Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Tartan Toque

Address: 1507 Pandora Ave. (Stadacona Centre)
Phone: (778) 265-9464
Price: $9 for a pound of wings
Notes: Super casual family-friendly focusing on doing one thing and doing it well

The Tartan Toque

This brand new restaurant in Victoria has exploded onto the scene with so much buzz I was nervous about making this post without visiting a few times to let things settle in a little bit. Still, started by the owner and a chef from brunch darlings Shine it's no surprise to me that they were so popular, although they admitted they didn't expect to be as slammed as they were at the start, selling out of beer and wings exponentially faster than they had expected.

The centre of the restaurant is wings - a fantastic collection of flavours and sauces that seems to be growing by the day, or at least has enough flavours that there's no way I will be able to try them all any time soon! They also have a good selection of sides, including an "onion nest" and fries tossed in any of the sauces for the wings.  Hot dogs and burgers also make an appearance on the menu, pleasing those who aren't fans of wings. They've really only been open a month so things are still settling in including, admitted Barry, techniques for ensuring the sauces stay on the wings, but things have been improving with every visit.

The space itself is pretty eclectic. It formerly held a fish & chip shop, and it hasn't changed too much except that bright paint colours and art from the Woodpile Collective adorn the walls. Dark booths and bright tables end up with an extraordinarily casual feel overall. Combine that with the lack of table service and the fast-food baskets and it kind of reminds me of a cross between what I imagine a beer parlour was like with memories of my high school cafeteria. I don't think this is a bad thing, because outside of a pub there are few places or glorified coffee shops like QV's you can go to have such a casual meal in Victoria, and sometimes you want to just show up and not care if you're wearing your high heels or your crocs.

March 23, 2013
I visited one last time before making this post, aiming for peak Saturday time once again. Unfortunately, as I was arriving at the table with my trays I managed to dump my wings (thankfully just my own) off the tray and onto the table. Thankfully, they landed on top of their own wrapper so few had to be sacrificed but it rendered any photos unflattering.

The dill wings were my choice after a recommendation a few days before, and I wasn't disappointed even with the spillage! Big chunks of pickle and a lovely sauce accompanied them. I also tried a buffalo boneless wing chosen by my partner-in-food-and-life, which are completely made in house. They were most excellent! I would opt for the boneless wings next time, as they are only 50¢ more and I always feel like I waste so much not wanting to pick around the bones for the last scraps of meat.

I also tried the tossed fries, opting for the dry garlic rub. I'm not sure if I would go with the garlic again if only because I still feel like I am oozing garlic smell four days later, but they were certainly tasty!

February 22, 2013
(Full disclosure: I wasn't able to sneak in unnoticed as a blogger this day, but the co-owner crossed his heart he wouldn't tell the kitchen).

Soy Wasabi Ginger Wings
Soy Wasabi Ginger
After reading several recommendations online these were at the top of my list to try, and I wasn't disappointed. Sticky, sweet, salty and slightly spicy (and a friend at the table had them on the next visit and they looked even better!). 

Toque Burger
The burgers were also getting a fair bit of attention - and rightly so! There has been such a good run of burgers around town lately, and this is one of the good ones! They swore up and down that it's the same burger as they serve at Shine, although I swear it's way tastier here than I ever remember it being at Shine (but then again I usually have a benny). I suspect it has to do with the cooking of the burger patty, however: not over or under coking a hand-made patty is an art, for sure.

Greek Wings

My lunch companion ordered these, but generously shared one. They were quite lovely, as they are not too bready, but had a garlic and herb dressing that was delicious. The feta on top was lovely, although my companion noted that there could have been a bit more of it.

February 8, 2013
We arrived this day, the first Saturday they were open, to a line up that snaked around the restaurant and people everywhere! I explain this in order to explain that although things were not perfect, it was understandable given that they were still experiencing some teething pains. 

Onion Nest
Onion Nest
I am curious to try this again - I like this concept, it reminds me of the imfamous blooming onion (which the Buffy fan in me is intrigued by). It was a bit under deep-fried tonight, but I think with a bit of extra time in the cooker (aka not their first Saturday) and I think it would be an excellent appetizer to share with a group. 

Coconut Wings

An interesting flavour - also suffered from a short time in the frier so it's difficult to judge. It looks as if they are using coconut powder, which was surprising to us, as we were expecting shredded coconut. I've heard it's been or is being revamped a little, so we will have to try it again. 

Honey Garlic Wings

Honey Garlic
These were my favourite from the evening. Sweet and savoury is always a good combination, and there was plenty of sauce to dip down into in the bottom, which is something that makes wings extra delicious in my books. 

Because the service here isn't table service there shouldn't be too much to say, and yet there is — even that first day we visited when they were slammed to the max Barry came around to every table soliciting feedback and remembering names left-right-and-centre. I know that he is working hard to make sure it becomes the restaurant he and his chef business partner dream it will be.

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