The premise of the column is simple; work with restaurants of all kinds to explore what they have to offer and what makes them unique. In a city like Toronto, the choices are sometimes daunting and the food reviews and critics can be snotty and too complicated for their own good. So why not keep this easy?
Drinks. Appetizer. Main Course. Dessert. All along with a bit of information about what makes them my choice for Daniel’s Dish and why you should try them right away!
Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen Street West (416) 531- 4635
The Toronto neighbourhood known as Queen West is one that is iconic and diverse. A neighbourhood once known only as the hang out for irritating hipsters (don’t even get me started on the culture that believes that they are anti-culture…) it is now a foodie hotspot and cultural hub in the city I love. With blossoming businesses, creative niches and newly founded hotspots, this is the place to truly explore the immensity that Toronto can offer. Located on the border of this area is the well known and well respected Gladstone Hotel.
An image of artistic expression, the building’s faςade is one that most Torontonians could identify almost immediately. It’s red brick and towering presence house one of the best places to experience art, diversity, creativity and culture. With events of all kinds, beautiful rooms and a wonderful restaurant to boot… how could I not tell you about this quintessentially Queen West hub?
Recently I was asked to join a menu tasting in the restaurant nestled within the walls of this establishment and had the opportunity to bring Catherine along for the ride. Albeit a buzz kill with the no drinking thing, she actually helped to show me how accommodating the restaurant could be to the needs and dietary restrictions of its guests. In a city where some restaurants are so chef driven and would flat out tell you to leave, this is a huge bonus for those of you with restrictions of your own. Not to mention the stunning decor, good music and fantastic atmosphere… let me tell you what my personal favourites were for my visit.
With the upcoming summer ahead of us, anything and everything berries has caught my attention. But what to choose in light of overly sweet options that will surely add to a bad hangover after too many cocktails full of syrups and processed ingredients around the city? The Blackberry G&T off the cocktail menu is my go to for a cocktail that is sure to satisfy your necessity for something fresh and fun. Beefeater 24 gin combined with muddled blackberries and mint is a surefire way to begin a gathering of friends before a tasty meal full of flavours from around the world. It is a must in every way and will have you smiling and loving your experience from the very first sip.
I’ll be honest and say that as much as I loved the food tasting, there was a certain safety that was presented in the options available on the menu. Mild flares were made to classic dishes, but nothing on the menu jumped out and screamed revolutionary to me. I guess you could say that Gladstone Hotel does what it does very well, so why fix it if it’s not broken? Of the appetizers I had the opportunity to try, my favourite would be The Saucy Rib ‘Nibblers. It’s all about sweet and refreshing dishes right now to play along with the (please hurry up) warm weather to come. Ontario lamb ribs with a sweet hoisin BBQ sauce served to you with a side of celeriac slaw. Sweet and salty, this dish is contrasted with the creaminess of a well executed coleslaw. It is to me, summer on a plate. For Catherine, it was a life changing dish because she has never been a fan of lamb and finished it all with a smile on her face. If it can make a lamb lover out of her, you know it is a must try dish on the menu next time you visit!
I’m going to recommend something out of left field for a main course. Traditionally I would pick a more stereotypically “dinner” style dish but I loved The Jerk so much that it is my recommendation to each and every one of you. Spicy pulled jerk chicken with homemade slaw are served in a coco bread pocket with a side of rice n’ pea fritters. This dish speaks to its Caribbean influences beautifully and though one might not assume a pita style dish to be satisfying, I dare you to not fall in love with this one in particular. The soft textures of the coco bread pocket wrap the spicy chicken and creamy slaw in hand held perfection. I imagine myself on a hot summer day enjoying this spicy dish and crisp fritters for something filling that won’t leave me feeling lethargic afterwards. And the fritters? Get out of town. Golden crisp on the outside and moist to bite into, their salty flavours are balanced beautifully with a mango chutney. It’s a trip to flavourtown without leaving the table and it’s one you have to go on to believe.
The Mexican Chocolate Fudge Brownie caught my eye immediately, but then again I am also a spice addict. The combination of guajillo chili, salted caramel sauce (which is Vegan friendly. But who cares. No one likes Vegans anyways) was a great combination of flavours to end a night of interesting food and great conversation. Although the brownie was slightly too dense for my liking, the best desserts aren’t always the ones that are overly sweet or what you expect. A great representation of a menu that has classic choices with flare, this dessert would be one I recommend you to try and draw your own conclusions.
Secret You Should Know:
Unfortunately due to a hectic schedule during my recent visit I was unable to find out a secret you should know about Gladstone Hotel. So, to make this a bit more interesting like I sometimes do, why not tweet @DoTheDaniel for YOUR fun fact or secret I should know about so that I can share it with you all on my social media accounts? Make sure to tag #DanielsDish and let me know something you think the DoTheDaniel.com audience might find interesting. I’m excited to hear all about it thanks to your experience and expertise!
Chill music, deep vibes and somewhat safe menu options with a bit of flare. The Gladstone Hotel lives up to its calibre with its inspiration, dedication and presentation from start to finish of your next visit.
Make sure to tweet @GladstoneHotel with your favourites from your visit and to tell them how much you enjoyed that delicious cocktail after work or main course for dinner. Queen West is meant to foster growth and a sense of community, so why not join in on the social media conversation with @DoTheDaniel & #DanielsDish?
For more behind the scenes of this and other Daniel’s Dish visits, follow my Instagram!