Some of my favorite jaunts are located in Parkdale – Bestellen, Grand Electric, Parts & Labour to name a few. So when I started hearing some pretty rave reviews about Small Town Food Co., I decided to venture out to the west side to give it a try.
The restaurant itself is cute and kitschy. A long bar stretches along the right side of the restaurant and I liked the splash of color that the red chairs gave to the space. Antique lamp posts also stood erect at the front of the restaurant which gave it a really nostalgic look – sort of like walking through Old Towne Toronto.
True to its name, the menu is small and divided by proteins and vegetables as opposed to appetizers, mains and sides. It’s kind of baffling when the drinks menu and the food offerings amount to almost the same, which technically makes Small Town more of a bar than a restaurant.
I don’t have a problem with small menus, as long as you aren’t out of 2 of the major staples (that night being the beer can hen and the lobster board). Sure, they subbed in duck corn dogs and another dish which eludes me at the moment but already the night was off to a disappointing start.
The cocktails here are a hit and miss as I have to send my Small Town Sour ($11) back and swap it for the Born and Raised ($12), a tequila-based drink with fresh lime, mango, guava and bitters, which is only marginally better. My dinner companion opts for the John Deere ($14), a concoction of Espolon Blanco, St. Germain, Chartreuse, lime, basil and bitters which was fantastic. Many layers of flavors and not overly sweet.
Service here is pretty lacklustre as our hipster-clad waitress seems aloof and rather inattentive throughout the evening. If serving tables has been reduced to purely the mechanics of bringing your food to the table, then she for sure gets top marks.
We start with the Beef Tataki ($7), which was beautifully plated but overwhelming on the sesame oil and soy sauce as the sodium levels overwhelm any real beef flavor. The textural contrasts were a hit, but the flavors weren’t.
We then opt for the Crispy Cauliflower ($6), which were fried to a nice golden brown and the aioli was delicious. However, I found that the batter was too oily. Normally that problem can be mitigated if you double-fry them. Still, of the entire evening this was probably the highlight. The cauliflower was soft and piping hot on the inside.
While none of the “mains” really appealed to us, we finally decide on the Honey BBQ Ribs ($21) which is served with a cold potato salad with double smoked bacon. The ribs had great flavor, but were quite bony and dry. This little piggy clearly led quite the opposite of a relaxed life as I bit into its skeletal ribs. The potato salad was rather bland despite the bacon.
At this point of the evening we’ve decided to call it quits. The two most interesting items (for us) weren’t available, and the dishes we end up ordering leave us unsatiated to the point where I don’t even care to look at the dessert menu.
The portion sizes are small relative to their price tag. Small Town is definitely a far cry from what I’d consider to be a “gastropub” and its definitely not ready for the big city.