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The Westerly

Posted by Anna Rose Kowalski / Reviewed on February 28, 2012 / review policy

The WesterlyThe Westerly is the newest hot spot on Roncesvalles. Since opening in December it has generated a lot of buzz so I stopped by last week eager to get a handle on all the hype.

The atmosphere at The Westerly feels relaxed, just like the neighbourhood itself. It's like I'm visiting my best friend's place for dinner. Patrons range from 20-30 something locals to elderly gems coming in to check out the new kid on the block.

The WesterlyI strike up a conversation with a man behind the bar who turns out to be co-owner Tom Earl. Tom is a friendly man with a generous attitude — prior to his current gig he was involved with the previous tenant (and social enterprise The River) which staffed its restaurant with at-risk youths. Tom has carried on this practice when hiring his current staff.

The WesterlyA dinner isn't a dinner without a wobbly pop by its side. Hitting my lips tonight: The Westerly Spritz ($9). At first it is far too bitter but like any great romance with time I couldn't get enough. Made up of aperol, cassis, cava, soda and orange squeeze the cocktail packs a punch that leaves me seeing stars.

Appetizers: smoked trout on potato latke ($12) and arancini bolognese ($9).

The WesterlyThe trout is a smidgen dry, the latkes are the perfect balance of crispy and moist, the dill crème fraiche proves to be a polish girl's dream, and the frisee...well it's frisee. Together these individual ingredients come together for a winning game of Connect Four.

The WesterlyArancini bolognese - holy rice balls, Batman! This starter screams main. Some people shy away from balls but while dining at The Westerly they aren't the ones to dodge. The Arborio rice and goats cheese pull me to a place where my taste buds had never been before. A creamy, warm, smutty place where I can gain a hundred pounds without a care in the world. Au revoir skinny jeans.

Mains: Braised Short Ribs ($22) and Pan Seared Arctic Char ($22).

The WesterlyArriving in an unappealing chunk the ribs don't catch my hungry eyes. However, once I put a forkful into my mouth I discover meat so tender that I could bathe in it. Found below the delectable meat was a bed of horseradish mashed potatoes that completely blow my mind. Who ever said there's no need to reinvent the wheel obviously hadn't tried these short ribs; The Westerly manages to take Joe Schmo meat 'n' potatoes to the next level.

As a big fish fan I am like a kid on Christmas morning waiting for the pan seared arctic char to arrive (see lead photo). Unwrapping the fresh water gift I'm slightly disappointed. Like any child would I cringe at the sight of peas on my plate. By omitting these tiny green devils I would have enjoyed this dish more. The char didn't blow me out of the water but left me floating leisurely while I am able to take in the surrounding scenery.

Dessert: Banana Bread Pudding ($7)

The WesterlyThis dessert is the work of Lucifer himself; a sinful treat that I will covet from now until the day I die. Baked to perfection with a soft chewy texture the pudding is topped with coconut créme anglais and blueberries.

Leaving The Westerly I have a full and happy stomach; this is a place that welcomes anyone with an appetite who yearns for a good meal.

The Westerly



DCinTO / December 20, 2011 at 07:52 pm
That's where River used to be, not Brad's. Brad's is a ways down the strip yet. Anyway, I went into Westerly over the weekend and it was great food at a really good price point (think Ossington type places minus $5 a main). Great restaurant and a very welcome addition to Roncy! Next time check it out and give it a real review.
Daniel Bissada / December 23, 2011 at 01:28 pm
Correction: The restaurant use to be River not Brad's.

Like to try it though.
Lavender / January 6, 2012 at 11:42 am
Had a fantastic meal there last night - the Arancini Bolognese and Israeli Couscous in particular stood out. The service was attentive but not pushy and it was packed - which I doubt will change! A huge improvement on the previous occupants (River restaurant) and a welcome addition to the strip.
RZA_T / January 16, 2012 at 08:59 pm
This place was fantastic. Everything from the service to food to decor was exceptional. Keep up the great work guys! Will be back soon. And YES you should have a 20% option on the debit machine, you guys are definitely worth it!
April / February 13, 2012 at 02:10 pm
My friend and I planned a surprise birthday party for my boyfriend and her husband (best friends) this past Saturday evening. We used The Westerly's back private room, and had 24 guests for a family style dinner. I cannot tell you how absolutely INCREDIBLE the owners and staff of The Westerly were!! They made the planning and organizing so easy. They were so accomodating, and I can't think of any restaurant in the city that would have cared that much. The food was delicious, the service was fantastic, and there were absolutely no screw-ups. I am just so thankful to them for making the night such a success!! I cannot wait to go back.
Logan / February 28, 2012 at 09:05 am
If they can't fix their sign, god knows what else is broken and neglected.
Welshgrrl replying to a comment from Logan / February 28, 2012 at 09:28 am
There's always one ...

