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Sep 22, 2010 12:40 PM

Brockton General - Anyone been?

Has anyone been yet?

Haven't seen any reviews, except for the small write up on Toronto Life's website:

Guy Rawlings, who has worked for Cowbell, Celestin and if I remember correctly Black Hoof is their chef.

Looks interesting.

Brockton General
1321 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1Y1, CA

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  1. It probably will hurt me to write this, but...

    It was awesome!!!

    My partner and I went for dinner. For appetizers, we had the radish and turnip salad ($9) and the bread and white bean, garlic and anchovy puree ($4) with toasted St. John's bread. Both were delicious, though the salad was slightly lesser value.

    As mains, we had home made tagliatelle with celery greens and garlic ($13), and confied chicken with leeks, guanciale and potatoes ($19). The pasta was perfectly prepared and cooked, an amazingly simple combination of flavours. The pulled chicken was moist and well seasoned. While savoury, the leeks were hard too cut and the restaurant ill-prepared with serviceable knives. Regardless, the mains were perfect. My dining companion felt they could have been a tad larger, but I was satisfied.

    For desert, we had the beignets with honey, grape preserves and yogurt ($6), as well as piece of Grey Owl cheese ($8) with some more of that wonderful St. John`s bread. We had a unique, non-LCBO Cote du Rhone .5 litre for $24. For two people for $110, wine, tip and tax included, it doesn`t get any better.

    Did I mention that the atmosphere is perfectly chilled, with great indie rock music...

    They change the menu every day, though they only serve on Th-Fr-Sa. Enjoy, but save a spot for me in line!

    10 Replies
    1. re: eatravel

      Why would it pain it you to write that? It sounds great.

      1. re: jamesm

        You should translate "it pains me to write about it" to "I'm not sure I should be telling other people who will get in line in front of me about this while it's still possible to actually get in"

        1. re: bytepusher

          Yes, that is why it hurts to say it. It was 80% full last night, so I can only imagine what it might be like when it's written up somewhere, even by some lowly non-writer like myself.

      2. re: eatravel

        Thanks for the info, may try to go tonight. Sounds delicious.

          1. re: miketoronto

            My only concern is that they don't sound very vegetarian-friendly. Most places have a token veggie item on the menu, but it's more complicated with a set menu...

            1. re: piccola

              Guy is all about meat. I think you'll be hard pressed to find a real veggie item on this very small menu.

              1. re: JennaBean

                That's what I thought. Oh well, plenty of other places for me to go!

            2. re: miketoronto

              I was actually surprised that she liked it given that she is so picky on service issues.

          2. re: eatravel

            Finally had the opportunity to check out the resto last Friday night. Arrived just after 6 and was able to get a table with ease for 4. We decided to order a few apps to share, had the white bean and sardine spread, the marinated lima beans and the potted animal (which was a pork terrine). Also ordered a second order of bread, which is no longer St. John's Bakery but is made over at Woodlot.

            All were great, I loved the lima beans. For meals, two of us got the duck breast which came on a bed of sour cabbage, and also included beets and a nice mustard seed sauce. The duck was perfectly cooked, pink in the centre with a super crispy skin. The cabbage and beets were also delicious. The other two in my party had the pasta dish which was also really good. I didn't have it so can't remember what was in it (I remember walnuts was a component).

            Also had the honey pound cake for dessert which came with a squash cream (super good).

            Overall a great meal.

          3. I ate at Brockton General a few weeks ago -- on a weeknight, so only one app/main/dessert on offer -- and we found the food dull, and expensive given that we left hungry ($90 including 1/2 litre wine, tax, tip). Soup was oversalted, and the crostino came without the advertised pancetta (which helped but didn't save it when it did arrive). Service and atmosphere were great, but I wasn't at all impressed by the kitchen. Do I need to go back on a weekend?

            Brockton General
            1321 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1Y1, CA

            11 Replies
              1. re: Full tummy

                Yes, for two -- but the wine was not a big chunk of the bill. At that price point, I want either a solid meal or something that makes me think, Wow, I never could/would have made this at home! I don't want a soup/sandwich combo that is neither filling nor inspiring.

                1. re: accordion

                  $90 all in for two with wine doesn't exactly sound like splurging. Weird that they sent out a bare crostino though.

                  1. re: childofthestorm

                    Went there last weekend and still a little confused by this place. It's a tiny place with limited seating and a very rustic faux-tacky decor (if that makes any sense). They basically try to be cool by keeping it's original decor - kind of looks like an old Italian men's club or your grandparent's bungalo basement bar! I think it works...

                    Anyway, I wish they had a proper website, so I could have known in advance what this place is about. My wife and I were really confused by the menu, which is basically 4 items written on butcher wrap paper on the wall. The four items each had a significant pork element, which I was kind of surprised by, given there wasn't another option. They also have an appetizer(ish) menu with Woodlot's bread (weird), Olives, Spreads, etc.

                    We had the bread, olives and a garlic spread to start. Nothing special - I've been to Woodlot and they do have good bread, but I don't need it at other restos! Olives were good, but that isn't a huge accomplishment.

                    We ordered the sausage and pasta as our mains. Sausage was good and came with fried onions and sliced potatoes and TINY little drops of mustard seeds. It was very good, fresh and tasty and I would probably recommend. However, I can't say it was really worth $15.00 and frankly I don't think this dish is that special - and I could probably make something similar at home with little effort. The potatoes had no seasoning at all - kind of lame. But still a good dish.

                    My wife had the pasta and enjoyed it. Very plain, egg noodle (home made) with egg in the middle and pork shaving on top. It was ok - again, nothing that spectacular and nothing all that flavourful.

                    Bottom line - I love that they make everything from scratch and it comes across in the dishes. Very family style dishes that have that "home made" feel - right down to the grandma style plates! The service is GREAT - the girls that run the place are very friendly, accommodating and knowledgeable about the food. I have to say that made my meal - I'm so sick and tired of snooty Toronto wait staff with chips on their shoulders - who don't really want to know what you think.

                    What I did find out about the odd menu was that they base it on what "animal" they have at any given time. So that week, they had a pig and they were going to use that pig (nose to tail) until it was done. They don't usually get beef I was told - mostly pig, veal, lamb, chicken etc.

                    I, personally, don't care for this approach. I need variety, I need some safe bets and most of all I want to know in advance what the menu will be or I won't go back!!

                    1. re: kosherdill

                      I too had a recently bizarre experience at this place. I really just don't get it. I would not call this a 'restaurant' at all...more of a snack bar. The place just had a weird feel to it. Food was mediocre, and I still can't get over the 3-4 dishes on the menu. Even with just one guy in the kitchen (talented or not), they should be able to come up with at least 5-6 dishes! The place is about 18-20 seats. I would have been more content with a choice of 2-3 appetizers, 2-3 mains and 1 dessert and cheese (which they did have). How this place has gotten so much attention by critics and guests is way beyond me. Finally, the service was fine, but nothing special. I think that if you don't know the young owners or are considered a 'hipster', they really don't know how to act around you. The wine selection was also extremely poor with about 8-10 choices. The wines were of good quality...just wanted more choice. Or at least offer the BYOW program. I agree that if they had a web site stating what their menu is and how many dishes they have on offer, would be a great help. I think they may (or may not be) smart enough to know that if they indeed had a website stating the above that no one would come! I know I wouldn't. Just my thoughts on this place.

                      1. re: The Macallan 18

                        FYI - They do post their menu every day on their Facebook page. Mind you, it's not usually until later in the day but you can view the previous days offerings to get an idea of what they are serving that week. But yes, a website would be helpful. Not a place for picky eaters.

                        1. re: The Macallan 18

                          It says they have $20.00 corkage on their Facebook page...

                          1. re: Full tummy

                            There is a generational divide w/ this place. It is not aimed at old folk.....

                            1. re: aser

                              Totally agree, as I am bit puzzled at the negative reviews. This place is not meant to be a big dining destination. It's a bar that aims to feed the neighbourhood with simple comfort food. The food is not cheap, but it wont really break the bank either.

                              1. re: aser

                                You know, I had dinner there a month of so ago, and there was a table with three people seated, all over 80 years of age. They seemed to very much enjoy their food. The rest of the room was a mix of ages. The group I was with is all in their 40s, and we felt that it was an eclectic mix of people, and the restaurant was definitely not full of 20 something hipsters. Maybe things have changed?

                                1. re: Full tummy

                                  I think there are 2 key issues with this place:

                                  1. They have become a victim of too much publicity. The North York post and other papers called this and Wood Lot the two best new restaurants that "live up to the hype" - ironic how I found both to be quite the opposite. So, like most blockbuster movies I see 6 months later, they aren't as good as the reviews!

                                  2. The menu issue as discussed. More variety & advanced notice.

                                  I agree with the other reviewer - it's more of a local place to have a drink and eat some different food. BUT...the mass marketed Toronto newspapers aren't doing a good job of positioning this place to consumers.

                                  Anyway, I do wish them well as I thought they were very genuine and caring toward their customers. And, if you're not picky, you might love it.

                2. we went for new years.
                  i would rate is as mediocre to bad.
                  one of my friends was a vegetarian. i told the owner before hand and she was cool with it. i told them that i am an open minded eater and love food, but i cannot eat fish/seafood. again, they were cool.
                  we were really looking forward to our visit.

                  the fish-free and veggie dishes were almost insulting. my friend got one dish that was pretty much fingerling potatoes in cole slaw dressing.
                  the main was a duck breast and was very good. it had a cabbage rolls stuffed w/duck. the veggie option? cabbage with a cracked egg on top. i kid not.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: atomeyes

                    They do love the cracked egg dressing/sauce - that's what was on the pasta!!! Seriously, crack and egg and put it on the pasta...the more I think about it, the more ridiculous it sounds. How is this considered haute cuisine by so many???!!!

