My birthday was yesterday and my best friend and I made reservations at Ruby Watchco for dinner. Ruby Watchco is owned by renowned Canadian chef, Lynn Crawford, who I got to meet two months ago. It specializes in what they call market inspired comfort food. I love the concept of this place. Rather than choose options from a menu, they prepare a set four course prix-fixe meal that changes daily. You can check out their web-site to see what courses they offer on what day so you can sample whatever catches your interest. That must be a dream job for any chef. Working in a busy kitchen is very tough work. You're constantly turning out several different dishes that other people want which sometimes never change. Here the chefs have full creative control and get to make something new and exciting every day (and believe me, they do it well).
Here was the menu at Ruby Watchco last night:
Sleger’s Living Greens Watercress, Celery Root, 10 Year Old Cheddar,
Garden Radishes, Cucumbers, Charred Almonds, Honey Dressing
Butternut Squash Risotto with Fried Sage & Parmesan,
Foraged Mushrooms with Red Wine Braised Onions,
Caramelized Fennel with Pear Mustard Relish
POTATO & PARSNIP CROQUETTE WITH SPICY SHRIMP SAUCE*
Warm Olives, Pickles & Rosemary Honey
Salt Roasted Peanuts, Chocolate Meringue Kisses
* The croquettes were an additional course that was optional for an added $16.00. My friend and I have both been very fitness oriented lately and felt that we had plenty of food already, so we passed on it. I'm sure it was fantastic just as everything else we ate.
They started us out with the salad. It was colourful, beautiful and was a delightful symphony of fresh, sweet, tart, bitter, crunchy, soft and peppery. An excellent first course. Alongside the salad, though not pictured, were jalepeño-cheddar biscuits and fresh on-site churned butter.
Then we had the second, largest course. The star of which were the grilled veal chops with sweetbread and caper jus. The veal was cooked to perfection: smoky, charred grill marks with a blushingly pink center. The jus was speckled with briny capers to balance the richness and chopped sweetbreads that I assume were simmered in the sauce. I was a little nervous about the sweetbreads because I'd never tried them before and I've never found myself to be particularly fond of offal. That's right, offal. We're not talking sweet bread here. These are sweetbreads or ris de veau; the thymus gland (located in the throat) of a calf. Sweetbreads can also be the pancreas and come from lamb, pig or cow. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed these. They had a similar consistency of creamy mushrooms and their flavour was mild and, well, kinda chickeny but unique in its own right. The sweetbreads were scattered over the chops.
Among the sides were a creamy, butternut squash risotto with crispy sage leaves and caramelized fennel with a tangy pear and mustard relish.
We also had foraged mushrooms with wine braised onions which were woody and fantastic.
After we had eaten all that we were served the cheese dish. Chevre noir cheese with warm olives, pickled cauliflower, rosemary honey and microgreens. Another great composition of flavours and textures.
For dessert we had chef Lora Kirk's butterscotch pudding with salty, roasted peanuts and chocolate-laced, light and crispy meringues. The caramel and roasted peanut combination reminded me of Cracker Jacks (an American junk food of molasses-syrup coated popcorn and peanuts that have been popular for over a century). Oh man, it was good! They gave me a little birthday candle too.
As you probably guessed, I took all these photos with my cell phone so the quality is nothing to write home about. They really don't do the dishes justice. Everything was just superb. I love family style dining where courses are placed in the middle of a table and everyone shares. This is simply a fantastic place to eat and I highly recommend it. It's literally market food with local, seasonal ingredients executed with finesse.
I encourage you to check out their web-site to learn more about the restaurant. They are located at 730 Queen Street East (Queen & Broadview) in Toronto's hip Riverside neighbourhood. Their phone number is 416-465-0100.
Thanks for checking out the blog again everybody! My birthday was on a Wednesday this year and it's my busy season at work so dinner was quiet. This Saturday several friends of mine and I are going to The Real Jerk, which is one of my favourite restaurants in the city. They've been very good to me over the years and serve up some of the best Jamaican food you can find in Toronto. I will be sure to share some mouthwatering photos from that, so stay tuned.