What? Hogtown Pub & Oyster
Where? 633 College St W (506 streetcar west from College or Queen’s Park station)
Price? $10-$35 (they’ve got $1.5 oyster special!)
The skinny: The offerings are all in the name, Hogtown Pub & Oyster. At this gastropub, expect a good selection of beers on tap and good noshing to be had. Oh yes, and OYSTERS galore of course.
Owner Darryl Brown played host to the opening event for “VIPs and Media” while Chef Josh Dalton was in charge of the bites that were going around for the night. Long story short, Hogtown Pub & Oyster (@HogtownPub) used to be called “The Auld Spot Pub on College” and was a sister pub to the original location on The Danforth. Stuff went down and this was the product! :D No hard feelings, just a revamp!
I didn’t get a photo of the taps but believe me, they’ve got a good (and sufficiently unique) selection of beers! Oh hey there Shirley and Brian from The Urban Craze! Chatting up the bartender I see! ;) haha
|Can you spot the fat piggy?! ;)|
The one beer I tried was the Apricot Wheat Ale from St. Ambroise. The apricot flavour is very apparent. I enjoy lighter beers so this definitely appealed to that side. And it being slightly fruity? Great!
An ode to the original location on The Danforth of The Auld Spot! Next to it, a cute chalkboard. #HogtownGO was a much-abused hash tag that evening. ^_^
P.S. Please note that this was their grand opening so you can’t quite judge it based on this night alone. This post is more about how an event such as this plays out. ;D Enjoy!!
Let the noshing begin!
Chick Pea Falafel - crispy and creamy chickpea falafel on cucumber with ranch and hot sauce.
A nice bite. Very easy to handle. The falafel was nice and crispy but nothing spectacular.
Pulled Pork Dumpling – pulled pork in crispy wonton w/ caramelized onion, 5 yr-old cheddar, BBQ dip
The dumplings didn’t necessitate any sauce at all. They were yummy crispy and very moist. Not sure how this fits into gastropub fare but it’s easy to pop into your mouth so that's reason enough for me! :D
Caesar Salad Soup Shot – Ontario arugula and romaine puree w garlic crouton
Spectacular concept! The colour is so vibrant too! Too bad it was so bitter. Arugula overload?
Thai Scotch Egg – w/ sesame sauce gribiche
Pretty cool stuff here. Nice twist on the traditional scotch egg. I enjoyed it but wished that the Thai influence was more apparent.
Of course not to be missed, the crispy crust! Almost wished that the yolk was runnier…Yes I know that detracts from the facilitation and practically of eating it, but still! Who doesn’t love it when the yolk oozes out?!
Salmon on Chips – beet-cured salmon with crispy caper goat cheese and potato chip
This was a hit with everyone. Who doesn’t love the salty crunch of a potato chip?! Perfect delivery system for the bright flavours atop. Good stuff. Since there were so many people there, I didn’t get seconds let alone try everything offered. But this, I had probably 2 or 3 (shh, don’t judge. They were good!!) and could’ve had more if socially acceptable.
Chicken & Cheese – fried and smoked chicken, and blue mac & cheese with buffalo sauce
Another brilliant idea here to turn the universally known mac & cheese into fingerfood with the always loved, deep-frying application! Very promising giant tidbit of food.
Which turned out to be an unfinished thought. :( It was a bit dry and bland; plus, I couldn't find any chicken in there. All easily fixable so I’m sure they’re great now. I’d be willing to have these again. I mean, c’mon, mac & cheese cubes?! Brilliant.
Chipotle Heart Taco – cast iron-seared marinated beef heart with roasted red pepper and poblano salsa, and garlic cream
The taco. Along with the bao, pork belly, and pulled pork, it’s the current trend sweeping across Toronto restaurants. Nice flavour balance here. More please? :D
These were supposed to be the first fresh oysters I’ve ever had (Patrick, @ShuckerPaddy from The Ceili Cottage beat them to it just the night before!). Nonetheless, very excited to try them because every oyster is different! I believe there were 3 varieties circling around that evening.
Of course, it being only my second time, I couldn’t discern the differences but let me just tell you what I told my friends, “it’s like the ocean in your mouth!!” The freshness kinda slaps you in the face and you like. You want more. (or at least I did!)
Hogtown Cobb Cold Roll – crisp lettuce in a rice paper roll w/ smoked BBQ chicken and pork loin, egg, cucumber, Ontario tomatoes, Swiss cheese, and ranch.
Again, great idea. Very fresh and nice textual interplay. I’d say a little lacking in seasoning….or bang in your mouth if you will? It didn’t hit you hard in the flavour department.
Artwork kept from before. Ahh such a cute fat piggy!!!! :D The event was really successful in the sense that there were A LOT of people who came out to support Darryl. Being in the cozy space of the pub with everyone however, so hot.
Got to hangout with some fellow food bloggers so that was great. Also, awesome meeting Viviana (@foodies_inc), Shirley (@swirls123), Anna (@KowalskiAnna) and Steffi (@steffimindorff)! Finally met the lovely Yvonne (@th3hungrycat) in person. Looking forward to future events with everyone!
|Near the beginning of the event. The crowd came a bit after this.|
Verdict: Chef Dalton definitely has the creativity portion down, making gastropub fare interesting again. In his words, he believes food “should be fresh, flavourful, and not too complicated.” The Hogtown Pub & Oyster definitely have something good going on, and once operation runs smoothly (which I’m sure it already is), they’ll quickly gain regulars! I want me some more of that Apricot wheat ale!! Thanks Darryl!
P.S. There was more food but I didn’t get around to trying it.
Check 'em out! http://www.facebook.com/HogtownPub