Out and about once again, I set out to go to the Drake Hotel 86′d Mondays yesterday to watch the première of Top Chef Canada. This time around I was with company of my food stylist, Abe and Tita Flips a.k.a Diona Joyce. We initially agreed to meet at 6:30pm and I belatedly realized that we are too early for the Top Chef Canada Premiere Party at the Drake Hotel. Seeing that, we set out for an early dinner at one restaurant that has caught my eye at Urbanspoon for the longest time. That night we headed out to try The County General. What really caught my eye is not the menu list. The County General offered Canadian comfort food (Burgers, Reuben sandwiches, Steak Frites, etc). What compelled me to come and check it out were the images of the restaurant interiors. The restaurant could very well be my place. The design of the interiors beckoned me as it was all centered to showcase wood, giving the interiors a rich and cozy feel. Butcher block tables, butcher block on the bar, wood panel as a back-splash, an interesting mosaic of 2×2 for a wall feature and wooden planks hanging on the ceiling. It’s my kind of place. I always have been drawn to any space that shows the natural beauty of wood.
We walked in and I was already pretty much decided on what I wanted. From some other reviews I have seen, I have read the Fried Chicken Thigh Sandwich was one of the restaurant’s best seller. As we waited for what we ordered, I spent my time snapping pictures all around me, wishing I could revamp my place using this restaurant interiors as inspiration. In no time, my food arrived. My fried chicken sandwich came presented on an olive chopping block, with an aluminum cup holding my side of fries. Visually, the sandwich captured me as a food photographer. I oohed and ahhhed as I snapped away. Biting into it, I wondered how I could have not thought of the sensibility of using an avocado as a condiment before this sandwich. The avocado chutney gave the fried chicken a smooth and silky contrast in texture, just like what an ordinary ketchup, mayonnaise and mustard condiment combo I usually take. Ah I have to really expand my knowledge of sandwiches from my usual fare. I think I am going to steal this idea for my own personal creations. My friend Diona graciously shared with me her pork taco. Also served on a olive chopping board block, it came with a squeeze bottle of The County General’s hot sauce. The server told us that the hot sauce was made of Scotch Bonnet chili. Not heeding Abe’s and Diona’s advise, I drizzled quite more than what I can handle on the taco. Did that ever burn. So if you end up with the same dish, do put on the brakes when adding that hot sauce to the taco.
Aptly full, we moved to the Drake Hotel’s dining room where a small group of foodies have already arrived. Ivy Knight’s 86′d Monday feature was on watching the last episode of Top Chef Season 9 and the première of Top Chef Canada Season 2. In attendance was season 1′s Newfoundland’s own Chef Todd Perrin and season 2′s Chef Elizabeth Rivasplata. The crowd clearly rooted for Toronto’s own on the season 2 roster, periodically erupting as Toronto chefs appeared on the show. I must admit I get some inner satisfaction that my guilty pleasure of spending time, tracking what’s happening on Top Chef, was shared by all foodies in the same room as I am. Makes me feel right at home that they watch the same show I do. Armed with a beer, free popcorn and a good conversation, it was a good way to spend my Monday night. Life is good. I cannot complain. :)