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Oct 16, 2004 11:29 PM

Sky Ranch Argentinian restaurant

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I had dinner at Sky Ranch, at Dufferin and Castlefield. It's a family-owned place with a classic Argentinian menu, heavy on grilled meats and with some Italian dishes thrown in.

The appetizers were quite good: grilled provolone cheese, excellent beef empanadas, and palm hearts with marinated red peppers and Russian salad. The mains included some hard-to-get meats like molleja (the thyroid gland of the cow, I believe), morcilla (blood sausage), chinchulin (beef or lamb intestins), kidneys, and chorizo (similar to mild Italian sausage) as well as a couple of different cuts of steaks, short ribs, and milanesas (wiener schnitzel made with beef or chicken). There was also some seafood and pastas on the menu but we didn't try them. Decent french fries and salads as sides.

The flan con dulce de leche was great for dessert; other things available are queso y dulce (a thick slice of creamy cheese with a sort of custard made with sweet potato on top), tiramisu, and various crepes (panqueques).

Being Saturday night, there was also live music. The place was packed with a mostly Spanish-speaking crowd.
The service was very informal and friendly but quick.

The price: about $30 per person, including a half-litre of house wine and taxes!

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  1. I went there with my Argentinian spouse... the food was good. Word of caution if you want to eat while you eat: get there later than sooner - the band was an hour late the night we went... overall a great experience, though :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: Louise

      ... I should have written "if you want to eat while listening to live music...!"

    2. Just wanted to post a more recent review from my own first visit!

      We went on a Wed, (which, I'm starting to discover, is the best day of the week to go out for dinner)

      It was fabulous. We ordered the mixed grill as described above. Unfortunately we ordered it for two, with appetizers, with a warning from the extremely kind & entertaining hostess/waitress (owners mother I believe) about how much we thought we could eat. And of course she was correct in her advice-we couldn't finish it, so *fortunately* we had lots of leftovers the next day :D

      FOr appetizers had the calamari- lovely, fresh & lightly breaded. As well the Ensalade Rusa (russian potatoe salad) & grilled provolone that was to die for.

      Jut some quick notes about "ambiance"- if you really care about decor, it's a little mixed- late 80's graphic patterned seating, with argeninian/country chotches hanging all over. So if such things bother you, fair warning here. It could use say, a nice fireplace rather than a big screen TV, but apparently it serves it's duty during the day time bar crowd. But night dining lighting is perfect- I can see my food & my dinner date(amazingly enough an oddity in some establishments), complete with candles. (My personal requirement for great dinner dining)

      The location is a little off the beaten track (Bathurst & castfield, near Roselawn), but if you hppen to live in one of the factory turned condos, it's a great spot.

      Definitely going back, as the service was great, the price is right-

      1 Reply
      1. re: EPIcureanTO

        How's this for ambiance - there was a wedding there tonight!! We went early for dinner (6pm) and notice that half of the restaurant was set up for a large party. About midway through our meal (fantastic empanadas, I love their homemade steak sauce, the single order of parrillada is definitely too much for one so now I'm going to have blood sausage, kidney, sweetbreads, brisket and sausage for breakfast. Yum yum, can't wait!) a large group arrive and the next thing we know, they're performing a wedding ceremony right there in the middle of the dance floor. I felt truly bizarre eating through their wedding but the hostess/owner said it's quite common there. It's redefined my definition of "live entertainment" with dinner ;-)

      2. Big whoops. Sky Ranch is on Dufferin. It's best to go quite late to very late.

        2 Replies
        1. re: embee

          Yes,embee- thanks for catching my error- however- their WONDERFULLY done website even has a map!

          Fickle- that's awesome!! What a great idea to get married in a restaurant- think of the money one could save-lol..I'm going to have to try the empanadas next time

          1. re: EPIcureanTO

            I was at Sky Ranch for the first time on a Saturday, the place was packed of people having a great time. The food was excellent, we had the parrillada for two that really was for 4. The service was like having dinner at home, the servers are friendly and you are welcomed like one of the family. There was also entertainment a group of three that sounded like 20 Havana Express excellent music a mix of Latin, Italian and 60' & 70's music people danced and had a great time. Overall we had a wonderful time surely going back and I suggest everyone to try it. We are going back!!!!!

        2. Went to Sky Ranch on Saturday night, having seen some good reviews here. It's exactly the kind of place we love to eat in - very unpretentious, with warm service and tasty food. We started with the empanadas - a coarse mince of beef, nicely spiced and then heated on the grill...we ordered 2, and wished we'd ordered 4. :) They brought us a lovely herby sauce with the empanadas (I'm assuming it was chimichurri, but I'd never had it before so I couldn't say for certain) - tasted like a light vinaigrette with parsley, oregano, garlic and rosemary (?). My SO ordered the French onion soup...and while the stock was quite tasty, I can only describe the presentation, as, well - odd. Onion soup topped with a piece of what seemed to be white sandwich bread with a slice of cheese on top, which didn't appear to be melted. Nonetheless, the SO dove in with reckless abandon, and discovered that the soup was plenty hot enough to melt the cheese when submerged.