Anyway, food looks delicious (and reasonably priced)! Will have to check it out some time.
MrPotato / February 28, 2012 at 09:28 am
"Some people shy away from balls but while dining at The Westerly they aren't the ones to dodge"

Nice one...
Steph / February 28, 2012 at 09:39 am
This place has a great vibe!
Kelly Schnurr / February 28, 2012 at 09:55 am
Great review Anna! I look forward to more.
My favorite review moment... "The Arborio rice and goats cheese pull me to a place where my taste buds had never been before. A creamy, warm, smutty place where I can gain a hundred pounds without a care in the world. Au revoir skinny jeans." Naturally!
Little Fury / February 28, 2012 at 10:03 am
Food here is OK, but the ubiquity of baby bok choy and beets as the sides is really weird.
themrmaui / February 28, 2012 at 11:01 am
the writing is as delicious as the food seems to be
Sara replying to a comment from Logan / February 28, 2012 at 11:10 am
Really? You jumped on that? A broken sign, when they have accomplished so much already in the short period of time they have been open?

As a small business owner, you do the best you can to keep a lot of things in the air - especially in your first few months. For all you know, they have called to have it repaired and the company hasn't come by. Or, it is on the list of "nice to have", not "need to have", seeing as it isn't crucial to the day to day operations. At my own shop. it was almost four months before we had our permanent sign installed. Partially due to being busy, but also waiting for the production and installation. We were still turning out excellent work and providing the best customer service possible. Whether or not our sign was up yet, was not indicative of the product or service our customers received.

If having a broken sign is enough reason for you not to go to a restaurant, and to accuse them of poor quality, I suggest you walk a mile in their shoes and see how hard it is to run your own restaurant.

In regards to The Westerly itself - the staff and owners are incredible. Good quality food, always with a smile. They easily adapt to special requests and have been nothing but the best of hosts. I am excited to see them part of the new Roncy and wish them the best of luck.
Linsay / February 28, 2012 at 12:34 pm
only a fool would tip 20% ... basically you are helping the owner pay the staff's salaries
Logan replying to a comment from Sara / February 28, 2012 at 12:44 pm
As a small business owner, surely you understand the need to properly and clearly market your business to customers as it's the first thing that they see about you! Do you think that any successful company out there cuts corners on their image? Would you drink your Steigl at The Rake Hotel?

Sara replying to a comment from Logan / February 28, 2012 at 01:04 pm
The "GOOF" in the Beaches made their reputation off a broken sign. It became a landmark because of it. Two sides to every story.

(and, there was a point when the Drake's sign was broken, took them a month to fix it - just sayin')
linda / February 28, 2012 at 05:08 pm
Planning to visit The Westerly and call me a fool but I'm happy to show my appreciation for good food and service when I get it. Definitely tip 20% if it's good and definetely not if it's not.
MommaKenzie / February 28, 2012 at 05:36 pm
Photos of the place/food are amazing ... have been enticed to check it out!
pusher / February 28, 2012 at 08:23 pm
thanks for gunning on this. it sounds like a great get.
chrissie earl clancy replying to a comment from Lavender / February 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm
Thanks for the lovely comment...My baby brother Tom Earl is a co-owner there and I know he tries his hardest to please the people...he really does love his food...;)
Alea / February 29, 2012 at 07:13 pm
Only a jerk would call anyone a fool to tip 20%.

The writing style of this review brought up the phrase "trying way too hard"

Now for the positive. The Westerly is a great restaurant. Not only was the food delicious but the atmosphere and staff were fun and friendly! I've been there thrice, and not just because I live around the corner.. though that helps..
20/0 replying to a comment from Linsay / February 29, 2012 at 10:41 pm
Actually that not how it works, if a restaurant does take a cut which most do they take it from total sales. Any more you leave goes to the server.

