This review is something of a challenge. I made two discoveries this month: a new restaurant with good food and a problem I hadn’t anticipated.
The Midtown Restaurant on Eglinton Avenue West is only a few months old. Our waitress is welcoming and infects us with her enthusiasm. Over the years I’ve encountered all sorts of wait staff, and it’s such a joy to find one who approaches the job with energy and gusto.
We start with an appetizer of garlic shrimp ($9.95). Plump shrimp are swimming in a delicious stew of tomatoes and onion, flanked with buttery garlic panini triangles. The shrimp are cooked perfectly and the sauce is just garlicky enough to merit the name. The panini is needed to sop up every last drop, because we aren’t going to miss out on a morsel.
It’s an auspicious start. A dark ale beef stew ($13.95) is rich with onions, carrots and mushrooms, the flavour of the ale permeating the broth. It comes atop mashed potatoes and my guest gives this dish the thumbs up. It is certainly the perfect foil for a cold day.
I go the other way and order a filet mignon salad ($13.95), recommended by the waitress. She even asks how I like my steak.
It is almost the medium rare I requested, and garnished with large slices of grilled zucchini, carrots and red peppers. But the dressing is what makes this dish perfect.
Instead of the usual balsamic vinaigrette so beloved of chefs these days, these greens are dressed with a light sprinkling of lemon dressing, while the steak has been baptized with a dash of balsamic in the pan. It’s a clever switch and it makes the dish sing.
Postprandial coffee comes with generous jugs of cream and we decide on chocolate mousse cake for dessert — a rich, chocolate-topped confection, though I’m not sure where the mousse is.
It’s a rich cake and sinfully delicious. And, wonder of wonders, it’s apparently made in-house. Everything is, which is a point of honour for the chef, the waitress tells us.
And here, finally, we come to my dilemma.
I applaud the new trend in restaurants of serving their own bottled water, rather than purchasing wasteful, landfill-clogging bottles. However, I was a little surprised to find a cheerful green colony at the bottom of my bottle of water. I hasten to add that I had drunk two glasses and it did me no apparent harm, but it was somewhat disconcerting nonetheless.
It was handled particularly well by the staff. I noted that all the water bottles were removed from the refrigerator for thorough cleaning.
So, while I could not in good conscience keep this flaw from you, dear reader, I suspect it will not be a problem in the future. The embarrassment and shock were evident.
Thus, I nonetheless, offer my imprimatur. The food and service are excellent and the prices hard to beat in this stretch of Eglinton.
Midtown Restaurant, 514 Eglinton Ave. West. (416) 485-5151. Open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch on weekends. Website: www.midtownrestaurant.net
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