Located inside the Great Hall is the Samuel J. Moore, so named for the founder of the Moore Corporation, who was commissioned to erect this building (circa 1889) which housed the first YMCA in the west end.
The decor is Parisian bistro meets Gotham New York City saloon with mosaic-tiled floors and marbled counter tops.
Mixologist Sean Radzio (Against the Grain) knows how to shake things up! I’ve sampled 3 of their cocktails and so far I haven’t met one I didn’t like. Gone are the days of overly-sweet cocktails that might as well be sold as juice, and in with libations that are a full-mouth experience. Lots of great flavours coming together. Cue my favourite (pictured above, left) – the Shrubbery ($10); a drink that pays hommage to drinking vinegar accented with apple, Rum, spices and bitters. Drinking vinegars date back to pre-refrigeration days.
Alexandra Feswick (Brockton General) (wo)mans the kitchen and is putting out some tasty, tasty dishes. There is a fair amount of favouritism on the short menu; namely a bias towards fennel and radish as well as three beef entrées (a burger, a striploin and a filet). Speaking of menus, there are quite a few here – bar snacks, brunch, lunch, dessert and dinner.
The Fresh Kale Salad ($9) with apples, toasted walnuts and radish was a light way to start dinner and I liked the different textures. A bonus that the kale was not bitter.
Surely one of the most popular items on the menu is the Hand Chopped Sirloin and Bone Marrow Burger ($18) served on a brioche bun with frites and a house made fennel ketchup. There aren’t many burgers out there that can be in the nude (e.g. no garnishes) and not incur the wrath of criticism – but this one, I think is a winner. The only other accompanying flavour on this juicy, meaty burger is Stilton which added lots of flavour.
She also does a great spin on a traditional Italian risotto ($18); substituting Arborio with pearl barley which gives it a nice “crunch” and nuttiness. The fried sage adds a subtle extra bit of texture to this dish, served with roasted cauliflower and lardons. Nonna would be proud.
Desserts are a hit and miss as the Triple Layer Chocolate Cake ($8) had a dry cake base though I do like this play on the traditional Black Forest Cake. In this remade version you’ll find sour cherry jam, chocolate ganache and a lovely honey Jack Daniel’s meringue. In contrast, their Chocolate Hazelnut Flourless Torte (pictured, $8) with caramelized hazelnuts, chocolate ganache and honey whisky whip cream was stellar. Most flourless tortes are extremely dense and leave you feeling heavy. This version was light and airy but still as flavourful and just as satisfying as its other “heavyweight” contenders. It is now my favourite flourless chocolate torte in the city.
The Samuel J. Moore has quickly made its way up my list of favourite new restaurants of 2013. The staff are all very knowledgeable and friendly; the food is yummy; and the music is not too loud. It’s also comforting to know that if I ever decide to get back to my wild days of clubbing or partying, that I can at least stumble here for a good meal (they’re open until 4AM on weekends, 2AM on other days).