TAVERN BY TREVOR (147 Spadina, at Richmond, 416-546-3447, tavernbytrevor.com, @tavernbytrevor) Complete dinners for $40 per person (lunches/brunches $30), including tax, tip and a domestic beer. Average main $15. Open daily from 11 am till late. Weekend brunch to 3 pm. Closed holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Rating: NNN
Though it may be lacking in au courant decor – cheap barnboard and filament bulbs are so three years ago – Trevor Wilkinson and Mike Yaworski’s Tavern by Trevor couldn’t be more right on trend if it tried. Thank the powers that be they didn’t call it Trevor’s Farmhouse Cocktail Kitchen and Snack Bar.
Wilkinson’s best known for the long-running Trevor on Wellington East, and Yaworski’s responsible for the defiantly down-market Wide Open bar on Spadina. T by T is what happens when high-end and low-rent collide.
As at any good sports bar worth its pork rinds, there’s a very good cheeseburger ($12), albeit one made with 6 ounces of corn-fed Kobe-style beef imported from the grand Nebraskan plains. Silverstein’s supplies the brioche bun, Black River of Prince Edward County the cheddar, and the recipe for the terrific ketchup comes from chef Wilkinson’s mom.
He also does a tasty steak frites ($19), here 8 grilled-to-order ounces of dry-aged Wellington County sirloin dressed with quick-pickled onions and sided with a heap of skinny bistro frites and more of that fab ketchup. At brunch, he throws in a sunny-side-up egg on the house.
From the bar menu, pub-grub chicken wings show up glazed with curried maple mustard, while the veggie of the moment – cauliflower! – gets the tempura treatment. A carpaccio of big-eye tuna artfully tossed with crisply fried shallots, fresh coriander leaves and squiggles of shoyu mayo could be Susur Lee five years ago. And while we admire the concept, deep-fried foie gras tastes like liquid liver lollipops, especially paired with Concord grape jelly (all $11).
The Tavern’s personal-size tourtière ($13) in puff pastry mixes ground bison with the more traditional pork, the lot scented with cinnamon and finished with a tangle of pickled beet threads and a dollop of chipotle-apple butter. Side it with a wilted romaine salad in champagne vinaigrette tossed with garden peas, fresh mint and feta ($10) for the perfect one-two punch. Or go retro with a cream of tomato soup ($5) worthy of the Campbell Kids.
Can’t decide between an old-school blueberry crumble topped with baked apple and cheddar cheese and a deep-fried Snickers bar plated alongside a scoop of house-made bourbon-caramel ice cream ($9 each) for dessert? Have ’em both!
Weekend brunch calls for classic frisée salads in sherry vinaigrette layered with pink-centred slices of duck breast, pork-belly lardons and a pair of deep-fried runny eggs crusted in panko crumbs ($15). And where else will you find a Benny piled with poached lobster, double-smoked bacon and yesterday’s kale, its time-honoured hollandaise replaced with a brilliant tarragon Béarnaise ($16)?
Only a so-called hash thick with cubes of corned beef swimming in Russian dressing ($12) fails to live up to its name. Call it a mashed potato pancake studded with smoked brisket and sided with roasted corn relish and sauerkraut, no problemo.
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