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Restaurants

The Huntsman Tavern

Posted by Jen Hunter / Profiled on October 4, 2013 / review policy

The Huntsman Tavern TorontoThe Huntsman Tavern has opened at 890 College St. (between Ossington and Dovercourt), in a space that has not had much luck in the past (Mitzi's, Red Fish). Given our first impressions, one can hope that is all about to change. Owners Nick Savage (Redlight) and Saeed Mohamed (BQM Burgers) have done a excellent job taking a spartan room and filling it with curios and neat design touches. The lamps above the bar, made from vintage crystal decanters, are a particularly nice addition.

Huntsman TavernThe menu, designed by chef Mike Tan (Oddseoul, The Saint), has done an amazing job of combining soul food with French and British comfort fare, with some added finesse. The short cocktail menu is just as interesting, designed and run by veteran bartender extraordinaire Aja Sax (The Emerson, County General).

Huntsman TavernWe started our visit with a drink from the cocktail menu. The Scotchy Scotch Scotch (they have quite a few drams on hand) was a blend of Ballantines and Bowmore 12 year scotch whiskies, with maple syrup and Coster's RX blackstrap ginger bitters ($14). Essentially it's a scotch old-fashioned served up, with some nice smokiness from the Bowmore. I can imagine myself looking forward to this kind of thing on a cold and dreary evening as the fall becomes winter. Also on offer are a range of beers on tap and a short but varied wine list.

Huntsman TavernThe Crispy Wings ($8) are three whole wings, smoked and fried in the housemade bbq-chimichurri sauce, and served with a side of 'Sri-ranch-a' sauce. The wings fall off the bone and have a sweet and herbaceous quality. When dipped into the Sri-ranch-a it adds a touch of heat and creaminess, which rendered them difficult to share.

Huntsman TavernThe smoked trout cakes ($10) are served on a pea blini and topped with creme fraiche and a touch of balsamic reduction. All the flavours complement each other very nicely and the trout was moist and tasty. Given the hefty fare elsewhere on the menu, it was a refreshing break to have something that didn't fill us up so much. If you're going to order across the menu, it's worth bearing this in mind.

Given the city's obsession with Korean Fried Chicken lately (no bad thing in itself), I was happy to see something a bit more traditional in the Two Piece Fried Chicken ($16, lead photo). Both the thigh and leg are slow-cooked sous vide, before being fried in a buttermilk batter and accompanied by a house made cheddar topped biscuit, sausage gravy, and a cabbage, green apple and dill slaw. The slaw is absolutely fantastic, and I was dismayed to see that it's not offered as a side (at least on the menu, anyway).

Huntsman TavernWe finished up with the Tourtiere hand pies ($12). Not seen on menus in the city enough (in my opinion), the Tourtiere is the Mack Daddy of meat pies. These smaller versions are with made with pork and wild boar and wrapped in a beautifully flaky tallow crust, and a side of cranberry relish.

Huntsman TavernThe Hunstman is open for lunch Mon-Fri 11-3pm and for dinner from 5-11pm with a snack menu in between from 3-5pm. They also serve brunch on weekends from 10:30am - 3:00pm which will be run by former Hadley's owner Eric Hadley, and they'll also be doing late night snacks from 11pm-12am Thursday through Saturday (when they will be serving booze until 2). They even do family-style carved roasts, with all the accompaniments for those who fancy booking 3 days in advance.

Huntsman TavernAlthough they have a decent-sized patio, I'm really looking forward to coming back here as the weather cools down. It's a cozy spot, and the food is hearty. It's hard to imagine them suffering the same struggles as previous tenants, and hopefully, should be able to fill the massive brunch void that Hadley's left in the neighbourhood.

Huntsman TavernPhotos by Jesse Milns

Discussion

22 Comments

Me / October 4, 2013 at 03:19 pm
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The first and third photos honestly look like something you'd see in the middle of a path in the woods.
Me / October 4, 2013 at 03:19 pm
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Er, 4rth photo, not third.....heh.
Hastings P. Archibald replying to a comment from Me / October 4, 2013 at 03:36 pm
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I'm not entirely sure what you expect fried chicken to look like...
Me replying to a comment from Hastings P. Archibald / October 4, 2013 at 05:59 pm
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Not petrified shit, that's for sure.
Wowsers / October 5, 2013 at 12:46 am
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THREE whole wings?? No way?!

Also, I think the chicken in the wings falls off the bones....not the "wings fall off the bone".

:-)
Really? replying to a comment from Wowsers / October 5, 2013 at 02:27 pm
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I believe whole wing means that the wingette is not separated from the drummette, which is what you get in most restaurants. So it is really like getting 6 in total.
Andrea / October 7, 2013 at 08:59 am
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Ate there last night. It was fantastic.
ex-torontonian / October 9, 2013 at 10:57 pm
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"The wings fall off the bone and have a sweet and herbaceous quality. When dipped into the Sri-ranch-a it adds a touch of heat and creaminess, which rendered them difficult to share."

Who the fuck wrote this shit?

