449 Jarvis St Toronto
Open only three months, one of the last standing heritage structures (built in 1891) in Toronto has been converted into a restaurant called The Blake House (previously, The Red Lion).
One of the three owners and brothers, Jim Vasilakakos sat down and chatted with us as well. He described The Blake House as being "comfort contemporary"; a feeling we instantly felt when we arrived, as Jim himself greeted us at the door.
The interior is gorgeous...all dark wood, warm lighting and lined with giant black and white photographs from Jarvis Street in the 1800's.
We were blown away by the food; everything was so fresh and so tasty! As Jim told us, they only buy local, fresh ingredients and everything is house-made. So, our compliments to the Chef David Araya; thank you for a wonderful meal!
We started off with a local beer, Mill Street Original and an Okanaagan Shiraz...which was delightful.
10oz $3.75 - 20oz $5.75 - 60oz $15.95
Mill Street Original
Prospect Red Willow 8 / 23 / 35
Had to try the poutine; how could you not?
Hand Cut Fries and Cheese Curds.
Topped with Bourbon Beef Gravy.
We were warned about the large size, but were blown away by it in reality. It was huge! For $8?! And not drenched in gravy, we could actually taste the hand-cut fries. I've personally decided it's a keeper.
Then, arriving smoking hot, we had the Chicken Pot Pie which I was dreaming about ever since checking the menu prior to arriving at the restaurant.
Chicken Pot Pie 13
Root Vegetables and Roasted Chicken Smothered in
Herb Cream Sauce. Served with Green Salad.
It was one of the best pies I've ever had, not to say I eat a lot of pies, but the very best pie I'd had was in Edinburgh from the Pie Maker. That's, Maker of pies and THIS was on par with THAT.
It was flaky and oozing with such a delicious filling, atypical from the usual potato and rubbery-and-questionable chicken filling. You could actually taste the vegetables (and distinguish them!) from the chicken. The green salad wasn't doused in dressing, either.
The bread and butter are both house-made, the butter changing every night or week according to the chef's desire: Roasted red pepper butter one night (what we had), sage butter, citrus butter... Brilliant and well executed!
Maple Glazed Salmon 18
Roasted Atlantic Salmon. Served with Smashed
Seasonal Potatoes, Braised Leeks with Bacon Burre Blanc.
I found it refreshing to get potatoes (smashed, at that, with salmon, 'cause usually you get salmon:
"seasoned with crushed black pepper and salt served on a bed of basmati rice with vegetables"
"seasoned with a dash of dill and served on a bed of wilted spinach"....
I question a restaurant when they consider salt and pepper SEASONING.
This maple glazed salmon we likened to the way we cook at home: with flavour! The crispy top and break-away center of the salmon was exactly the way I like it. The sweetness of the leeks with the potatoes brings makes me salivate even as I write, as it was just melt in your mouth delicious.
Market Crumble $6.00
Seasonal market fresh fruit and homemade oats baked
golden brown and topped with ice cream (ask your server)
How to describe this market crumble, made to order with blueberries and arriving smokin' hot and so fresh? Oh, I think I just did.
Crème Brulee $6.00
Baked vanilla custard topped with a crusted layer of
caramel and fresh berries
I don't usually order crème brulee, but lately have had cravings for it, and this was a remarkable one and unforgettable. I'd get it again.
The place was packed, even when we were leaving, a group of 25 showed up; but it was no issue to seat the large crowd as the open concept of the interior allows for big as well as intimate gatherings. Our server Kaitlyn was gracious and efficient as well, not missing a beat.
We met with the other two brothers, Nick and Mike, as well; it was so nice to talk to each of them and learn how much it meant to them to preserve the history of the building.
It's evident in the interior design that the original stained glass windows and wood burning fireplace only add to the ambiance of the restaurant. Their patio is possibly the largest in the city, as well.
With an upscale environment serving upscale food but with a down-to-earth vibe and certainly down-to-earth prices, we'd have to agree with Jim and his expression of The Blake House being "your home in the city". Afterall, three hours later, we still weren't ready to leave.