|Special: Spicy Squid.|
What? Grand Electric
Where? 1330 Queen St W (???)
Price? $3.5-$14 (tacos-“more”)
The skinny: Opened just a couple of months ago in late November, Grand Electric has quickly gained a following for their Mexican fare and extensive alcohol list (including drafts, bottles, bourbon and wine). Then of course there’s the roots: two Ex-Black Hoofers, chef Colin Tooke and foh manager Ian McGrenaghan. Yep, this discrete restaurant isn’t going anywhere. ;D
As soon as Grand Electric opened, there was a flurry of talk about it—everyone mentioned how despite the pressure from the Black Hoof connection, their high expectations were met. Here’s a photo of the restaurant (yep, that’s it in its entirety! All 20-ish seats or so of it!) and the bar.
Many of my food adventures (especially the best ones) have been with my friend Darian. We’re both always up for anything. So Grand Electric here we come! And then we were told about the 2 ½ hour-long wait. Really?! Well, ok. So we walked back to his car, grabbed his laptop and parked at the nearby Starbucks.
|(this photo is from after we finished our meal so that explains the absence of a throng of people outside)|
Yep, we sipped coffee, caught up, and watched Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover until we received the call. We caught up on the Montreal and NYC episodes. They were so good and really set us up for dinner! haha This, is how you wait for a seat at a super busy restaurant. :D
|Say "yes!" to chalkboard menus!|
Seated at the bar, we got a nice view the cocktail/drinks action along with the chance to interact with people there. This whole eating-at-the-bar thing is really growing on me! My dinner at Woodlot was also bar-side and that was so much fun!! (sitting bar-side at Guu would also give your meal that special touch)
P.S. some restaurants even reserve seats at the bar for walk-ins! (aka Enoteca Sociale).
To start, Darian got the Corne du diable from Dieu du Ciel (microbrewery/brewpub, 8.5). Now I’m no beer connoisseur, so all I can say about this beer is that from the couple of sips I had, it was enjoyable!
More alcoholic options available. The chalkboard-style menu is a common thread between Grand Electric and The Black Hoof. I really like these kinds of menus! Mainly because it means there is usually some sort of variance from day/week-week, and it’s small—aka easy to navigate.
Food time! We started off with the Guacamole + Chips (8). Fresh in your face guac and salsa. The tostada chips are relatively thick so you get this really satisfying crunch. YES!
Is that apple topping the guac? Yeah. Little added texture, bonus!
Tuna Ceviche (7.5)
Where do I begin with this one?! I’ve never had tuna ceviche before. To share, we cracked the tortilla shell into two and divvied up the pieces of tuna. After taking our first bites, I swear there was a moment where we just looked at each other and knew, this was something special. This is some really good stuff.
The tuna is so fresh. The sauce, along with a squeeze of lime and the shallot ring “chips” (that’s what they are right?) just made the fish sing.
If we weren’t full by the end of our meal we would’ve ordered more. I’d wait 2 hours again just for this. Is that too extra? Well, I only speak for myself in this instance. :)
|See? It splits nicely! :D|
Spicy Squid (9)
This was the special of the day. Stoked!! The texture of the squid rings was very pleasant. Nicely chewy but not too much. Neither of us expected it to be piled so high so that was also a really good surprise!
Had the sauce that coats the squid been a little spicier, it would be perfect (for me). There was some pockets of heat from the sliced jalapenos but instead of the kicks, I was looking for more of a continuous heat. :D
The tacos are $3.5 each. We thought about getting them all at once then restrained ourselves to just the pork belly and beef cheek. As soon as they came, we knew we had to get another full order of the two tacos. Sharing wasn’t quite an option since they were served atop soft tortillas.
Pork Belly Al Pastor Taco (3.5)
Pineapple with spicy pork belly? That’s something new. It really works! The sweet compliments the heat and gives the denseness of the pork some lightness(?) Not as revelatory as the tuna ceviche but it’s definitely still up there.
Somewhere during the meal, Darian ordered a second beer—this time the Red Racer IPA (8). India pale ales tend to have more hops (the flower used in the beer brewing process to flavour and stabilize). Check out the head on that! Chilled & fresh beer = amazing accompaniment to food.
Beef Cheek Taco (3.5)
Same idea as the pork belly taco, the flavor you hold in between your fingers is unbelievably abundant. It’s juicy, moist, and you just want more. Squeezed with a few drops of the hot sauce, perfect. I’m sitting in one of my campus’ computer labs drooling as I relive that moment. Embarrassing.
Whie we waited for the second round of tacos to come, we continued snacking on our guac+chips until we reached these: (they’re the long “sticks” standing atop the guac)
Turns out they’re chicharróns; made from fried pork rinds. Also called pork cracklings I believe? Ouf they are good! So puffy and light, the spiced salty mixture that’s been sprinkled on is like the icing on a cake.
Key Lime Vaso (5)
Served in a small mason jar (reminds me of the tiramisu in France!), this mini version of a key lime pie was the perfect way to cap our meal. We were close to leaving w/o getting dessert so I’m really glad that we did in the end.
You’ve got the tangy key lime filling that’s contrasted by the fluffy meringue. And then the crumble that’s reminiscent of the regular graham crust you’d find in some pies, provides some great texture contrast. So in short, you get: tart + creamy + fluffy + bite = very happy carmen.
Verdict: For me, I found that Grand Electric is similar to The Black Hoof, in the sense that the food is exactly what you want but you don’t really realize that until you take a bite. The tuna ceviche was hands down our favourite of the night. That’s not to downplay the other food from Grand Electric that were pretty much bang on as well. Also, the low-pricing makes this place so affordable! No excuses not to come! ;)
The graffiti looked really neat so I decided to snap a pic and to share it with you guys. YAY! :D
Check ‘em out! (on Twitter) https://twitter.com/#!/grandelectricTO
5 out of 5 NOMs