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Restaurants

Brockton General

Posted by Staff / Listed on June 14, 2011 / review policy

Brockton GeneralBrockton General is almost a year old now. Recognized as one of the best new restaurants to open in Toronto last year, it sprang from the ashes of Pablo, one of the ubiquitous Portuguese sports bars that dot this Dundas West neighborhood. In its short-life, the restaurant has garnered a reputation for its bold menu which changes daily and since they've recently installed a new chef (Alexandra Feswick from Earth) we decide to stop in to see how things were going.

Brockton GeneralThe mismatched china and chairs, accented by the roll of craft paper displaying the day's specials, plays into their flea market decor. A worn door doubles as a chalk board listing the assorted yummy Quebec and Ontario Cheeses ($16 a plate). Nonchalant and humorous, the service is refreshingly cordial - more akin to a Sunday supper at an old friend's house.

Brockton GeneralThe mainly local wine list consists of VQA plonk, so we decide to go for the hard stuff and wet our whistle with their cocktails. Bourbonade ($9), with house made thyme syrup, is refreshing as is the Red-Headed Stepdaughter ($10) - their playful version of the Manhattan.

Brockton GeneralThe potted animal lacks enough schmaltz to be spreadable. The main problem being the consistency which resembles that of canned tuna.

Brockton GeneralThe house made Maltagliati ($16), Italian for 'badly cut' noodles, with egg yolk and Toscano cheese could best be described as a deconstructed Carbonara. The chive flowers are a lovely choice and lend a blast of flavour, but I miss the robustness of pancetta and black pepper often found in the classic.

The seared duck breast with rhubarb compote and scallion pancakes ($20 - top photo) is the best dish of the evening -- the flavours of the duck and rhubarb complemented each other nicely. I only wish the duck was seared at a higher heat to develop a crackling crust.

Brockton GeneralAnother dish tried by our party is the seared pork loin with pea shoots over a plate of grits and grilled peppers ($18). The peppers are not properly scorched of their skins but the grits could've doubled as creamy polenta. Perhaps I'm reckless for liking my swine slightly pink but I found the loin overcooked and tough.

Brockton GeneralFor dessert, the cinnamon apple cake with maple cream ($7) is a slice of home. Not overly sweet, the dessert reminds me of Autumn even on a thirty degree day. We want more.

Most dishes explore subtle flavours but lack stamina to be memorable. There are a few missteps but that's to be expected for such a revolving menu. It's worth a shot for those feeling adventurous - just bring your wallet.

Brockton GeneralWriting by Ryan Spencer. Photos by Peter Henderson.

Discussion

22 Comments

Drink Guy! / December 9, 2010 at 01:48 pm
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Bring back the Bourbonade!
Abraham / January 7, 2011 at 12:41 am
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Excellent restaurant
Jon / January 7, 2011 at 06:07 pm
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It is worth noting that Chef Michael Tucker (formerly of Cowbell, Le Select and Nota Bene) has been added to the staff and has been working under Chef Rawlings for the last 4 or 5 months.

