Queen and Beaver on Elm Street is a cut above the usual English pub chains found in Toronto, in terms of its authentically British menu, decor, and even the china on which the meal is served. It is a perfect fit for the recently coined concept of the British gastropub - a pub that serves higher end restaurant food.
Unique starters on its pub menu include pressed quail and goose liver with spiced prune jam, grilled ox tongue and mushrooms, potted duck and pontack-sage chutney. Pheasant, Venison and Welsh lamb are examples of main courses, which range from $23-31. Sides include fondant roots, neeps and tatties and dripping chips. This is not the typical Fox and Fiddle fare.
You can also order from the less expensive but still quite expansive bar menu. Here you find the standards more traditionally found in North American pubs, such as fish and chips served with homemade ketchup and shepherd's pie with peas. But you could get more adventurous and order rabbit and potato pie, lamb curry with chutney, or braised steak with prunes, to name a few.
I went for an amazing dish called the Wild Mushroom Pithivier, which was like a flaky slice of pie that contained layers of scalloped potato and savoury mushrooms. This came with a side salad and was both unique and delicious. For appetizers, we shared crispy rabbit from the bites section for $9, and a scotch egg from the snacks section for a mere $6. The rabbit came in large battered chunks of moist, tender meat covered in a sweet, fruity oxford sauce and accompanied by a side dipping sauce. The scotch egg had a nicely gooey centre, with flavourful pork filling.
Oxley House. The menu was similar in theme although not all the same choices were available. We were impressed by the interior decor, which made you feel like you were visiting a stately manor and the beautiful garden patio. Alas, there was no fun bathroom fixture this time (I made Rich go and check!)
The Grove also also focuses on English cuisine. It is a restaurant, not a gastropub, and has a small menu that offers a choice of 4 mains which change regularly. When we went, fish served with fresh green vegetables and no starch was heavily featured. This made for a nice healthy main course that was good, but nothing special. What did stand out was the soup made of parsnip, bacon, snails and fried bread. I could have eaten several bowls of this and called it a meal. Also unique was the presentation of the dessert, which was like a deconstructed lemon meringue pudding, served in a mismatched teacup and saucer.
Queen & Beaver
35 Elm St.
121 Yorkville Ave.