Revel Food is Toronto's hottest new pop-up restaurant
Revel Food is reminding us that pop-ups are supposed to be parties. Unlike other “parties,” pop-ups and takeovers saturated with hashtags, ceremony, and disparate activities and events bringing in too many vendors, ideas and concepts, Revel Food events function more like old school salons.
Dave Le and Katie Bradley of Mr. Flamingo and Cote de Boeuf, where the event I attended took place, put together nights of (what else) revelry at fun local establishments that incorporate their Southeast Asian feasts and different forms of entertainment.
For a $60 ticket reserved through email for one of two seatings of less than twenty, guests were entitled to a three-course meal accompanied by three sets by professional opera singer Cassandra Warner for this event entitled “Opera and Fried Rice.”
The pair started out doing pop-ups under the name Dinner Dinner a couple years ago. Revel Food began at the Beaver where they did a la carte cooking off their patio, followed by the queer bar’s legendary Sunday night karaoke.
They don’t want to stick to one format necessarily, and this event was their first time doing a set menu with set entertainment. Eventually, they hope to open a brick and mortar, somewhere boisterous and loud in the Revel spirit, doing small plates.
The feature cocktail was called “Thuy’s Fizz” ($12) a refreshing and almost too downable gin-based concoction with yuzu, cucumber syrup and soda.
Our first course was a salad of crisp fans of daikon speared through to a juicy cube of pomelo on a swipe of creamy avocado puree, topped with chilis, crispy shallots, wonderfully awakening mint and basil and a lemongrass dressing.
The following course was the namesake fried rice, but topped with unexpectedly lusciously fatty slabs of gochujang glazed pork belly. This was garnished with crunchy lotus root chips and sweet tropical charred pineapple, served with their own delicious, tangy hot sauce. A couple vegetarians were served the rice topped with a fried egg.
The final course was a beignet with a Vietnamese coffee ice cream, sponge toffee, smoked condensed milk and powdered sugar. This may have been one slight stumble: my beignet was relatively chewy, not airy, even moreso combined with the hard toffee, and I didn’t taste smoke. The coffee ice cream was great though, creamy and familiar.
Since Revel isn’t lucrative enough to pay rent on a physical space yet, right now their pop-up system works on a trade-off between food and bar sales with restaurants. Woodhouse has pitched in by offering restaurants a few cases of beer for free if they buy more to furnish the event. At $7 a can, it’s just another example of Revel's symbiosis.
I couldn’t believe how well-timed, engaging and organized the entire pop-up was from start to finish in the nascence of such a new project, and I can’t wait to see how well other events and a future brick-and-mortar restaurant might go.
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