Monday, 11 March 2013

Toronto Restaurant Review: Bloke & 4th (Supper Club)

Bloke & 4th (Source: Toronto Life)

Based on various positive recommendations, I chose to have my birthday dinner this year at Bloke & 4th, marketed as "King Street West's Premiere Supper Club". It's a pretty cool place, really. It's based on a concept of combining globally inspired social dining (read: elevated fusion food served in shareable appetizer form) in a venue that is all at once a restaurant, lounge and club. They also market themselves as an establishment that uses locally-sourced, sustainable meats, fish, poultry and produce. Finally, when I heard that the Food Dudes (one of Toronto's best-known food truck/high-end catering masterminds) were behind the kitchen, I knew I had to give this place a try. 

Fire Roasted Shrimp with Guacamole, Sour Mango and Lotus Root

For any party of 10 or greater, they will ask you to make a selection for the entire group from the seasonal prix-fixe menu with either a $45 or $55 option. On the Spring 2013 menu (which just came out this week!), the $45 option included 8 "social apps", some of which I have taken photos of for you here (although the mood lighting and various distractions made it quite difficult to capture!)

Hearts of Romaine Salad with Bacon, Parmesan, and Brioche Croutons 
Beer Battered Tilapia Fish Tacos
Tofu Tacos: vegetarian alternative 
Itzumo Tuna and Wild Salmon Tartare with Taro Chips
Braised Brisket Sliders on a Caramelized Onion and Cheddar Brioche 
Churros served with Bourbon Caramel Sauce and Chocolate Sauce
Some of my lovely friends and I at our table for 17

I don't really want to do a pro and con list for this particular event because I know that birthdays and special events are not your normal dining experience. It is likely that no matter what I say in this post, you could have an entirely different experience based on when you go, who your friends are, who your server is, and how well communication goes for your reservation.

Overall, the food was really quite good (and so were the cocktails!) and I think most of my friends left full and satisfied.

However, I do have some qualifying points to add to that statement: 

1) For my vegetarian friends: Although their vegetarian substitutes looked quite appropriate, I think it was a bit of a cop-out to give my vegetarian friends doubles of the same thing to substitute for two different courses that the rest of us "omnivores" got. I also don't think it's really fair to them to get the same salad, but without the bacon. Tilapia costs more than tofu. A slice of wasabi pea crusted tuna on Bangkok Slaw (which was one of the other dishes not pictured above, the other being a veal meatball and grilled polenta) has a far greater substantive value than a Bangkok Slaw without. Just sayin'.

2) On the cost: It was an expensive dinner, no doubt, but I guess that is a price to pay for the Toronto entertainment scene. Although I don't think that $45 with a 18% gratuity was outrageous, and while I do admit that I really enjoyed each item, I do think that in the mask of the swanky venue, buzz words, and sophisticated plating, the portions were kind of small. I also think that they could have served a much more substantial dessert. Finally, note that if you are not coming for dinner, cover is a steep $20 after dinner service. 

3) On the service: Like I said above, this is something that can vary from experience to experience. For this particular event, I did have some logistical issues with booking that made things a lot more complicated than necessary, but to be fair, it was partially my demands that made it difficult. However, all that was obliterated with our main server Matt, who was the most attentive, sweetest, charming man that you could ever imagine. He made up for all of that, for sure!

Final Note: I'm coming back. Despite all the pretention, it's legitimately a cool place and the design of the venue itself is so well thought out. Above all else, I had a great night with some of the best friends that a girl could ask for and the dining experience was a great start to a great evening!

Rating: 3.5-4/5

Bloke and 4th on Urbanspoon

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