TREVOR (38 Wellington East, at Church, 416-941-9410) Complete meals at the bar for $35 per person, including all taxes, tip and a glass of wine. Average main $15. Open Tuesday to Saturday 4 pm till close. Closed Sunday, Monday. Licensed. Access: 13 steps at door, washrooms on same floor. Rating: NNNN Rating: NNNN
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Cheap chicken wings, noxious nachos and frozen fries: pub grub is often hard to swallow, let alone stomach. But Trevor Wilkinson, owner/ chef of the eponymous basement bistro that's recently been winning raves for its creative contemporary card, ups the ante with an abbreviated bar menu that surpasses almost any other in town.
Trevor, his subterranean supper club, is located in the same underground room that once housed the lamentable Bouchon. Since then, it's been recast as a modernist dining room with an adjacent candlelit lounge, all exposed rock foundations and a dented low-slung wooden beam at the bottom of the stairs that people have been hitting their heads on since the War of 1812.
Commandeering bar stools, we three are soon fighting over a quartet of cracker-crisp house-baked tacos stuffed with textbook steak tartare ($9) kicked with cognac, Tabasco and Sriracha. A tasty trio of mini Kobe burgers ($21) come dressed with truffled garlic mayo, arugula and grilled hedgehogs, recommendable but far pricier than Rosebud's remarkable take on the beer-fed beef. And that's without frites ($6).
But you'll never settle for Sneaky Dee's again after a plentiful plate of Wilkinson's nachos ($16). Instead of nuked Cheez Whiz and a can of refried beans, his homemade corn chips come beautifully layered with crumbled chèvre, aged Ontario cheddar, coriander leaf, slivers of pickled Thai bird chili and scallion plus tender cubed beef cheeks. On the side: wedges of ripe plum tomato, tequila-laced sour cream and super-citrusy guac. What, no foie gras?
And try not filling up on the complimentary bowls of Wilkinson's deliciously addictive roasted almonds laced with smoked paprika. You'll swear you're eating Southern barbecued ribs. Next visit, I'm packing Tupperware.