FIRE ON THE EAST SIDE (6 Gloucester, at Yonge, 416-960-3473) Complete meals for $40 per person ($20 at lunch), including all taxes, tip and an glass of wine. Average main $16 ($10 at lunch). Open noon to 1 am Wednesday to Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10 am to midnight. Licensed. Access: two steps at door, washrooms in basement. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Located in what was once Fenton's Restaurant, Fire on the East Side bills itself as a neighbourhood restaurant and bar serving Southern-style fare and a 45-minute lunch.
Perhaps it was the Queer As Folk folks on location slowing things down, but a quick lunch is not what the place is about. A more appropriate tag might be The Big Easy Meets The Big Apple. It's a casual-chic, comfortable space with an industrial edge, well-priced cocktails and exceptionally friendly staff.
We're immediately presented with a bowl of garlicky red-pepper-and- rosemary hummus with black bean corn chips instead of bread. It's an excellent light snack to tide us over until the salad arrives. We're forewarned that Almond-Crusted Goat Cheese Salad ($10) is large enough for a main. A liberal mound of baked chèvre coated in a sun-dried tomato tapenade and encrusted with toasted almonds arrives on a bed of mixed greens with a splash of balsamic dressing. The mild chèvre dominates the dish.
Served on creamy seasoned mashed potatoes with roasted carrots, turnip and sweet red peppers, Louisiana Meatloaf ($12) comes wrapped in bacon and covered in a warm red-onion marmalade. A layer of cream cheese is an ingenious addition. Identified on the menu as the number-three dinner choice, the dish likely works better when fresh, and this afternoon the two slices of loaf are slightly dried out.
A good range of sandwiches run from $8 to $10, including grilled Jack cheese with guacamole and salsa, roasted vegetable and Cajun chicken, all served with a choice of salad or spiced fries. Smoked salmon ($10) accompanied by red onion and arugula comes on thick slices of slightly toasted dark rye, with both sides liberally spread with horseradish and dill cream cheese.