                    1. re: kosherdill

                      Is it like the Noma dish with the cracked egg? Spendido is doing one at the moment as well.

                      1. re: JennaBean

                        Buca also does this for their Carbonara

                        604 King St. West, Toronto, ON M5V 1M6, CA

                        1. re: jlunar

                          Thank you for the third example. This is kinda of my point. A cracked egg is a common element in many dishes. Not so trendy or unusual. Even soon tofu has a cracked egg. :-)

                          1. re: JennaBean

                            all i can say is unless they're pulling magic tricks out of their wazzoo, there is little to no reason i'd give them a second chance.

                            new years dinner was THAT awful.

                  2. I feel obliged to weigh in to defend B-G and its somewhat unique menu. When Joanne Kates gave it a Rave Review in the Globe last Fall, and I discovered that it's (relatively) local to High Park-Parkdale, I dragged both my teenagers AND my parents (in their late 70s) along.
                    The chef, who was at Cowbell, is doing the nose-to-tail thing (recently fashionable - AGAIN - but, it's not that long ago that we were all forced to eat all parts of the animal - and if you don't like doing this, I strongly suggest that you avoid tourism in Mongolia).
                    My teens were HORRIFIED at being served pig cheeks/jowls, but loved the cheeses, the dips and the desserts. My daughters know their Ontario and Quebec cheeses inside out and rated the selection as excellent.
                    My parents (including my deaf and cranky dad) LOVED the food. The beetroot which was lightly pickled got my mother reminiscing about how greengrocers in England would sell steaming, boiled beets (we are talking about the 1960s). My husband, who went later, rated their brussel sprouts (ugghhhh - I hate them) as the best he's ever had in a restaurant. He could be the President of the World Wide Brussel Sprout Club, if there was one.
                    The bottom line about B-G is that the winter menu, which follows the "local" theme, is just terribly British. It's reminiscent of what everyone who grew up in the UK in the 60s and 70s would have been eating a lot of in the winter.
                    If you want to learn a bit more about this particularly food genre, which, frankly, Brockton General has executed for me, in a tastier way than any British food that I ever ate while growing up, then you should watch the hilarious 1984 movie - A Private Function with Maggie Smith and Michael Palin. (from IMDB: "1947 in a small town in England. The war has been won two years ago, but there's still rationing of meat. When princess Elizabeth is going to marry, a group of businessmen wants to impress (or probably bribe) the local government by giving a big party. They want to slaughter an illegally raised pig for this event. Unfortunately someone steals the pig.")
                    I gave my loyalty to French and Italian food as a teen, but I have always felt that British food could be wonderful, and it is, at this restaurant.

                    Brockton General
                    1321 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1Y1, CA

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: carriesmum

                      Your post is the only one on this board that makes me want to try this place!
                      Thank you!
                      I am neither a hipster not overly picky. I rarely complain in a restaurant. I just want good food and hospitable service ....doesn't everyone? If a place can't deliver that, then they should try another business. I'm not saying chefs shouldn't try and be creative in their menus, but trying to re invent the wheel or be too cool of venue, or too just different often fails .
                      Good luck GB.
                      Thank you carriesmum!

                      1. re: froglegs

                        Dear froglegs,
                        thank you for your kind words. And I agree with your restaurant philosophy. best, carriesmum

                    2. Taste T.O. says that Guy Rawlings is leaving Brockton General to open up his own place.
                      Anyone have any more scoop?

                      Brockton General
                      1321 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1Y1, CA

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: ms. cornbread

                        Yes, both twitter and sources close to the restaurant have confirmed this. Brockton General is currently looking for someone to fill the role of head chef.

                        Brockton General
                        1321 Dundas St W, Toronto, ON M6J 1Y1, CA

                        1. re: table4onthefly

                          Thank you! I'm not on Twitter so I miss this stuff. I enjoyed my experiences at BG, so interesting to see who will replace Guy, and if the direction of the restaurant will shift...

                        2. re: ms. cornbread

                          I went tonight for dinner and found out the following.

                          The new chef is Alexandra Feswick. She's worked at Earth, Auberge Du Pommier in Toronto, but spet most of her formative time at Ancaster Mills.
                          The menu changes daily, and today was my first time there, so I don't know if there has been a departure from the previous cuisine.

                          Today I had the Ewude Cru 9-month aged Cheese to start, a raw sheep milk cheese. 50gm piece for $7, served with 2 slices of Thuet's bread and an apple compote. I loved the cheese (semi-firm, sort of like a cheddar). The compote was interesting as well, it had a fermented, alcoholic quality to it that I liked.
                          For my main, I chose the smoked ham with kale and Sweet potato mash. The dish was spot on and devoid of the saltiness that often accompanies a smoked ham dish.
                          The place wasn't busy (maybe 5 tables around 7:30pm).

                          I know I'll be be back soon to try other items on the menu.

                          609 King St W, Toronto, ON M5V1M5, CA

                          Auberge Du Pommier
                          4150 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON M2P 2C6, CA