Amazing 7 course meal on New Years Eve; can't wait to get back there.
Char / June 14, 2011 at 01:31 pm
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I sure hope the food has gotten better from when a few of my friends and I tried to eat there one night. We too read about this "best new restaurant" and went to check it out. The menu that night was pate, pate and pate. Not even kidding. We were starving and looking for dinner - not pate and crackers. The waitress said it was a new concept with a revolving menu and we ended up across the street at Enoteca Sociale where we had a delicious dinner - an actual meal.
Ingrid / June 14, 2011 at 01:55 pm
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I'm curious what constitutes VQA "plonk." That's a rather derogative term to just bandy about, considering how stellar many VQA wines are. (And yes, there is plonk out there, just it's rare to find these days.)
Youppi / June 14, 2011 at 03:20 pm
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I generally enjoy Brockton General. One question, though, and I'm not trying to be annoying: I assume the name is a reference to Brockton Village. By any definition, either historic or current, Brockton's easternmost limit is Dufferin. So, it's strange and kinda confusing as to why Brockton was chosen for this location. Like if you had a store up at Roncey and Dundas and called it the Parkdale Private. Any insights?
Lori / June 14, 2011 at 03:21 pm
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1. I agree with Ingrid in that the term "plonk" should be backed up some and not just thrown out there. 2. You can't get much friendlier than this place never mind the lack of pretension. 3. I do wish that there were some veggie options more often because any time I've eaten there it's been amazing food but I can't eat there as often as I'd like because of veggie needs. Still look at their menu EVERY night from twitter though.
GL / June 14, 2011 at 10:09 pm
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Apart from the size of the grind, Grits & Polenta ARE the same thing.
GORF replying to a comment from Youppi / June 15, 2011 at 04:04 pm
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Brockton was a former villiage. The 'Brockton' villiage no longer exists. The entire Brockton Viilliage is now considered a part of 'Parkdale.' Parkdale is essentially King - Dundas from Dufferin to Roncessvailles. You can be on Roncey and still say you're in Parkdale. You're just on the edge of Parkdale/High Park... but still in Parkdale technically.
M / June 15, 2011 at 06:27 pm
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I'm going to weigh in on the VQA "plonk" statement too - are you sure it was all "plonky"? Because a restaurant that supports local wine production should be given a nod. In fact, I would make a point of complaining if I was in a Toronto restaurant that DIDN'T serve VQA. Support local, blogTO.
b / June 16, 2011 at 02:26 am
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Menu changing daily? Does that mean I missed my chance on that Maltagliati with Chive flowers?? *drools* If Alex is coming from Earth, I'm sure she knows a thing or two about local. This place looks adorable. I've got to check it out!
chris / July 11, 2011 at 02:19 pm
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found my meal over the weekend to be rather disappointing. My appetizer actually wasn’t that bad (bacon, poached egg and Sunflower leaves) however the main could use improvement. Overcooked pasta, three blobs of goat cheese and swiss chard. I have always admired minimalist menus and local eats, but when running a restaurant with such underpinnings it’s important not to come up as bland. Also, I though the portions should be reconsidered, they're quite small.
With that being said everything was definitely fresh, just lacking. The Staff was fantastic as was the atmosphere. Hopefully my experience was an isolated incident.
Paulo Senra / July 13, 2011 at 03:20 pm
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Going to the West end tonight. Might give Brockton General a try!
Neveah / October 31, 2011 at 04:52 am
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I told my grandmhteor how you helped. She said, “bake them a cake!”
Alanna / January 16, 2012 at 10:25 am
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I ate here this past weekend and had the sweet potato gnocchi. It was quite mediocre. Also, the size of the meal was VERY disappointing. It was $16 and There were literally about 6-8 tiny gnocchi. I think I ate it in under 3 minutes... I had to go and have another dinner afterwards.
jude / March 2, 2012 at 11:25 pm
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Brockton General.
1. Lackadaisical attitude towards service
2. Portion [meager]
3. Taste is there, sauces were stellar
5. Brockton general? More Like Brockton Recruit

I don’t normally write a review for restaurants I go to but the experience we had at BG were just flabbergasting I felt compelled. We left annoyed and generally displeased after the dinner.

My friend and I decided to order the prix fix menu, which was $28. (It came with 3 choices of appetizers, entrée, and a donut for dessert.) We also ordered bread and dip. We were given an amuse bouche to start with. Then came the waiting game that played well into the 2 hrs and 15 minutes that we spent there.

We waited for the apps for about 15 minutes; one of which was a chicken liver with jus [not sure w/ what kind of wine Madeira/port?] and two pieces of sliced croutons. We finished this and still, the bread and dip hasn’t arrived. Minutes passed and it finally arrived, you would expect it to be warm and fresh if it took that long! But no, it was bread from Thuet that probably came sometime in the morning or lunchtime. The dip lacked flavour and had the consistency of baby food.

