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This bar on Bloor West in Bloordale/Brockton Village is named after the 47 Landsdowne bus. While the drinks menu is impressive, the tapas-y food menu includes intriguing fare such as Dandelion, Cuttlefish, Fishcakes and Chickpea Crepes filled with Lamb or Eggplant.

Review: The 411 on The Four Seven

By Alan A. Vernon, reviewed on February 19, 2015

Dark, little unadorned holes-in-the-wall are what bar-hopping hipsters have come to expect along Queen West, which now extends as far as Dufferin. But what is unusual is a hole-in-the-wall that takes its bar grub very, very seriously.

That's exactly the case...

Dark, little unadorned holes-in-the-wall are what bar-hopping hipsters have come to expect along Queen West, which now extends as far as Dufferin. But what is unusual is a hole-in-the-wall that takes its bar grub very, very seriously.

That's exactly the case at The Four Seven, with a kitchen that must be at least twice as big as the shoebox of a space, and a vibe that harkens back to a time when black really was the new black. Don't for one minute think that The Four Seven will inspire any design mag shoots because there is little here to impress in the form of decor. Jet black walls, hideous art, you get the picture. Even cocktails ($12) and tap beers are pretty par. So why bother dropping by The Four Seven? Cuz the menu might just be more clever and inspired than many fussy, full-on restaurants. And the service is practically white glove when I was expecting attitude the thickness of gouache.

What captivates about the menu, divided into cold or room temp, fryer, grill and pan, is the immensely affordable, mostly Eastern European-inspired dishes. A pan roasted cauliflower ($5) may not be as impressive as Fat Pasha's, but at this price, there's a lot going on for your money, including a lovely sweet smokiness and a lively dressing of olive oil, parsley, garlic, hot pepper, anchovy and capers. Yes, cauliflower is the new kale.

Even two items out of the fryer intrigue, though sadly aren’t as exciting. Kashkaval pane ($6), a breaded and fried semi-soft cheese, really amounts to little else than any other pub's mozzarella sticks, even with a tantalizing Bulgarian spread made from eggplant, tomato and peppers. When hot, the cheese is runny and hard to control; let it rest for five minutes and it behaves itself though it is practically flavourless and too dependant on the sauce to complete it. And their perfectly rectangular shape makes them look like they came right out of the frozen food aisle at Costco.

Fishcakes (two for $6) are another ubiquitously boring item on most menus nowadays. Often the biggest problem with them is that there is too much potato filling to even taste the fish. In this case, I could barely tell there was even a hint of tuna in the mix. Though beautifully crispy from adept deep frying, I'd still pass on them until the kitchen ups the seafood ante.

By far, the grill section of the carte offers the best options. A socca (a chickpea flour crepe from Nice) comes in both meat ($9) and meatless ($8) versions; the combination of lamb, tahini, parsley, red onion and chili sounds like just an upgraded shawarma. And though the lamb in a bit too fatty, I am fascinated by the expertly made pancake. With a larger crepe and a better cut of meat, they may be onto something here. But the best thing on the menu is a cevapi ($9) a speciality of the Balkans that is basically one honkin' meatball with a blend of pork, lamb, beef, kashkaval and ham, and the same Bulgarian spread mentioned above. This time it bursts with flavour and really helps to absorb the elevated alcohol content from a bottle of Trappist monk beer.

From the pan side, the selections, though well thought out, need some minor tweaking. Like a ricotta gnocchi ($11) with lamb, tomato and mint. Each piece is just too big and gloopy. But dammit, why does it have to be so delicious? Same for the chickpeas ($8) with cuttlefish and pancetta. The smokiness of the beans alone makes this dish a contender. And I admire the use of cuttlefish, which is rarely seen in these here parts. Alas, it is a bit on the tough side; slicing into smaller pieces ought to do the trick.

Clearly, chef Daniel Usher has a flair for finer, sophisticated food concepts. And I applaud him for trying to achieve epicurean quality in a place that really just looks like a neighbourhood dive. To be very frank, I think the room isn't deserving of the type of food chef is trying to achieve, but then again it's almost refreshing to see a restaurant so unadorned and unpretentious for a change. Owners Andrew Usher (Tequila Bookworm) and Jeff Caires make it a point to ensure that The Four Seven delivers a fun casual vibe with food that though far from perfect still has plenty of integrity. Kudos.

Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
All meals are paid for, including all taxes and gratuities. All reservations are made under assumed names. Menu items, prices and individuals mentioned in this review may not be up to date. Dine.TO encourages its users to share their feedback.

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