The premise of the column is simple; work with restaurants of all kinds in this amazing city 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 our choice for Daniel’s Dish and why you should try them right away!
WVRST, 609 King Street West. (416) 703-7775
Julio and I had the chance to visit WVRST on King West for our latest Daniel’s Dish and I have to be honest, I couldn’t be more impressed with this concept. Niche restaurants at times get old, quick, but I don’t see that happening for this hot spot in the city core. WVRST brings you that King West feeling of fresh & lively without the, let’s be honest, douchiness and arrogance that can ruin a great experience.
The concept is simple; think Bavarian Beer House meets modern flare. They keep the menu simple and focus on what they do best which is beer, sausages and fries. The space is quite ample for a downtown restaurant and the immediate vibe when you turn the corner is warm and inviting. Communal tables and a cafeteria style service encourage you to try new things and meet some new friends while you’re at it.
A little secret for you when you join, sit at the bar and let their incredible staff guide your experience. That way you can skip the lines to get some of their more popular dishes (Duck fat fries) and have them brought right to you!
I’m not necessarily known as the biggest beer fan, and the challenge was to find something for me that I would enjoy and compliment the menu. With over 20 beers on tap and countless more by the bottle, I dare you to not find at least one beer that you won’t enjoy during your dining experience.
I was sold, (thanks to our great bartender Graham), on locally brewed Indie Ale House which was light and acidic with a smooth finish. If you aren’t sure which beer to choose you can always have a beer flight with a selection of several beers on tap in order to keep up with the playfulness of the menu. Don’t be fooled, they take beer very seriously and are one of the few restaurants I know that require all their staff to have Cicerone certification, which is essentially a sommelier course for beer. They know what they are doing and are doing it very well.
Considering what a buzz these things have when WVRST comes up in conversation, I had to start the night off with their infamous Dirty Fries. For my calorie counting friends, avert your eyes because these are not for the faint of heart.
Duck fat fries (yes, duck fat) that are crispy on the outside and buttery on the inside smothered in bell peppers, sautéed onions and fresh jalapeños; finished off with WVRST special sauce that is sweet and savoury with hints of smokiness, curry and sugar. Think a twist on a poutine, but much better. The jalapeños pack a wallop so be mindful before you take a big bite like I did! An absolute must! On my to-do list is when I come back next time is to try the Duck Fat Fries on their own with all 14 house made dipping sauces to see what that is like!
Step 1: Choose Sausage. With these many choices I had to strategize to try out a few options. From the Traditional menu I thought I’d pick my classic go to’s from the sausage world; Chorizo and Bratwvrst.
To switch things up a bit we chose to get them in the Currywvrst style, which is sliced and topped with a tomato curry sauce and served with a toasted piece of country bread. I’d recommend, in hindsight, to ask for the curry sauce on the side in case it isn’t to your liking.
The Chorizo was beautiful and mild in its flavours, considering this sausage at other restaurants or butcher shops can be too spicy and just aggressive. Mild hints of cayenne, pork and chili paste help to play on the taste buds. And to be honest, it actually worked really well with the curry sauce. Get messy when you order a dish like this in order to get the whole experience!
The Bratwrvst was buttery and with a blend of Veal and Pork, it was almost sweet. Being that I have German heritage, I am a picky sausage eater (insert joke here) but I was pleasantly surprised. The home-made taste of it all left me wanting more.
For the adventurous diner such as myself, I recommend you go right to the Game section of this menu. We were so bold as to try the Elk and Kangaroo. Now before you get all huffy and puffy about me eating Bambie and Roo, understand that dining for me is meant to be an experience of new things and new tastes. So call me a monster if you so feel the need… these dishes were delicious!
The elk sausage is beautiful balanced with porcini mushrooms & cumin infused in the sausage, topped with sauerkraut. An interesting stance to pair a gamey meat with earthy flavours but I applaud the boldness and enjoyed it thoroughly. The kangaroo was smoky and less gamey than I expected. Fine herbs and pepper help give this sausage some strength and added fun to the entire experience of the night.
As the night came to an end, we began to wonder what possible dessert could be waiting for us. WVRST doesn’t currently have dessert options on the menu, though we were privy to some top-secret information in regards to something in the works and trust me, it’s the perfect sweet for this place.
Luckily for WVRST, they’re located directly above Forno Cultura, which is a beautiful authentic Italian Bakery. We were invited downstairs and tried several of their daily baked goods, including their famous biscotti. Pair that with a strong espresso and you have the perfect ending to a dining experience.
Take a risky concept, throw in a perfect location and fill in with enthusiastic, (not to mention easy on the eyes), staff. What do you get? One of my new favourite restaurants in the city when I’m in need of great service, great food and a great time. Stay tuned to WVRST for upcoming events like Oktoberfest beginning September 21st and the second Annual WVRST Craft Invitational which allow us, the dinner, to choose the winner of the best beer pairing made exclusively for WRVST menu items. Stay tuned to their website for more details!