The 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.
I 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.
A 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 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.
Arancini 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).
Arriving 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)
This 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.