Location: Toronto, Canada
Address: 487 Adelaide Street West
Time of visit: Drinks and light eats on a Friday in November
SpiritHouse bar area (1)
Contrary to the typical financial district lounge where you’re standing around the bar like sardines and it takes half an hour to get a drink, SpiritHouse is refreshingly nice and unpretentious. A short walking distance from the core at Adelaide and Portland my friend and I were able to grab seats at the bar when arriving at 7:30. Sadly, the gentleman (possibly the manager) that was at the door was over optimistic and advised we’d be able to get a table “soon”. By the time we left at 10:30 we still did not get a table. But, we didn’t mind sitting at the bar and watching all the cocktails being made.
Their cocktail menu is extensive with throwbacks to the Mad Men era – bourbon, bitters and egg whites are abound! I now understand why they drank so much; something about a hand-made cocktail with fresh ingredients really does shine.
Our first drink was a Peroni Sour ($14) which was suggested by a friend. They only had enough Peroni left to make one of them, but we shared it anyways. The cocktail would be a great summer drink as it almost reminded me of having a spiked fresh squeezed lemonade.
We also had an Original Cosmopolitan (circa 1988) ($12) which is nothing like the sweet cranberry mixed version you’re normally served at restaurants. The sweet and tangy was well balanced to the point you couldn’t even taste the alcohol. Perhaps that’s the scariest part; they taste so good that you can have many without feeling like you’re drinking.
Now for the food … such a disappointment when the drinks and service are so good! Whoever runs the kitchen needs to be better with managing their stock. Considering the menu only consists of a dozen items, it’s pretty sad that they stock out of two key ingredients – duck confit and avocado. Come on, we’re not talking about black truffles here… it’s only duck and avocado, order a little extra and risk some food wastage costs!
Given fries are one of my favourite foods in life; we had to try the SpiritHouse poutine ($11). On the menu it’s described as being topped with duck confit; upon ordering the poutine we were advised the dish would be delayed anywhere from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours as the duck was being cooked. At 7:30 it’s inexcusable that the kitchen has already run out of an ingredient used on two menu items. Whoever was in charge of prepping would have Gordon Ramsey going crazy. We ended up having the poutine without the duck and it was satisfying but not much better than a New York Fries poutine.
The Whitefish tacos ($13) are definitely in need of revamping. The fish itself is non-existent and over battered and fried. Regrettably, it resembled a deep fried frozen fish stick to anything fresh. On that night, the chef chose to dress the tacos with radishes rather than the promised avocado on the menu. This was a horrible decision! Bitter radishes on a taco does not go well, can I suggest just using a tried and true coleslaw if avocados are not available? The chipotle dill sauce drizzled on the cabbage was good, it just needed more of it to mask the bitter radishes and tasteless fish.
Brad, the mixologist serving us, was keen enough to ask us about the food. Upon hearing the mediocre fanfare he provided us a complimentary order of donuts. Freshly fried timbits dusted with cinnamon & sugar, it arrived with a miniature bottle of caramel sauce. A great gesture, but once again over fried so nothing I’d order again.
Overall, what makes SpiritHouse shine is their pleasant employees and the amazing drinks. I would suggest staying away from the food - if you have to order something stick with the oysters.
Overall mark - 8* out of 10
* Mark is solely as a place to come for drinks and not for the food. I would definitely recommend SpiritHouse as somewhere to go for drinks before or after dinner.
Gastro World's Grading System
- Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
- 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
- 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
- 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
- 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
- 10 - absolute perfection!
- Food Pron - http://www.foodpr0n.com/2012/10/31/spirithouse/