Get new writers, this kind of writing is reprehensible... anyone who has taken a high-school level rhetorics course would find this appalling.
Mark / October 24, 2013 at 11:47 am
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This place sucks. WAAAAAY overpriced for the value that you get and the food sucks. You've been warned.
Simon / October 25, 2013 at 09:01 am
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Been a couple of times. Ok but well overpriced. Burger not bad and a good deal on the "brunch" menu at $12. Then went back and new "lunch" menu added same burger now $16. Way overpriced.
Beer a rip off. $7.00 for a glass of average draft beer crememore. Fair enough but size of glass is very small far less than a pint, closer in size to a half pint. With the $12 burger was ok paying $7 for half a pint of average beer. $16 for same burger and $7 for the half pint way to much for what you are getting. "A fool and his money are easily parted". This is already a "cursed" location and with the rip off prices this place likely going to fall victim to the same fate as its former occupants....
Jug City / November 18, 2013 at 09:09 pm
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I think Simon has hit the nail on the head here.

2 drinks, some warm olives, and 2 bowls of stew. $76+ tip later and i feel like someone just put their hand in my pocket to take a little more than it was worth.

the meal wasnt bad bad. the stew was good, but it's essentially a braised short rib with 1 cut up baby carrot, a mushroom, and 3 leaves of kale. did it taste good? no doubt. was it worth $24? nope.

glad i went and tried it out, as now i've realized it isn't a place for those who want great food, but appreciate value.
Ernesto / November 21, 2013 at 08:18 am
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Very disappointed I was there on a Sunday and asked the waitress for eggs Benedict but scrambled and she said I'm sorry but the kitchen is not going to make it if u don't like poached eggs get something else instead. She made no effort to double check with the kitchen. Bad customer service I 'll never go back.
Lorraine replying to a comment from Ernesto / November 28, 2013 at 02:48 pm
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HAHAHAH of course they said no to scrambled eggs benedict. Who even orders that? That's something you should make at home... I don't know ANY kitchen, chef, or person who would serve that. I'd tell you to order something else, too.
chicheemaun replying to a comment from Ernesto / November 28, 2013 at 02:54 pm
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dude, this isn't Eggsmart.
Also - eggs benedict ISN'T eggs benedict when you make it with scrambled eggs. fact.
Fred Simpson / January 28, 2014 at 08:10 pm
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Not impressed, unfortunately.

The fried chicken was tender and tasty, but ultimately kind of greasy. The burger was tasty, as well. The fish and chips came with chips that were so salty as to be inedible ("Oh,I'll mention it to the chef," the waitress advised us), and both the fish and the fries had a hint of cooking oil turning rancid. Believe me, a hint is all that it takes to turn one off one's meal.

Ultimately, too heavy and greasy, a fact that became more evident as the whole mess settled in my stomach. Although there were some high points to the meal (burger, chicken), overall it was, as pointed out by several others, not worth the price.

An hour later, I'm still tasting that oil. Something was definitely off. aargh...
Emily / March 30, 2014 at 10:46 am
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I'm sorry, but in 2014 how can a restaurant not have a menu online? Fail.
Kaye / March 31, 2014 at 06:24 pm
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Went there last weekend for brunch - the pictures looked great, even when the food arrived they looked great. Unfortunately it wasn't as tasty as it looked.
I had the fried chicken waffle with whipped butter and maple syrup - they put so much maple syrup that my waffle was soggy, eating fried chicken in a puddle of sweet maple syrup with no other taste. Sweet Sweet Sweet OMG the fried chicken was tender though, that's about it.
The best fried chicken still goes to stockyards...
My boyfriend had the burger - nothing really memorable, patty was a little bit to salty to our taste, but the home fries were great

Finally, this brunch place serves big portion - but the taste is either too salty or too sweet Likely won't come back.
Bernice / April 3, 2014 at 02:42 pm
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Mediocre and overpriced. Douchebag hipsters abound!
Warren Pierce replying to a comment from Bernice / April 3, 2014 at 03:19 pm
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Sure don't see and douche-bagging hipsters in the photos. Are they hiding in the washrooms washing their bow ties from syrup stains?
John D / April 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm
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Decided to give this newer restaurant a try for brunch with my girlfriend. We decided to sit at the communal table towards the back. Our waiter informed us that if the place started filling up, he'd have to sit people at the table with us, which we were fine with.

As we were taking our coats off, and getting settled, my girlfriend sat next to me, and the waiter quickly returned, snapping at us that we weren't allowed to sit next to each other, and had to sit on opposite sides of the table. I could understand that if we were taking up the entire table, how this would be an issue, but we weren't, and were just sitting together at the end of the table.

The waiter's entitled, rude, and downright condescending attitude was enough for us, so we decided to pass on this place.

Being talked down to as if you're children, and being scolded for sitting the way you want to sit at a table, is unacceptable. Avoid this place until it goes under or changes management, as changeover tends to happen quickly at this spot.
Michael / April 28, 2014 at 06:33 pm
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I've been here for brunch several times and the eggs benedict are the best I've had in the city. A little pricey but totally worth. The servers have always been friendly. Awesome, awesome coffee.
Kloche / May 9, 2014 at 03:53 pm
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@John D Honestly, I was with you until you said that your girlfriend sat next to you at table that you were going to share with strangers.

Here is the thing. It makes sense for you and your girl (or someone you know) would sit facing each other. Because a stranger might not want to sit across from you. Going to restaurant means being able to have a meal and enjoy conversation, comfortably. Because you and your girlfriend wanted to be so close, to most likely play rub and tug under the table. Doesn't mean that you should force someone to stare at the two of you, while they are trying to eat. Or twist their neck to the see their own dining counterpart. You two clearly don't have enough brains to share, to get why the waiter and other people would have an issue with the seating.

That being said they shouldn't have made you share a table to begin with.

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