Ocho is a hard to miss lower level lounge/restaurant visible from Spadina. Cheri had once brought me here quickly, and we decided the place never got the attention it deserves. So we made our way after work, on the Thursday before IDS.
Entering from the side, this place is quite minimalistic - the tall ceiling, glass entrance on a brick building. No obvious logo to feel sure we are going the right way.
simple, slightly crisp, peach
I entered and went down the short flight of (industrial-like) metal stairs. The bartender on the other side greeted me and let me pick a spot. As I settled down, I noticed there were a lot of people sitting by themselves on laptops or just enjoying the company of a drink. The ambiance was set with the upbeat Buena Vista Social Club playing the in the background. It felt trendy. On the side of the dining area was a split-level loft area with sofas - a bit of a lounge.
candied oranges, tropical fruit
The waitress handed me their elegant leather gatefold menu, with their logo debossed in the middle - tres chic. I was curious to know more about their Muskoka Mad Tom IPA as well as their Blanche de Chambly. She clearly though the Blanche de Chambly is a better option, as I am more than happy I listened to her. It was floral, white and smooth. Cheri went for his usual Thornbury Cider - crisp, acidic, refreshing. We decided to share an Ocho Salad and their Puff Pastry Tart.
an interesting combination of crisp and sweet, complex palate, medium-bodied
We got some bread accompanied by a small bowl of balsamic, oil and pepper. The mixture was somehow quite watery, but we were glad to calm down our appetite.
Their Ocho Salad has nicely presented - candied almonds on the peek, underneath a generous piece of goat cheese, followed by a large amount of spring leaves and rivers of raspberry vinaigrette. On the side there were plenty of fresh raspberries as well as half an avocado. Honestly, I though there were one too many flavours going on. Definitely no cheap salad to make, perhaps it was the large amount of goat cheese that contributed to my opinion. Perhaps, a bread on the side would have also helped de-intensify the dish.
The Tart came as another heap, with passionate balsamic strokes everywhere. The puff pastry dish was baked with broccoli, chestnuts, blue cheese, pickled apples and romaine hearts. A very experimental chef indeed. I think removing the pickled apples would definitely help, and making the blue cheese just a hint. It was just too many surprises at every bite, I was rather afraid of what is next. On the bright side, I think that the fact that all the ingredients were in large chucks was a good idea - to make sure nobody can have them all ingredients at once.
short but heavy, butter scotch
We made our way to the rest rooms - very cold, but modern, dark and clean. On the way, I saw the stairs leading up to the hotel rooms.
As were leaving, I noticed a fellow designer from school hanging out there. He let me know the artwork on the walls changed every few months - local artists. Currently there were simple colourful circle crops.
The minimalistic interior was a nice contrast to their dishes.
Overall, a sweet, opinionated, pink Muscat.. perhaps from Provence.