Just because there are framed hockey jerseys on the wall and televisions over the bar and throughout the restaurant, do not think for a second that Meating at the Bottom Line Steakhouse Restaurant is a sports bar.
Yes, it is owned by an ex-NHL hockey player (Wayne Cowley, who retired from the league in 2001, but still plays 20 games a year), but this is a place to connect with friends and colleagues. It is a swank, spacious gathering space on Front Street, steps from the Sony Centre, the Hoc
key Hall of Fame, Air Canada Centre, and the Rogers Centre (formerly known as the SkyDome). This all means that you can see a show or catch a game, and get a really nice dinner either before or afterwards. Or come in for a drink, some apps and catch up with friends or watch an event on the big screen.
The large, bright space accommodates tables for two or the whole gang. The décor exudes a cool and funky vibe with its clear acrylic reindeer head on the putty grey walls, modern chandeliers, leather dining chairs, and lush private room. Casual upscale just got a little sexier.
And the food - wait until you see the food!
Wayne says, "Everything is fresh. We're not a 5-star restaurant but we buy from the same suppliers as those guys. We're an alternative, modern steakhouse, with wild boar, tame game-and kangaroo is always on the menu."
The menu was created by Executive Chefs Jomo T O'Reggio and Liam Kelly and features a 10 oz steak for $29, wings for $10.95 and pizza for $9.95 - not what you'd expect from a place like this, but just because it looks great, doesn't mean you'll be paying crazy steakhouse prices.
Wayne says the menu features "Clean dishes, but also a nice range of comfort foods." There are 3 specials every day and all are "100% chef's choice."
I start with the Avocado Sundae ($9.95), which arrives in a martini glass. It is filled with smooth, silky guacamole, diced tomato, jalapeño, green and red onions, cilantro and salt and pepper and comes with root chips that are thin, salty and crispy. It is a fantastic starter. I dare you not to finish it in just a few swipes.
Spicy Tuna Tartare ($10.95) is served on crispy rice with a soy dipping sauce. It is a combination of a chic rice cake and sushi with soft tuna, crispy bok choy and a luscious cayenne pepper and sesame oil dip. Bacon Wrapped Scallops ($13.95) are meaty and slightly browned, wrapped in hearty bacon, and is served with refreshing apple fennel slaw that includes pickled ginger and black sesame seeds.
Although I have had 3 starters, the experience has just begun.
The 8 oz. MEATing Burger ($17.95) arrives. Packing ground USDA and Canadian Kobe steak and served with homemade tomato, onion and gherkin relish, it is moist and hearty and everything you want a burger to be.
I am really curious about the Kangaroo ($34.95) as I've only ever seen it on one menu before this and it was a special.
It is grilled to order and you can choose your sauce ($3 each) - green peppercorn, tarragon aioli or red wine jus - and side. The complimentary ones include fries, onion rings, root chips, wild boar bacon Caesar, green salad or pan-fried greens and rice. Substitution sides ($3) are sweet potato and carrot crÃƒÂ¨me brulee, sautéed mushrooms, buttered fresh spinach, mac and cheese or poutine.
Kangaroo is similar to beef, as opposed to chicken, but is higher in protein and lower in fat. It is incredibly tender, but has a strong meaty taste that is pleasant and not at all gamey. In fact, it is fantastic and is a great change from the usual prime rib or filet mignon. If it were available on more menus, something tells me that you'd get right behind it like other en vogue meats such as ostrich, bison, and elk.
I set down my napkin, completely and utterly satisfied. Everything about my night here has been stellar. In fact, the ambiance and food are on par with any fine dining establishment that I've been to, and yet, it's fun and friendly and it costs half as much.
Guess who is coming back for the kangaroo and bringing all of her friends?