Rose and Sons
Rose and Sons opened its doors a mere two weeks ago, taking over the People's Foods space that served as an Annex staple for decades. And though it's still in the incubation stage, judging by the line-up out the door for a Tuesday lunch, it's safe to assume that place is off to a solid start. Perhaps that's because of the familiarity within the kitchen. Chef Chris Sanderson and co-owner Anthony Rose (with Robert Wilder) share more than just a pedigree for delicious comfort food, but also an ex-employer, both having come from the Drake Hotel.
After a successful pop-up at the Junction Flea Market earlier this summer, Rose and Sons have been carefully assembling their crack team of line cooks and chefs to offer Toronto something that bears resemblance to a Jewish deli, but with a bit more polish when it comes to presentation. We queued up in the pouring rain and were treated with diner after diner exiting the restaurant with a smile on his face, and offering the same sentiment: "it's worth the wait." And indeed it was.
With a scant number of seats and a small counter, it's easy to see why waiting is required. Leaving much of the room with the same layout as its former occupant, cozy booths contrast against the black and white subway tiles while new leather bar stools and a smooth wooden counter bar offer a quasi-chef's table. With a new liquor licence having just been approved, classic cocktails like Mimosas and Caesars comingle with a small selection of wine and beer.
Having sampled Rose's magnificent BLT at the Junction pop-up, sandwiches were an obvious choice for my lunch visit, as was the mighty matzah ball soup ($9). Rose stopped by our table to enquire how we were enjoying the soup, a dilly concoction infused with duck fat and anchored by a giant succulent wad of coarsely chopped matzah. I'm rarely treated to this traditional soup, which Rose informed me was not entirely his Grandmother's recipe (crushed matzah vs. crumbled, chicken fat vs. duck fat). Strands of chicken complement the earthy broth, and the ball itself is tender and holds together well, clearly made with knowledgeable hands.
We were even more impressed by the perfectly un-kosher, bacon-topped club sandwich($13), which features smokey turkey meat, creamy bands of brie cheese, tangy pickles, a smear of herb mayo all piled on thick fluffy bread. The generous side of fries were incredible; crispy, crunchy, salty...my only miss is that I forgot to order gravy.
Chicken souvlaki ($12), a throwback to the restaurant's original owners (it was pretty good at People's) is a deconstructed version of the popular diner mainstay. A freshly prepared flatbread, pressed and lightly oiled is then cooked on the flat top grill resulting in a warm, chewy yet crusty loaf. Garnished with a lemon, the shards of chicken come together nicely with chick peas and chunks of cucumber, and I loved the unexpected addition of pickled red onion and diced salty pickles. A dollop of smooth tzatziki completes the dish.
Saving room for the lone dessert, spied on the breakfast portion of the menu, the humble Bread Pudding ($8) is finished off with wild blueberry compote. Gooey and rich without being sickly sweet, it's just a small does of "decadence."
Rose and Sons captures keeps up the diner tradition, but gives everything that added bit of care that elevates the food. Only in business two weeks, this place already has regulars and each customer is greeted with warmth and enthusiasm. Look out for a good dose of public shaming in the unlikely event that you don't finish everything on your plate!
While Rose and Sons was currently only open for breakfast-lunch during my visit, I'm eager to see what the dinner menu holds, which will kick off tomorrow night.