There’s a new kid on the patio block called Against the Grain Tavern in the hot, hot East Bayfront area of Toronto at Jarvis and Queen’s Quay. Against the Grain’s patio faces south, with an unobstructed view of Toronto Harbour and Ward’s Island, and this feature alone will ensure its success. The patio is behind the state-of-the-art Corus Quay building and offers seating at tables or come-hither sectional couches. Unlike several downtown patios, there is no outside bar cluttered with patrons, which results in a very relaxed dining environment.
A friend and I dropped by after work on a Thursday (preceding a long weekend) and were pleased to secure one of the aforementioned comfy couches. It took about ten minutes before someone came by to take our drinks order, but cocktails arrived soon after. My friend deemed her Cosmopolitan expertly prepared and after paying $4.50 and upwards for mineral water at other downtown Toronto bars, I was pleased that my sparkling water ($2.50) came with a free litre refill.
Against the Grain’s dinner menu is balanced yet contemporary with appetizers such as poutine, pulled pork tacos and tempura veggies, and entrees including stone-baked pizza, bacon-wrapped tenderloin salad and duck confit. My friend ordered the feature special, a smoked Gouda and ale-braised burger ($13) with sweet potato fries ($2), while I ordered the curried salmon ($18). Our food was delivered promptly by the cheerful and accommodating wait staff, but regular fries had been substituted for sweet potato fries. A heads-up to the wait staff resulted in the requested fries arriving within a few minutes. Cutlery was also missing and had to be requested. While the curried salmon could have benefited from a bit more chili spice, its partnership with chick peas, red onion, spinach and fennel provided a wonderful blend of textures and tastes. The smoked Gouda burger was satisfying while the crispy and light sweet potato fries were some of the best in the city. A latte was ordered to top off the night, but the requested sugar arrived only in time to enjoy the last mouthful.
Admittedly, the little kinks with wait staff timing were forgiveable when weighed against the enjoyment of an evening by Lake Ontario on this pristine patio.
Against the Grain Tavern, 25 Dockside Drive (at Corus Quay), 647-344-1562