For our monthly gossip session, Fannypack and I visited The Ascot with a Groupon in hand. As we approached the restaurant we were impressed by the swanky hipster-looking storefront. However it did look out of place for its location, as it’s near Richards and W. Pender.
Stepping in the hipster-factor was confirmed. It definitely looked good and rustic with its huge brick-face wall and chandeliers. Vintage would be the theme I supposed. The night we visited happened to be a night where they had a paint class type of thing. We were not part of it but we saw the group of people all learning to paint the same picture.
We were trying to decide between the Halibut Ceviche ($8) or the Cold Smoked Duck ($10). Finally we picked the Halibut Ceviche since it’s supposed to be made fresh in-house everyday, and is therefore served in limited quantities.
Fannypack and I both decided that it was too tart and basically tasteless. To me the fish was mushy and we definitely needed the pita chips to cut down on the acidity. However towards the bottom of the glass it became less tart, so the sour start could be due to a squeeze of lemon or lime juice at the top. This was definitely not my favorite of the night. (Should’ve gotten the duck….)
Next, we wanted to get (The King’s) Spicy Mussel Bath ($10) however we were quickly told that that’s the only menu item that they’re out of that night. So we digressed and picked our second choice which was (The Notorious) Chorizo Squid Sautee ($9).
The menu says that it’s made with ‘confit garlic, preserved lemon and red pepper goat cheese mousse’. I see the red peppers, I don’t see any mousse. I only see sauce. In fact, if I didn’t read the menu again, I wouldn’t have know that there was supposed to be hints of lemon or goat cheese. The sauce just tasted creamy and I suppose a bit garlicky.
That said, this wasn’t bad. The squid tasted like squid, not that spongy tasteless calamari stuff a la Boston Pizza (I’m only making this comparison because Hitman and I were there recently for a UFC fight and that’s one of the items we ordered). And there were actually quite a bit of mashed chorizo pieces, albeit hard to pick up with a fork, that added a bit of a kick. My only other complaint is that this should perhaps be served with some bread or rice or quinoa or something…it was just kind of weird to eat it straight. We weren’t sure if it’s because this is supposed to be a tapas sort of place.
Our third dish was the (The Bold) Sassafras Beef Short Rib ($12) which we thought was the best deal and best pick of the night. There were two big, moist, succulent pieces of meat plus one tasty triangle of what I think is polenta. The polenta was crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and absorbed all the juice fantastically.
The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender, and there was just one little piece of bone, otherwise it was all meat. Not much more I can say about this except we really enjoyed it. We also compared the value of this short-rib dish with the one from The Oakwood (big price, small portion of dry, chewy meat.)
Overall this wasn’t a terrible meal and the company and conversation plus the Groupon made it worthwhile. Would I go back? Well it wouldn’t be in the near future as I just wasn’t wow-ed enough. Maybe for drinks, as the decor really look artsy-fartsy.
On a sidenote…notice how the same microgreens were used in all three dishes?? Maybe a variety would make things more interesting.