this baby to get a little of the sweet mango jelly with the creamy spiced custard, the nutty crunchy crumble and the juicy pop of the pineapple on top. Delish.
Come and Get It Closing Remarks:
-In conclusion, I would totally love to return to Come and Get It to check out the brunch or enjoy some drinks and snacks with friends. This seems like a perfect venue to bring a medium sized group for a casual night out because the drinks are very reasonable and very, very good, the service is super friendly (sit at the bar with Pete if you’re a party of 1 or 2), the food is crazy fun and shareable, and I loved the nostalgic retro vibe.
-Now that I’ve had a chance to sample each of the current flavour profiles on the menu, I’m looking forward to trying some of them out in different ways. My top 3? It’s a tough call but probably the Pork Belly, Winter Veg, and Jerk Chicken so I’ll hopefully see them on a flatbread sometime soon.
Have you been to Come and Get It on Queen St W? What have been some of your favourite mix and match combinations?
Disclaimer: The preceding meal was complimentary, however, as always, all opinions are genuine.