Sunday, July 25, 2010

Ruby Watchco Squared

Ruby Watchco really is all that and a bag of chips. The food here is as honest as it gets. While you know in your heart there is a thread of pretentiousness that is the aura of this food harbour you simply give it up the minute you wrap your lips around one of their buttery, hot, freshly baked herb & cheese biscuits. All of a sudden you don't notice the noise, you don't notice the seen and wannabe seen's sitting all around you and any thoughts you have about Restaurant Makeover makes a swan song exit out of your brain. Those are some MoFo kinda biscuits. Ask for refills, they gladly oblige.

I've been to RW twice and in both cases I had pork. You know the schtick on this joint, one menu, daily change, etc. etc. etc. So at least by having pork both times I feel like I have a baseline for comparison. Our first visit we sat in the very front of the resto, on the second visit we sat right at the back, in front of the prep/platter area. Chef Lynn Crawford was running the kitchen during my inaugural visit and Chef Lora Kirk the next. Let's start by actually comparing those crazy cooking chef broads. The big question on my mind is who's got the better ink?

Meet the Chefs!

So here's how it panned out over the two dinners......
First Courses:
1st Visit - Mixed greens with smoked trout, heirloom tomatoes, marinated green beans, roasted beets, spicy sliced gherkins and a big fat dollop of egg salad on top. 2nd Visit - Thinly sliced zucchini salad with heirloom tomatoes, roasted beets, roasted peppers and a toasted almonds in a light citrus vinaigrette.

Winner: From an aesthetic standpoint the zucchini salad was gorgeous but I have to say the first salad with that gorgeous smoked trout and chilled egg salad had so many textures going on that I liked it better.

Main Course:
1st Visit - Sliced Pork Loin in a browned rosemary au jus sauce. It was very tasty but I found some of the inner pieces of the loin to be dry. Dry pork is never a good thing. 2nd Visit - Grilled Pork chops, with a tangy poached peach chutney.

Winner: Of the two pork dishes, hands down the winner was the grilled pork chop with the peach chutney. The grilled chop, which was two bones thick oozed with juice and was slightly pink.

Side Dishes:
1st Visit<Sides included a risotto with Chorizo and peppers. I'm a carbo junkie and usually love risotto but I just found this risotto left me wanting. A zucchini dish with cabbage, sugar snap peas, lima beans etc. was surprisingly delicious considering I hate lima beans with a passion (It's a throw back to my Mother who was English and cooked them into something you eat with a straw.)
My favorite side of the night was the seared rapini & wild mushrooms.

2nd Visit: Sides included a small casserole dish with sausages in it. Tasty yes but geez, how much meat can a girl shove down her gullet in one sitting. I loved the savoy cabbage slaw with bacon, dressed with a slightly creamy dressing, kind of playing up the Caesar salad slaw angle and it worked. The carbo zone this visit was a Polenta Potato concoction that had sugar snap peas, mushrooms and large pearl onions in it. It was slather worthy!

Winners: If I could pick my pair to have together I'd have to go with the seared rapini with mushrooms and the potato polenta with pearl onions concoction.

Cheese Course:
1st Visit - Fifth Town Cheese. It was soft and creamy like a Riopelle/Tallegio. It was served with a Grapefruit compote. 2nd Visit - Montforte Dairy Cheese which was very dry and hard, akin to a Parmesan. It was served with drunken raisins and shredded carrots.

Winner: I love Ruth Klahsen of the Cheese Goddess/Diva of the Montforte Dairy to bits but I have to go with the Fifth Town cheese as my top dog choice. The rich creaminess of the Fifth Town was just an aorta choker and Chef Crawford had this Grapefruit compote on the side that created the perfect acidic balance for this thick, creamy cheese. Big props to the restaurant for also providing a decent side amount of grilled bread to accompany the cheese.

1st Visit - Cherry S'mores which was actually more like dessert food porn. It was macerated cherries atop a base of graham crumbs, with a large thick wad of melting chocolate, topped with homemade marshmallow that had been toasted. 2nd Visit - Again with the cherries and the chocolate. Macerated cherries atop a brownie with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.

: Gotta go with the Larry Flynt of desserts, the porn S'mores. So here's my food fantasy around these S'mores.... it involved Dirk Diggler from Boogie Nights and I get to recreate my own scene. K, 'nuff said 'bout that. I think you get the idea.

The wine & cocktail lists are absolutely decent. I was really pleased to see some non Ontario wine options on the wine list. On our first visit we ordered a bottle of Prosecco and a bottle of Chianti. On my second visit I opted for a cocktail called the Charlemagne and a glass of an unoaked Chardonnay from Organized Crimes. Organized Crimes is an exceptional small NOL winery.

Our Waitstaff! >
Service was good. This place is hopping so these guys really earn their coin. Tables are really packed in so the staff works hard to hustle the food out from the back of this restaurant to the front of the house and I've sat in both ends of this restaurant so I've seen what they have to plough through. The staff are attentive and like the Chefs they work for they are extremely personable. (There is a certain pizzeria, who's rep is that they are supposed to be the best in the city, whose staff could take a lesson or two from the Ruby Watchco crew.) The RW staff don't do snooty. They are good natured and you never feel like you are intruding in on their day.

At the end of the day....I really dig Ruby Watchco. Our guests absolutely loved the dinners. They are still talking about their evening out. It's a happening spot with the focus on all the right things. Decent food with a local slant and a commitment to making sure that the customers have a great meal. You can check their website for the menus online for the coming week. Hope you enjoy your food as much as we did. Thanks to Chef Lynn & Chef Lora. You cucina cuties rock the house!

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