Great Eats at the Club (YYT)

You’re walking up Water Street and overhear a couple raving about “The Club”. Quick, where does your mind head? To a crowded venue filled with sweaty patrons gyrating to Pitbull? A sandwich that, while possessing bacon, may or may not have reached its prime? A secret society that drinks from frosted, oversized beer mugs? Luckily, Mark McCrowe’s hot new gastro pub, located at 223 Duckworth, is none of these things. You probably recognize the McCrowe name. After all, he’s the brainchild behind Aqua, recipient of The Scope’s 2011 “Best Restaurant”and Where to Eat in Canada from 2004-2011. So it’s no surprise that The Club has been making quite a buzz around town.

From the minute we entered The Club – Steak, Oysters, Beer – I was impressed. Not only because most human beings would be excited by these three things simultaneously, but because the decor is impressive (think cabin chic). Dark wooden floors and bar make for a warm, inviting atmosphere, with simplistic shades of grey birch throughout. And for those of you who have but one complaint about Aqua – the uncomfortable plastic chairs – you’ll be happy to know these are wooden. There’s also dish cloths for napkins, house sangria and professional, attentive servers.

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Joel enjoyed the French Onion Soup “Les Halles” with bone marrow and local Swiss cheese, which he said was very satisfactory. Considering it’s one of the house specialties, I opted for a half dozen oysters served with lemon, lime and smoked tomato-basil mignonette. These jewels of the sea impressed, although it did take a while for our seemingly inexperienced shucker to pry them open.

We enjoyed some delicious Spicy Wasabi and Sesame Nut Brittle while we waited for our mains. I was expecting an overpowering wasabi flavour but was surprised by the mild nut undertones, which pairs great with beer. All in all, delicious, but a bit crumbly (like trying to eat granola with your fingers). It would certainly be more manageable if it was served in larger chunks.

I really enjoy a decent time between courses, which The Club perfected beautifully. My 8oz Filet Mignon – grilled to perfection – arrived in due time with a side of honey roasted sweet potato wedges with sesame and cilantro.

Joel enjoyed the Prime Rib Eye Steak with pommes frites and pan roasted mushrooms and onions with worcestershire. The mushrooms and onions should be called onions and mushrooms, as the ratio was nowhere near 50/50.

The verdict? Excellent eats in a relaxed, hip restaurant that will no doubt be the topic of people’s raving for months and years to come. Advice? Make a reservation well in advance. We almost didn’t get a table on a random Wednesday night.

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