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Bar manager Josh Young serves up a pint of Junction Conductor’s Ale, one of many local brews on tap.
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Chef Adisa Brian Glasgow presents the butternut squash gnocchi.
3030 (3030 Dundas West, at High Park, 416-769-5736, 3030dundaswest.com) Complete tapas dinners for $35 per person (a la carte brunches $25), including tax, tip and a pint of local microbrew. Average tapas $5. Open for dinner Tuesday to Sunday 6 pm to midnight, bar 5 pm till close. Brunch Saturday and Sunday 10 am to 3 pm. Closed Monday, some holidays. No reservations. Licensed. Access: barrier-free. Patio. Rating: NNNNN
Smack dab in the super-hip Junction, 3030 takes its suds very seriously.
So much so that it has to update the floor-to-ceiling list of obscure local microbrews headed "craft draught" every day. That chalkboard dominates the front half of this cavernous former Bad Boy store. Can't decide between a pint of Flying Monkey Orange Mungus or Sawdust City Lone Pine IPA (both $7)? Have a sample on the house!
The board also advertises ex-Grand Electric chef Adisa Brian Glasgow's dinner specials, evocatively described mains like venison strip loin in juniper demi-glace ($27) and soba noodle carbonara with house-cured pancetta ($18). But tonight we'll make a meal of what Glasgow calls "$5 small plates."
"He says you've ordered too much food," says our server, returning from the kitchen after we've requested all 11 of them plus dessert. "He hopes you're hungry."
Peckish or not, we're dazzled by his chunky potato wedges deep-fried Pont Neuf-style and their accompanying smoky chili-pepper-infused mayo. You'll swear you're eating bacon parfait, though the dip's entirely vegetarian.
Now that almost everybody's doing tacos, could steamed Chinese buns be the next big thing? That's an affirmative if house-made bao stuffed with deep-fried daikon sticks or grilled King Cole duck confit in a sweet 'n' sour hoisin sauce are any indication.
The dressing on his masterful heirloom tomato salad also goes in two directions, one a traditional minty vinaigrette, the second a swirl of balsamic, blue cheese and red onion. A half-dozen or so butter chicken wings arrive frenched like lollipops in the manner of Vikram Vij's lamb chops, their nutty crushed cashew sauce offset by yogurty raita and a tangy mango chutney that borders on baba ghanouj. How does he do all this for 5 bucks?
"I work with a very patient staff," says the Vancouver-raised chef.
They'd need to be to dress chef's Sorauren Avenue Salad of organic market greens with a lemony chia seed vinaigrette, corn sprouts and nasturtiums, or to finish house-cured beef carpaccio with saffron aioli and deep-fried capers like some avant-garde canapés. And who else would dare pair nuggets of crispy popcorn chicken with Trinidadian peanut sauce?
Speaking of the Caribbean, a velvety zucchini soup laced with sage and creamy coconut milk would fit right in at a vegan Thanksgiving in the tropics, while slices of grilled baguette from the bakery down the block topped with sweetly sautéed chicken livers in a veal demi-glace are pure artistry on a plate.
But it's Glasgow's pigtail torta sandwich that steals the show, the pork marinated in Ethiopian berbere spices and slow-braised until it literally falls apart, the house-baked bun crisped to order and piled with chopped iceberg lettuce and pink pickled onion. It's 3030's most Electric-like dish. Somehow we've managed to save room for dessert, tonight a tasty berry bread pudding piggybacked with a scoop of small-batch vanilla ice cream from terrific Delight next door.
Just don't come expecting Scaramouche. The five-month-old room's the size of an aircraft hangar and more bar than resto, with live music most nights after 10. It's also got several vintage pinball machines, an art gallery and a conversation pit - all the makings of a very cool place.
Why, they even do a worthy weekend brunch. Don't descend on the joint all at once and ruin it.