A completely random walk-in for us. Does not usually happen, especially for a small family gathering. A good thing about Queen St. East is how vibrant it became. There are lots of very appealing-looking places in the area nowadays.
APPEARANCE & NOSE
A red neon sign of the word "braised" with extended ascenders caught our eye, with it's sense of simple elegance. We concluded that signage works well here. Another curios element was the metal garage door - their front facade. We decided to give this place a try and check if they can accommodate our large group walking in without a reservation. The restaurant was more adventurous on the inside. Beyond a small stand greeting us, we could notice the bleached brick on one side and a mix of refurbished wood and metal elements throughout. Exposed lights, wooden tables, colourful modern paintings, and dark concrete floor completed the semi-industrial warm style, in our eyes.
SWIRL & PALATE
We decided to get their three course special for $30. We picked the combination of Cesar Salad, Roasted Chicken Breast with Tomato Mushroom Cream and a Chocolate Mousse for dessert. In addition, we got their Seared Mahi entrée for a good measure. Our waitress recommended that we should definitely try their Black Stone 2013 Californian Syrah after hearing the few vocal people express their interest in a sweeter red wine. We promptly ordered a bottle of advertised vintage though the bottle was looking at us from the wine case with shelves right next to our table. We keep on getting surprised to see mid to high price range restaurants storing their wine exposed to light and temperature like that. We suspect it's more of a display case not used to store anything decent.
As our waitress got to know us, she shared that the chef here is a Russian lady. A curious fact, we thought.
At any rate, after our flavourful Cesar Salad with quality Parmesan, came our mains. The Roasted Chicken Breast and Mahi Mahi plates arrived. The former dish was spectacular! In addition to the thick tender meat itself (which was nicely grilled) a garnish of roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli nicely accented the simple meat. They were all artistically pilled in the middle and drizzled in sauce. The seared Mahi Mahi we did not enjoy to the same tune mainly because the thick piece of fish was a bit bland half way through. The chef did go out of her way to compensate which is commendable - the rosemary and thyme beurre blanc drizzle was an element we didn't get enough of. Based in a bed of quinoa and steamed kale, the Mahi Mahi was nicely piedestaled. A special callout to the lightly cooked wilted kale and the tender grilled lemon half on the side.
Lastly, our Chocolate Mousse came. It's light,smooth texture was ideal. The subtle blueberry flavour added that oomph to finish our experience with a smile.
Apart from the gourmet dishes we should mentioned, the citrusy humus (with hints of horseradish) and warm white bread to start with which got us going on this chilly October night. The curious interior ambiance, energetic staff and reasonable prices all contributed to our enjoyment of Braised.