≡ Menu

It’s big – and cozy YOU, our dining critics

Against The Grain, the big restaurant on Laird, IS big. It seats 500.

But it didn’t feel like a cavernous food mess hall to Ella Maggay, of Millwood Rd.

Think of a nice, cozy bonfire.

This is how she sees that.

“The décor,” she said, “has been described by online reviewers as industrial chic, modern rustic, urban chic. Personally, I would call it functional.”

“Overall the place is fairly simple and unadorned, but what gives it its ‘chic’ allure is precisely the fact that simple is in. Natural light blends in seamlessly with the indoor lighting which has been set low to create a warm, bonfire feel.

Left to right, Ella Maggay, Rhea Viegas and Elaine Snider.  We give $100 to help pay for a meal for three at any restaurant in our area, the M4G postal code, which includes Leaside, Bennington Heights and the Leaside Business Park (known also as the industrial area).

Left to right, Ella Maggay, Rhea Viegas and Elaine Snider.
We give $100 to help pay for a meal for three at any restaurant in our area, the M4G postal code, which includes Leaside, Bennington Heights and the Leaside Business Park (known also as the industrial area).

“The fir wood furniture and spaciousness of the restaurant unassumingly replicate the experience of being in the outdoors.”

But, she said, “Don’t be fooled though. The décor is one thing… this restaurant is not for vegan types who live off seeds and kale. They offer the heartier stuff we all secretly salivate over when nobody is watching: burgers, fries, steak, and pork ribs.”

As it turned out, she didn’t order one of those for her main dish. She got spaghetti carbonara because she had been craving a good carbonara all week. She said it was “savoury, with just the right amount of cream and lemon. The bacon was flavourful, but did not take over the texture and taste of the spaghetti.”

But that doesn’t mean she entirely resisted the artery-cloggers.

On what was a new menu she found an appetizer of beef tartare that came with wonton chips. However she was “a little disappointed” with a mayonnaise that overpowered the raw beef so that it “lacked some kick (and lemon)”.

Before we get to dessert, lets see what the others ate.

Elaine Snider, of Southlea: “While some of the favourites remain (on the menu)… I chose the Mezze appetizer platter which offered different tastes of feta cheese dip, edamame hummus, olive tapenade and olive mix served with heated fresh naan flatbread garnished with a delicate herb.

“For my main course I chose a classic: steak frites served with hand-cut fries, sautéed onions and a demi-glaze. The NY striploin was top-notch, cooked to my liking, tender, juicy and delicious. The sautéed onions and hand-cut fries were crisp and tasty.”

Rhea Viegas, of Leacrest: “I ordered the fish tacos as my appetizer. The mango pineapple salsa was heavenly and the spicy mayo was the perfect touch. I couldn’t resist ordering the savory turkey burger with bacon jam and crispy onions. I relished the local, fresh arugula, the delicious brie, which made all the difference.”

So to dessert.

Maggay: “I ordered house-baked cookies with Collingwood whiskey chocolate ice cream. The cookies, even though warm, were still a little hard to eat with the fork, so the server had to bring me a steak knife to cut it. I’m not particularly fond of sweets, but I was delighted with the ice cream which was light and not too sweet.”

Snider: “My dessert was a treat: seasonal fresh berries served with a lovely warm crumble topping.”

Viegas: “Taking the classic brownie to the next level, I treated myself to the Black Forest brownie cake.”

“Everything about this dining experience was enjoyable,” Snider summed up, “including the excellent service.”

All three said it was a pleasant and positive experience meeting each other and sharing a meal together. And each said they would be back.

Next post:

Previous post: