Let's start with the good stuff. If you're a beer drinker and like to tilt a fine pint of Belgian wheat, German lager or Irish ale back, Fionn's on Front offers a great place to do just that. The motherland's most famous are front and centre-Guinness, Kilkenny, Harp and Smithwick's-and will set you back just under $8 a pint. Erdinger, a delicious white beer, or what the Germans refer to as weissbier, is the most unusual tap item and has a wonderfully smooth and slightly fruity taste. And it's se
rved in a tall, bulbous glass which shows off its champagne-like bubbles.
With 14 draft choices in all, including homegrown champs like Creemore Springs and Keith's IPA ($7), not to mention our American neighbours attempt at brewing with the offer of Bud and Coors Light (just over $6)-Fionns really does offer a beer for every palate.
If you're more inclined to sip cocktails than order a flight of beers from around the world, here's hoping you get a deft bartender. Otherwise, lower your expectations.
Like most chain restaurants trends play an ample role in menu design and the drink list at Fionns is no different, with the inclusion of a couple mojito options and a twist on Brazil's national drink, the caipirinha (pronounced kype-eer-een-ah) (both about $9)-a traditionally boozy libation made with raw sugar, lime and cachaca (sugarcane liquor with a taste somewhere between rum and tequila).
A great mojito should be fragrant with fresh mint and have a distinct rum flavour. What mine had was a layer of undissolved demerara sugar on the bottom and a sweet-and-sour taste.
Much better was the Strawberry Espresso Frappe, and after-dinner martini made with Fruili (strawberry beer from Belgium), espresso-infused vodka and a splash of cherry brandy-an unusual combination and an unexpected flavour.
This inspired drink won't appeal to everyone and that's okay-something else on the menu will. That is the mantra of the corporate resto. Fionn's on Front is now the sixth link in the MacCool's chain and even with its paired-down menu it still offers a ton of choice with standard pub fare, like fish and chips ($10/$13.50) and shepherd's pie ($8/$10) as well as a few signature items.
The best and most sinful? Blarney chips ($10). Fionn's answer to nachos and a helluva hot-seller. Here's why: thick and crispy waffle-cut potatoes smothered with deliciously trashy cheese sauce and then sprinkled with chopped tomatoes, green onions and minced jalapeÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â±os, all served with herbed sour cream and salsa. It's really just Fries Supreme pimped out, but damn they're tasty.
FIVE STARS: (Extraordinary) A one-of-a-kind, world-class experience.
FOUR STARS: (Excellent) Superior. Memorable, high-quality menus and/or savvy service.
THREE STARS: (Good) Solid places that beckon with generally appealing cooking.
TWO STAR: (Fair) Just OK. A place not worth rushing back to. But, it might have something worth recommending.
ONE STAR: (Poor) Below-average restaurant.
*Reviews are meant to describe a dining out experience at a given period in time and are the personal opinion of the writer.
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