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The Crest Gastropub

Posted by Liora Ipsum / Profiled on April 26, 2013 / review policy

Crest Gastropub TorontoThe Crest quietly opened a couple months ago in Hillcrest Village from a team of childhood friends that grew up in the neighbourhood. Despite the slick exterior, it's a casual pub, looking to appeal to families looking for a quick but decent bite to eat and local sports fans looking for a game day destination.

Crest GastropubThe space has been stripped to expose the original brick walls and given a cosmetic facelift that employs a dark colour palette, warm wood accents and plenty of eclectic adornments. Inside, two parallel dining rooms are connected by the bar in the back and multiple big screens adorn every wall (there are are five TVs in the ladies room alone).

Crest GastropubI meet part-owner Vito Tomasicchio, whose resume boasts numerous Toronto establishments (KiWe Kitchen and Maison Mercer) as well as involvement with the raucous festival circuit (Digital Dreams, BPM). This new effort is decidedly more tame.

The Crest GastropubThe menu is full of familiar pub grub, starting with complimentary baskets of popcorn gussied up with truffle oil. The kitchen is helmed by chef Casey Cruickshank who turns out predictable staples with the goal of providing a little something for everyone. Atypical of most bar menus, special attention is paid to salads and lighter fare with selections like a Quinoa and Beet Salad ($10) or Pan Seared Fish ($20) featuring a Kolapore Springs rainbow trout garnished with warm grapes and glazed with a little melted butter.

Crest GastropubMore conventional are the barroom staples, intentionally selected for their game-day draw. There's Wings ($12) and the juicy Hillcrest Burger ($11), as well as Pork Back Ribs ($16, lead photo) that come painted with a thick, sweet sauce and a smattering of finely chopped fresh jalapeƱos for a little kick. The ribs are without the woody flavours that a smoker would have infused, but they're still quite good, nailing the moist, peel-off-the-bone texture via a slow braise before being finished on the grill.

Crest GastropubCovering all the bases, there are also a couple desserts, like the Crest Louis ($8), a moist red velvet cake layered with sweet cream cheese frosting and dripping with chocolate ganache. Not a bad finish, though my sweet tooth was already satisfied after the ribs.

Crest GastropubOn the bar menu, beers are divided by caps and taps, with Amsterdam Lager and Granville Island Pale Ale among the latter offerings. I opt for the house cocktail, and am impressed with the super refreshing Crest Lemonade ($9), a vodka based drink flavoured with cucumber and basil.

Crest GastropubIn the front, a street-side patio accommodates 15 or so, but outback there's room for at least 35 more. Locals can also take advantage of a new Sunday brunch menu that puts a twist on classics with offerings like buttermilk pancakes topped with jalapeƱo butter with Cracker Jack crumble or a pulled pork benny on a homemade biscuit.

Crest GastropubPhotos by Jesse Milns



Ryan / April 26, 2013 at 01:23 pm
Where are all the side dishes? The plates are all missing them.
Scott / April 26, 2013 at 01:29 pm
I went a few months ago and the food was terrible and the service even worse. This spot is in my hood and I had high hopes, but The Crest did not deliver. It'll be closed within 6 months.
Welshgrrl replying to a comment from Scott / April 26, 2013 at 02:42 pm
That's too bad, as the spot is in my hood also and I was interested in checking it out - it looked like a nice alternative to *shudder* Legends
danielle replying to a comment from Scott / April 26, 2013 at 03:44 pm
Figured as much. "Slick" does not read as a positive thing in my books. When oh when will this neighbourhood get its sh*t together and produce a solid local?!
Holly / April 26, 2013 at 04:17 pm
There is a solid local, it's called "Dave's"
Holly / April 26, 2013 at 04:18 pm
Love trying new places in the neighbourhood, will stop by and try it out. Better to always get your own opinion!
Matt / April 26, 2013 at 04:50 pm
Tons of SOLIDS on the strip and Crest will join when people bash a new place and try to kill a vibe. Scott , try not to be such a Debbie downer. it's awesome to have another spot with a patio this sumer!
fred / April 26, 2013 at 04:52 pm
sorry, hate to judge a book by its cover - but these pix make the food look disgusting. how do these places even open???
DW / April 26, 2013 at 11:44 pm
RIBS!!!! I LOVE RIBS!!!!!!!
MrSingh / April 26, 2013 at 11:54 pm
How can you bash this place without even going there?? Me and two buddies walked past this place a couple weeks ago and were impressed by the clean exterior. Fast forward 1.5 hours and we passed by again and see someone outside the front doors making some minor repairs. We stop and ask about the place and it turns out we're speaking with the owner. Even though they aren't open for a couple more hours, the owner graciously invites us in and gives us a tour!! Fast forward another week - me and another buddy (I have a few!) stop in for some grub after a TFC game. Let me tell you, the poutine, buttered wings, mac and cheese and burger were all great! The chef even sent out a complimentary order
of guacamole and chips since he recognized me from the impromptu tour a week earlier!
This place is great! Check it out before you bash it!
Sean / April 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm
Too bad they don't have a web page...
JC / April 29, 2013 at 09:39 am
Echoing another post, Dave's is my favourite pub in the neighbourhood. The food is by no means amazing but it has a good vibe.

And Legends has been fixed up. It's hard to tell as it looks the same from the outside... if I was them I'd update the sign as well. I've never been before the renovation but it's a decent enough place now for a pint and a burger now.
PG / April 29, 2013 at 03:20 pm
The Crest is a welcome addition to the Strip! We were recently there for dinner - the ribs are as 'delish' as they look above and the Crest Louis is divine. Really looking forward to trying their Brunch next month.

It is a complete waste of time comparing The Crest to Dave's and Legends as they are completely different! There should be something for everyone depending on their taste, mood and demographic.

All the very best to this new addition to St. Clair West!

p.s. I was a bit confused at first about the lack of side dishes on the menu but once the friendly waiter explained how to order the sides we were good to go! Also should mention many of the dishes are intended to be shared!
KJ / April 29, 2013 at 06:45 pm
Have been there three times, twice with kids. Service was really nice, staff enthusiastic, food good. It's gaining in neighbourhood buzz. They're hosting a local school's charity auction night... I think they're doing a lot right!
Matthew C / May 3, 2013 at 04:16 pm
I have been there twice and have to say that both times were great. I had a the New York Striplon the first time and it was extremely tender and very lightly seasoned that allowed me to actually taste the quality beef rather than smothering it with seasonings like most other places. Second time, I had the burger and it was cooked perfectly and also very tasty. The truffle fries are a great side to try as the truffle oil is not overpowering but gives just enough flavour to make them different than any fries I've ever had.

Service was great as the owner Vito was there greeting people both nights. The beer list is the only thing that can be improved but still enough to choose from for any type of beer lover.

Welcome to the neighbourhood!
Amber / May 31, 2013 at 06:55 am

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