Executive Chef Eric Wood, formerly of Hawthorne Food and Drink, and Fabarnak, now heads the kitchen at the Beverley Hotel’s restaurant. On June 25, we were fortunate to be one of the guests to be treated to the chef’s new summer menu at this young boutique hotel in Toronto’s Queen West neighbourhood.
Upon entering you notice the sleek interiors of the restaurant. The floors were polished concrete, the chairs and bench seating were upholstered in dark, tufted leather, and there were wood and metal accents all around. All this lent to a very sophisticated and modern setting. We sat at the bar before dinner began and sampled a few cocktails. Of these, my favourite was the Elizabeth Houseman, which combined Havana Club rum and Frangelico, and had an interesting mix of sweet, sour, and bitter coming from its lime, chocolate, and hazelnut components. Wood came over to introduce himself and welcome us, and promised a menu that will surprise. Wood was friendly and charming, I personally find it makes a big difference when the chef takes the time to interact with the guests.
From there we proceeded to the dining area, where we were served with our first course – the Fois Gras Torch-on. The foie gras laid on a bed of slaw with sea salt and cider vinegar syrup, which really cut through the richness of the foie gras. Next came the Octopus Ceviche with taro and plantain chips. The chips could have been a little bit crispier, but the ceviche was delicious, with just enough sourness. The Wok Charred Edamame was a surprise. Edamame is usually served either plain or with a little bit of salt, but in this dish, the maple syrup gave it sweetness, the charring gave it smoke, and the chili and salt gave it a bit of a kick – it’s a great combination of flavours for a seemingly simple appetizer.
The Bee’s Knee’s came next. This plate is a play on the traditional Caprese salad. I’ve never seen honey comb or tomatoes still on the vine served in a dish before – these looked great on the plate and worked well together. The Roasted Nova Scotia Scallops was probably my favourite course of the evening. The scallops were cooked to perfection, and the pomelo, tomato, slaw, and avocado complemented the scallops beautifully in both taste and texture. We were also served an Apple and Beet Salad and a Tuna Tiradito. By this time we were starting to feel full, and we haven’t even sampled the mains yet.
We had three main courses. The first was the Birds of a Feather, which is grilled quail, with pomegranate, quinoa, peas, and honey. The peas didn’t quite work for me, but the rest of the components did. The Chinook Salmon with hodge podge vegetables came next. Wood explained that vegetable hodge podge is well known in the Maritimes. Pairing it with a salmon from the west coast makes this a truly Canadian east meets west dish. Did I mention it was also topped with bacon; who doesn’t love bacon? Not to be forgotten is the Turf and Turf, more representative of central Canada, with its pan seared bison loin and its oxtail and foie gras tortellini. The bison was extremely tender, especially for a very lean meat. The Cassava Gnocchi served as the side to these mains. It was cool to see cassava as a star ingredient as one doesn’t see this often. You might more often see this in Filipino and Asian dishes, especially in desserts; Wood reminisced that he grew up with Filipino neighbours, and you can see some of the influence here.
Finally came the desserts. The Banana and Passion Fruit Sorbet was not only made in house, but made to order, using a special machine they had at the restaurant. It started off with the sweetness of the bananas, and finished with the sourness of the passion fruit; the contrast really worked well. The Doughtnuts were soft and airy, and were served with pomelo curd, salted caramel, and cacao nibs. Finally there was the Walnut Alfajores, which were like a Spanish version of a shortbread cookie, accompanied by a guava curd, whipped cream, mango crisp, and strawberry snow. This was a beautifully presented dessert, with the taste to match.
With the new summer menu, Chef Eric Wood was inspired by world cuisine, but using local sources. What was prevalent in all of these dishes was the contrasts – contrast of ingredients, contrast of flavours, contrast of techniques, contrasts of textures. Some of the ingredients were distinctly Canadian – like the scallops and salmon, but were paired with classic French sauces. Edamame is Japanese, but charring them and adding maple syrup introduces a western hemisphere twist. There were also very Latin influences in the ceviche, tiradito, and alfajores.
The Beverley Hotel provided a great dining experience, and the elevated fusion cuisine brimmed with creativity, and surprised just as Wood promised. The hotel also has a rooftop patio, which unfortunately we didn’t get to see due to the rain. Looking at the rooftop menu, there are some standouts that I’d really like to try, including the Bvrly Burger, which is topped with a slice of watermelon, and optionally foie gras or a fried egg. We’ll be sure to visit again this summer to try out their rooftop and snack menus, which if are anything like their lunch and dinner siblings, will definitely surprise and delight.
The Beverley Hotel is located at 335 Queen St. West, at the intersection of Queen and Beverley.
Photos by John Tan