Friday, November 4, 2011

Parts and Labour Restaurant, Toronto

This was my first visit to Parts and Labour, a Parkdale neighbourhood resto that a number of friends had recommended.  The front of the resto is very open but also, at prime time VERY noisy. We had reserved the quieter back area for seating, by the open kitchen. There are 3 tables for 4 there. If you don't like loud dining room noise, that is the place to sit! Watching the chefs was a pleasure. They are well organized, highly efficient and for the most part, in prime time, have a remarkable calm. Chef Matty Matheson is a passionate, highly likeable young man and has been joined by a very competent team of professionals. Everyone seems to work well together and they smile a lot despite being cranked up and very busy.

We could not resist ordering the terrine board, a dish that kept passing us by from the kitchen, while we perused the menu. On the left, looking right, we had a jellied terrine of snail and oxtail; next, a red current imbedded terrine with cured lardo and walnuts, wrapped in bacon; next, a bacon, trotter, maple walnut jellied terrine and last, on the far right, one of best beef liverwursts I have enjoyed, topped with sea salt. The platter of terrines was presented with 4 different complements: pickled honey mushrooms; pickled sea asparagus; pickled blueberries; and a peach preserve. I tried everything on it's own before I began to mix and match the flavours of the complements. I loved them all and each had it's own endearing quality of flavours and textures.

Pieces of boudin noir were scattered over a beautifully flavoured pearl barley that had been made with a shrimp shell stock. Pieces of sweet prawn were scattered in the barley. A caramelized roasted cipollini onion was mounted on top (I wished there were more) and cranberry sauce was also presented on the plate. This was a dish of true comfort food with earthy, tart and sweet flavours and the lovely contrasting texture of the barley.

A colourful salad with a very pleasant range of textures was presented with escarole, curly endive, treviso, pieces of butternut squash, honeycomb and beets, a small slab of goat cheese and all mixed with a dressing consisting of buttermilk, shallots and horseradish. A freshly made, flakey, warm cornbread muffin accompanied this terrific dish.

Forty eight hour cured and 24 hour brined slices of fresh whitefish with pickled carrot slices was mixed with crunchy marinated onions and accompanied by very crispy and completely ungreasy, addictive, super-thin shoestring fries and sided with chef Guy Rawlins' double fermented Saskatewan mustard seed mixed in a mayo. A great combination of textures and complementary flavours.

Crispy skinned smoked whitefish cake were accompanied by pieces of pickled shallot, arugula and sauce gribiche. Another enjoyable dish.

And, who could resist the beautiful marrow bones that were roasted to perfection, with the marrow maintaining it's form in a solid chunk, with little oil. We spread the marrow on the thin pieces of toast provided and topped that with sprinklings of sea salt. WOW!! For marrow lovers this dish was also quite addictive!

Choucroute garnie with a pig's face croquette, ham hock, crisp pork belly, steamed fingerling potato and a wonderful Strasberg sausage was joined with a very tasty sauerkrout accompanied by different mustards and creme fraiche. This is the real thing!

Creamed corn and country ham chunks, sweetened with maple syrup was a dish that despite being quite full, we could not stop eating.

A very good steak with cripsy hand cut friets and compound butter (in the bone).

This was the only dish that kind of missed. A very tasty apple filling was in a mushy but tasty pie crust accompanied by large chunks of 10 year old Ottawa valley cheddar cheese.

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