          The mains were terrific - I had the argentinian grilled steak (churrasco argentina alla parilla) with salad. It was cooked to a perfect medium and nicely marinated. The salad had crisp lettuce and onion, and a couple of unfortunately pink winter tomatoes...but I pretty much just ignore fresh tomatoes when we're not in the sweltering summer, so no great loss there. But my spouse's main with the unquestioned winner of the evening - he had the sauteed diced beef with rice, potatoes and a fried egg (Lomo Saltado con Arroz, Papas y Huevo Frito). The beef was wonderfully tender and a bit saucy, spiced with (I think) garlic, paprika and maybe cumin. It had been pan fried with onions and peppers, and was ladled around a mound of comfortingly soft rice upon which the fried egg was presented. On the edges of the plate were slices of floury yellow potatoes fried crisp at the edges and steaming hot. He basically went to town and ate it rather like bibimbap (breaking up the fried egg and mixing everything together into a sort of hash). Not sure if that was what you're supposed to do with it, but it tasted amazing, with all the contrasts of texture and flavour. It was what my father refers to as 'real food', and what others sometimes disparagingly describe as 'peasant food', but really, it should just be called 'delicious food'.

          We ended with the dulce de leche crepes, and I could have died a damned happy woman right there. The crepes were freshly fried and the dulce de leche was warm and it all combined into a yummy butterscotchy plate of wonderful.

          The service was unrushed...which was only problematic when we were looking for the bill, b/c we were full, content, and in serious danger of falling asleep at the table. Dinner for 2 with 2 empanadas, the soup, 2 mains, 1 dessert and 2 imported beers cost us about $65 (taxes in), which is pretty darn good value for money. We're definitely going back.

          7 Replies
          1. re: wickalicious

            Nice review! I love lomo saltado, and will have to try Sky Ranch's version. My favourite is at El Bodegon, a Peruvian place on College. You should visit sometime and do a comparison.

            1. re: TorontoJo

              Will do - El Bodegon is a place that I've been meaning to hit for a couple of years now. Is lomo saltado a dish common to many South American cuisines? Is it the sort of thing that gets re-invented with regional differences? And if so, are there any other places in Toronto where you've found a good rendition of it? I'm a starch fiend, and think I could easily get hooked on this stuff.

              1. re: wickalicious

                I actually thought it was a specifically Peruvian dish. I had it at Boulevard Cafe once (I think it was a special, though) and I've looked up recipes for it, thinking to make it at home. Haven't had it anywhere else, though, hence my eagerness to try it at Sky Ranch. It sounds like a slightly different presentation than at El Bodegon, but the basic ingredients are the same. I remember the first time I had it, I thought "potatoes and rice together?" But boy, does it work! The dish at El Bodegon is top of my list for starchy comfort food. And I mix the whole shebang together with the rice, too!

                BTW, get the beef lomo saltado, not the chicken. The chicken version is not as good IMO.

                1. re: TorontoJo

                  Just an FYI, there are a couple of places on St Clair that serve lomo saltado. Not sure which is best but you might want to check out El Plebeyo, Dona Luz and El Fogon.

            2. re: wickalicious

              That sounds amazing, wick. I have passed that place so many times and have always wanted to go in.

              1. re: wickalicious

                Thanks for that report!

                I went to Sky Ranch with a meetup group once, and we really enjoyed it. There were a few people in the group (it wasn't a group of hounds, for sure!) who were put off by things like blood sausage in the large combination plates, but everything was excellent. They bring the platters our on a grill plate to keep them warm, which meant some things got a little overdone by the time we were finished eating but it was a minor concern.

                1. re: wickalicious

                  el bodegon is pretty good...try el fogon up on st. clair and bathurst their lomo saltado is good as well. el plebeyo is another peruvian restaurant at st. clair and bathurst, but i prefer going there for their jalea, which is amazing. i think el plebeyo might be the same owners as el bodegon? could be mistaken on that though...

                2. I went the other night with my girlfriend and thought it was great. The sangria was really good (if a bit on the sweet side), the grilled provolone and the empanada was great, and my lomo saltado was amazing.

                  The only downside was my girlfriend's was completely tasteless. We asked for it to go (despite not really having any plans to eat it, really just so they wouldn't feel bad that we left most of it) along with the rest of my lomo (the serving sizes are BIG), but when the waitress came back with the food wrapped up she told us that the regular fish cook (the son) was not in that day and that the father had forgotten to add an ingredient to the paella, which explained the lack of taste. She also said that because of this the paella was free.

                  I thought this was really nice because a) she could have kept quiet about it and we wouldn't have said anything, and b) it was the single most expensive thing we ordered at $20. The waitress said (and I believe they really feel this way) that she would much rather have people feel good and come back despite a small mistake than to not say anything, go home, and never return.

                  You really get the feeling that everyone there cares about the food and about you leaving happy, and because of this (and the rest of the food, which was great) we will definitely be returning.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Strongbad789

                    Holy crap! Are you sure this place is in Toronto? What customer service is that? On the strength of your story, this place has vaulted up my "to visit" list.

                    1. re: hungry_pangolin

                      My family stopped in this past Saturday night. We arrived late for the reserved time due to horrible traffic. We called ahead worried about being late and were assured that there were no problems.
                      The food was excellent, Sangria was smooth and very enjoyable. Service was more like visiting a relative's house-very attentive and friendly. A very enjoyable experience, great beef and reasonable prices.
                      We would not hesitate to go back-only regret is that the music started a little earlier, 2130 is a bit late to be starting for some of us older, non Argentine folks.

                    2. re: Strongbad789

                      Good on them for addressing the problem without you even asking. I put this restaurant on my "want to try" list based on the other hounds reviews. This moves it up to the "must try" list. My bet is that they get back much more than $20 as a result of coming your paella.

                      1. re: idnas

                        Great to hear that this restaurant still cares about its food and their guests' experience. I used to go quite often when I lived in Toronto and think it might be time to go back.