THE HOUSE ON PARLIAMENT (456 Parliament, at Carlton, 416-925-4074) Complete meals for $20 per person, including all taxes, tip and a $5 pint. Average main $10. Open dailiy 11:30 to 2 am. Licensed. Access: three steps at door. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
A local such as this is enough to make Parliament, or "P" Street as some call it, an enviable place to live. The atmosphere is so thoroughly amiable, we want to linger all afternoon rather than head back to the desolation of Bathurst.
The food goes way beyond average pub fare, and the wait staff actually seem to enjoy their jobs and their customers. It's not surprising that on a Saturday afternoon and Monday night, the two adjoining rooms are filled to capacity. A steak and Stilton sandwich ($10.95) on a fresh baguette arrives very rare, as requested, the tang of cheese perfect with the red meat. It's large enough to take half home for dinner, and we barely dent the giant mound of thin-cut fries.
Eggs Parliament ($8.95) puts the traditional Benedict to shame. Melted smoked mozzarella lies under a blanket of hollandaise, and two slices of pancetta lean against the perfectly poached eggs. With a bit of plum chutney added to the mix, the layers of flavours are incredibly complementary yet individually defined.
We're actually excited to return for dinner, since the steak pie with 14 varieties of wild mushrooms ($10.95) has already grabbed our attention. The individual pie arrives on a frisky angle, propped up by a mound of old-fashioned (no garlic) mashed potatoes. The pastry is flaky, the steak plentiful and the multitude of mushrooms add rich flavours to the gravy. A few slices of enormous carrots and broccoli fill out the plate.
The meat loaf ($10.95) is the only disappointment. Though perfectly fine, it lacks the creativity found in the other dishes. Two slices sit on more mashed spuds, and it's served with some of that excellent plum chutney.
A good selection of moderately priced wines are available by the glass, and a traditional prime rib dinner is served on Sundays.
The House doesn't need more customers, and if it were my local I'd want keep it to myself.