We probably waited 30 minutes for the entrée (was it more?). You’re wondering why we haven’t left, well… we were hungry and we were there to support the local business. Plus, we work in the industry and are little more understanding of the whole kitchen affair.

All this time, one of the server/owners? were entertaining two tables of her friends that came in for the night. She seemed more concerned with chit chatting than providing quality service to all her customers. This to me signaled the lack of propriety and professionalism that this otherwise stellar place desperately needs.
At one point you can hear her banter back and forth over loudly from the bar to her friend that sat 10 ft away.

She even sh*t talks someone within earshot of everyone else. This is a relatively small place. There is a time and place for everything and entertaining friends should be reserved after hours. The people who’s patronage you should work to retain are the ones coming to check out your place, not your friends.

Alright, the entrées finally came, a friend ordered the bratwurst [w/ the knotted end still intact] that came with sauerkraut, braised shallots & celery root puree. The taste was great, the demi glaze amazing! Problem? Mush after mush, the dish lacked dimension. Should have added some greens in there to provide crunch.
Other entrée was the gnocchi. Ok, you get about 7-8 pcs of gnocchi. Talk about stingy on the portions. Good thing we had apps to start with. It was quite good but not enough to rave about. The sparse arugula leaves you find in there were wilted and had lost its crunch because it was probably sautéed last with the gnocchi. I suggest fresh arugula lightly dressed and put on the side.

Then we play some more eye tag with the servers for our plates taken away and desserts [3 pcs of donuts, 2 filled]. All the while, the owner is still having chitchats with the table across. The donuts finally came 15 minutes later. Is it too much to ask for fresh warm donuts?! Apparently it is. They were lukewarm and half-assed filled. It’s like hey, I don’t care. I’ll just put a smidgen of cream wherever that tiny hole filling is.

Another thing, the kitchen staff came out looking like slobs. I’m sorry but even the kitchen staff exhibited a lack of professionalism with their friends going in the kitchen. It wouldn’t kill to don a chef white [even the cheapest kind] and nice aprons either. You guys work in a restaurant, not a laid back coffee shop.

Overall, the taste was there, I agree with the other reviews that the food is very promising. But the service we had left a sour after taste in our mouth. I left feeling angered and disappointed, hence this lengthy review on the Brockton General.

Don’t come here expecting your hunger satiated if you’re not willing to shell out more than $65 [for two people]. You will have to order starters to fend of the hungry wolves in your stomach. Their entrée portions are meager. Our bill for two came to $75 with drinks. Tip? Very tempted not to have tipped [less than the expected]. But this was a restaurant that again, shows promise IF they get their sh*t together and work on their customer service. Happy hour ain’t every hour ladies and gents. Focus on your professionalism! Here's your constructive criticism for the day.

Not coming back here again. Thanks but no thanks.
Le Professeur / March 22, 2012 at 08:34 pm
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^^^^ @ Jude you have a lot to say for someone who doesn't normally doesn't write reviews. Neither do I so I will keep it short. I hope you went on an off night because the service has been great when I've been there. I go back for the changing menu and the laid-back service.
Sdyna replying to a comment from Le Professeur / April 26, 2012 at 12:13 am
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Great service.

Food, which is mainly what im paying for- mediocre at best. Or boring. Whatever. Over hyped hipster joint.
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Lawrence Raponi / January 25, 2014 at 05:11 pm
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Went to the Brockton General last night for dinner, and ate the smoked mussels, tomato soup, and the papardelle.

The server was polite, and knowledgeable.
Food was good to standard. Smoked mussels were great, everything else was good. Not amazing, but certainly not bad. Prices were also fair, in my opinion.

As a neighborhood resto, I'd dine there, but it's not the type of resto I'd commute to eat at.
Phil / March 6, 2014 at 05:24 pm
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Can anyone shed some light on why this great restaurant is closing?

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