YOU GOTTA EAT WHILE YOU DRINK

THERE ARE REA­SONS FOR SUDS LOVERS TO CHECK OUT TH­ESE EATER­IES – EI­THER THEY HAVE IN­TRIGU­ING BEER LISTS OR THE FOOD PAIRS UP NICELY

NOW Magazine - Beer Guide - - FRONT PAGE - By STEVEN DAVEY

ñBar Is­aBel

797 Col­lege, at Shaw, 416-5322222, baris­abel.com, @baris­abel797

After tak­ing Hog­town by storm at Black Hoof, char­cu­terie king Grant van Gameren resur­faces with a tav­erna that looks like it stepped right out of the back streets of Barth­elona, from the crazy-quilt ce­ramic tile on the floor to the pe­riod light fix­tures cast­ing or­nate pat­terns on the arched ceil­ing over­head. Suave ex-Brock­ton Gen­eral and Bell­woods Brew­ery toque Guy Rawl­ings fronts the house with con­sid­er­able aplomb and steers first-timers through a care­fully cu­rated lineup of im­ported lagers and pricy bour­bon-bar­relled stouts. Shame the acous­tics are so hor­rific you can’t hear a word he – or any­body! – says.

Best: to start, dev­illed duck eggs dressed with shred­ded salt cod and mor­cilla blood sausage; the mixed char­cu­terie plat­ter – wa­ter buf­falo slinzega, pork jerky, hunter’s sausage and im­ported Iberico ham, say – paired with sharp Beem­ster-like Ital­ian Job cheese, can­died ap­ple mostardo and warm rus­tic sour­dough sprin­kled with sea salt; Hoof holdovers like roasted veal bone mar­row; crisply bat­tered south­ern-fried chicken over deep-fried egg­plant driz­zled in honey and chili flakes; grilled hanger steak with blis­tered shishito pep­pers; sides of wilted Swiss chard tossed with wine-soaked raisins in ag­gres­sive an­chovy dress­ing; grilled spring scal­lions in clas­sic Romesco sauce; to fin­ish, chef de cui­sine Bran­don Olsen’s salted choco­late mousse splashed with but­tery olive oil; sub­tle Basque al­mond cake fin­ished with a sherry-bol­stered cream and a lobe of grilled foie gras. Nightly 6 pm to 2 am. Closed hol­i­days. Reser­va­tions ac­cepted. Av­er­age ta­pas $11. Li­censed. Ac­cess: bar­rier-free, wash­rooms in base­ment. Rat­ing:

NNNN

ñCafe 668

885 Dundas W, at Clare­mont, 416-703-0668, cafe668.com

Call it the neigh­bour of the beast or the anti-Hoof. After the run­away suc­cess of their mod­est veg­e­tar­ian hole-in-the-wall, Hon Quach and Ngoc Lam moved what’s be­come one of the best her­bi­vore haunts in town into far fancier digs a few blocks west. While the name re­mains the same, the bor­der­ing-on-chic room – floor-to-ceil­ing glass, off-white ban­quettes – sig­nals that 668 has upped its game con­sid­er­ably. An in­no­va­tive South­east Asian menu – the majority of it ve­gan – servers who treat first-timers as friends and reg­u­lars like fam­ily, and an all-or­ganic beer and wine list make this a din­ing des­ti­na­tion for ’vores of all per­sua­sions.

Best: the epony­mous main-sized salad, a ri­otous mix of crunchy English cu­cum­ber, cel­ery and car­rot dressed with cashews, crushed peanuts and bar­be­cued tofu with Thai mint in a sweet Sriracha vinai­grette; hefty rice-pa­per-wrapped Sum­mer Rolls stuffed with shred­ded cab­bage, cel­lo­phane noo­dles, car­rot threads, wilted napa cab­bage and Thai basil; deep-fried Ja­panese egg­plant in tem­pura bat­ter with co­conut curry sauce; Hawai­ian fried rice with tomato, fresh pineap­ple and faux pork; an idio­syn­cratic ketchup-free take on pad thai tossed with car­rot, peanuts, cab­bage, sprouts ’n’ ‘shrooms; Viet­namese-style hot ’n’ sour soup; to fin­ish, deep­fried ba­nanas with ve­gan co­conut cream. Mon­day to Thurs­day 5 to 9 pm, Fri­day 5 to 10 pm and Satur­day 3:30 to 10 pm, Sun­day and hol­i­days 3:30 to 9 pm. Reser­va­tions ac­cepted. Av­er­age main $13. Li­censed. Ac­cess: one step at door, wash­rooms in base­ment. Rat­ing:

NNNNN

ñeleCtrIC Mud

5 Brock, at Queen W, 416-5168286, @elec­tric­mudbbq

Black Hoof vet Colin Tooke and Ian McGre­naghan’s south­ern-fried bean­ery is to bar­be­cue as their nearby Grand Elec­tric is to ta­cos: not re­ally, kinda sorta-ish with a post-ironic twist. That’s not to say chef Ben Den­ham’s flavour pro­files aren’t as big as Texas or as loud as the ZZ Top on the turntable, just that purists might want to look else­where. The rest of us will gladly wait in line for one of 24 pre­cious seats. Don’t queue for ’cue? The Mud now does limited take­out!

Best: to start, a round of Porch Crawlers – gin, wa­ter­melon lemon­ade and Thai basil – chased by bot­tles of kitschy Sch­litz fol­lowed by what Den­ham calls “crack rolls,” ad­dic­tive house-baked din­ner rolls spread with salty whipped but­ter laced with pork drip­pings; of a slightly health­ier bent, sal­ads of Bos­ton let­tuce tossed with crispy pigs’ ears and sliv­ered radish in cayenne-spiked but­ter­milk dress­ing; fatty pigs’ tails mopped with Kansas City-style sauce and sided with blue cheese dip à la Buf­falo chicken wings; mains like lean pas­trami-like smoked ’n’ glazed duck “ham” with chicken-skin crack­ling; pork side ribs fin­ished with crushed peanuts and a sticky sweet ’n’ sour glaze; on the side, roasted pa­prika-dusted cauliflower with de­hy­drated le­mon; for dessert, miniMa­son jars of soft-serve bay leaf ice cream with le­mon zest; de­con­structed ba­nana cream pie with crum­bled-cookie crust Wed­nes­day to Mon­day 5 pm to 1 am. Bar till close. Closed Tues­day, some hol­i­days. No reser­va­tions. Av­er­age main $12. Li­censed. Cash only. Ac­cess: bar­rier-free, tight seat­ing, wash­rooms up­stairs. Rat­ing: NNNNNz

Brodie Power (clock­wise from top left), Abi­gail Brad­well and Ja­son Costantini tuck into lunch at Wvrst; bar man­ager Josh Young serves up a pint of Junc­tion Con­duc­tor’s Ale, one of many brews on tap, at 3030; Snack on the dev­illed duck egg at Bar Is­abel; Elec­tric Mud BBQ’s beer taps are as beau­ti­ful as the brews.

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