http://www.elephantcastle.com/ 416.598.4455 $$ open daily lunch & dinner
Walking inside this touristy-king west spot I’m welcomed by bubbly servers and loud, lively conversation. Moving to our booth located in the bar area, looks to be the best spot in the part British-medieval, part sports-bar-pub. It’s very cute inside, wood trims the English cottage decor reaching even to the farthest corners of the surprisingly large interior. Servers are swift and unfiltered – I like it that way.
It seems we have a “hit & miss” situation here at Elephant & Castle. I am unbelievably impressed with the paper thin, fried pickles – probably the best I’ve had in a while actually – the secret is the pickle-to-Panko crust ratio. But then, the extremely salty truffle parmesan potato crisps arrive, turning rubbery as they cool, sided with an astringent malt vinegar aioli thats tangy in a bad way.
Then I realize that everything I ordered was fried (so bad) and guilt ordered me a side mixed green salad. Surprised I am to find it is wonderful! Mostly romaine lettuce with a sprig of arugula, red onion, julienne carrots, cherry tomotes, lightly dressed in a creamy sweet vinegar, like it’s not even dressed at all. The kitchens Traditional Poutine topped with “fresh cheese curds” and “beef gravy” is a situation: some fries are fluffy, others are hard and dense. I hate to say this but the Fish n’ chips are another miss. Waterlogged haddock (evidence of prior freezing), beer battered to a golden crisp, shares the plate with those weird fries, terrible. And what is with the “hey, let’s add a copious amount of vinegar to the dips”? I mean come on, a dash ‘ill do ya…
Sigh. I really, really wanted to love the 10 oz steak and chips, “grilled to your liking”. Points for presentation. But looks are not enough – it’s whats on the inside that counts folks. Rightly seasoned, brushed with herb-infused garlic butter, my steak is mostly rare ( I ordered it blue but whatever) though, not cooked evenly. Peppercorn gravy doesn’t help the dry mash either.
Leaving on a good note (there is one), Elephant & Castle is a fun place to drink and relax in the Entertainment District. Don’t take it too seriously.