Ex. Bill = 100.00

House Tip out: 5 %of Sales

You Leave 15

Server Gets 10+ anything you leave on top
Spenctastic / March 1, 2012 at 11:37 am
Definitely need to try out this place. My mouth is watering from these dish descriptions. Holy rice balls I am booking a reso.
EJNB / March 1, 2012 at 11:53 am
How can you say that braised short rib doesn't looks good? You're a crazy lady! I'd have taken that short rib out back and made sweet love to it!
James / March 1, 2012 at 12:07 pm
Gunna check this new place out - Nice wee write up there dollymixtures. Love the Ronce - Use to frequent the Boho Restaurant, believe that is gone now.
Jason / March 5, 2012 at 10:04 am
Amazing went last night 4/3/12 food was so good I had the Lamb sausage Hubby had the Steak frites both just kept going on about how good it was...and the butter lettuce entree...I didn't know lettuce could taste so only complaint was I couldn't finish dessert =) can't wait to go back.
Barbara M / March 5, 2012 at 06:47 pm
Have eaten at The Westerly several times since it's opened, both brunch and dinner and am always thrilled with the excellent food and wonderful service.
rick / March 12, 2012 at 10:45 am
This is what qualifies for a review these days??? Pedestrian writing and totally agree with the other comment about "trying to hard"
Sarah / April 5, 2012 at 11:50 pm
Our server was so cute and quick with the service. I also found it really dark and extremely loud in there (everyone seemed least I was) I had the lettuce with garlic lemon sauce with Parmesan which was good except it was drenched with the dressing. I was really starting to enjoy it! I had the chicken supreme which was SOOOOOO good. It was stuffed with juicy pulled pork and the couscous was so creamy, the vegetables were perfect too! I wish there were more Brussels sprouts on the plate. Overall great atmosphere other than the really loud people, excellent food, excellent service. I would go back for sure.
Melanie replying to a comment from Linsay / April 10, 2012 at 10:58 am
You're right, tipping 20% (which is now the standard for good service, more for great) is helping the owner pay the servers' salaries because that's how it works in North America. Pretty common knowledge that restaurant staff get paid shit and depend largely on tips to at least make a decent wage. The only person you're self-righteously punishing by not tipping well is not the owner, but the person who runs around at your beck and call, and probably has to put up with your crappy attitude towards their already crappy situation.
If you don't know, now you know. If you don't like it, feel free not to patronize restaurants, they probably won't miss you.
Mike / May 20, 2012 at 11:38 am
The food here is excellent. I've been twice and every dish has been great.

However, the acoustics are awful--when the place is full you cannot hear your dining partner without yelling. Each person I've taken has commented on it.

And, though the chef clearly knows what s/he's doing, the bartender does not. The drinks are terrible. Who puts egg white in a Gimlet!? Ugh. And they've got the Corpse Reviver and the Corpse Reviver #2 mixed up. I know it seems like nitpicking, but they are vastly different drinks (Brandy vs. Gin). I asked for a traditional Gimlet after trying their fiasco and the 'keep didn't know what it was--even after I provided the recipe he messed it up.

And yes, I know that every establishment tries to offer up a twist to classic martinis. However, the point is to then rename them. If I order a Martini and get a Cranberry Martini because "that's how we like to do it", I send it back. You want to ruin a Gimlet by throwing in egg white, take a few minutes to name it. May I suggest "Lime's Undoing"?

I'll definitely be back, but I'll be drinking water.
Sadie / June 7, 2012 at 10:18 pm
The writer of this review successfully made my mouth water, and I've already had dinner. I definitely want to try out The Westerly and take my taste buds to a place they've never been before, thanks to this write-up!

Holy rice balls.
Jeremy / July 28, 2012 at 04:57 pm
Went there for brunch today and there was no 20% prompt when paying with credit card. Perhaps they have done away with that. Anyway, the food was amazing. The creme brule French Toast was to die for (and the service was excellent.)
Joel / September 22, 2012 at 01:50 pm
Just went here recently and was very impressed. There was a mixup with the reservation but the owner comped our appetizer, which was a classy move. The food was exceptional - gnocchi, bbq chicken, and lamb sausage all were great. It can get a bit noisy but it's a nice intimate interior. All in all, a great dinner out.
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Mel / November 8, 2013 at 10:41 pm
Am currently sitting at The Waverly having just eaten the most delish meal I've consumed in TO in a long time. Great food, great service, try the chicken and tip your waitress.
Mel / November 8, 2013 at 11:06 pm
AutoCorrection: The Westerly
Sarah / April 18, 2014 at 04:42 pm
Gosh I love this place! I went on late fall for brunch with a friend and it was the best brunch I've had in the city.

Firstly the menu is very vegetarian friendly (without stifling meat eaters) and I felt spoilt for choice when it came to deciding my meal.

Eventually I settled for the Lemon Ricotta Fritters. They were delicious. Beautifully presented and a wonderful combination of delicate flavours. They simply blew me away.

The service was pretty good from what I remember and the decor had a touch of class and elegance that most restaurants in the city opt out of, instead choosing to favour the rather overdone diner look that calls for little effort at a cheap cost.

And best of all, despite being such a great meal, it was actually about the same price you'd pay anywhere else. I was quite surprised by this...but hey, I'm not complaining!
Kevin / October 26, 2014 at 11:43 pm
Their beef short rib hash is the best brunch food I've ever had.

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