Cider House on Roncesvalles has taken over where Indian restaurant Shala-Mar used to be. The previous beloved decades-old Indian mainstay isn’t gone completely, though: the butter chicken is on the menu.
Though the exterior may be imposing and they may have over 25 different ciders on offer and fourteen beer taps, the overall vibe is cozy, homey, and comforting.
The owners traveled all over looking for a barn they could take down to reclaim the wood, and finally found one in Elmville, Ontario. They cured all this wood and used it to create a chevron pattern on the walls throughout the bar.
A flight ($10 for four 5 oz. glasses) includes mostly offerings from local cidery Shiny, though the selection is diverse enough despite this: the Shiny ciders are a pear variety, a whiskey-infused cider and a pinot-noir-infused cider.
The non-Shiny cider is a dry, crisp Duxbury. This one might be your choice if you just want a clean, light cider. The infusions are worth trying if you’re into cider though they don’t hit you over the head with boozy wine or whiskey flavour.
We also try a bottled Clafeld Rose Hip wine cider ($7.50) from Picton, Ontario. It’s much sweeter than the previous ciders with a subtle rose flavour, and comes in at 8%.
As for food, we start with the clam chowder ($10), made with pearly bite-sized chunks of potato, fennel and fresh clams. It’s really creamy and the interplay between velvetiness and chunkiness works well against the sweet, chewy clam.
The butter chicken ($14) is obviously not to be missed. It’s served with basmati rice and naan, and the sauce is thick and mildly spicy.
Schnitzel ($18) is your choice of ribeye, pork, chicken or eggplant pressed into a whopping cutlet garnished with capers, a lemon slice and served with side salad and potatoes along with a generous miniature cauldron of chef Bennett’s gravy.
The burger ($15) is the piece du resistance here: it’s a local Ontario one hundred percent ground chuck patty, moist and juicy, on a ciabatta bun with cheddar, tarragon mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, and a seasonal topping of mustard seed beet relish. On this night, it was served to us with a kale, apple and kohlrabi salad.
Hanging caged light fixtures add funkiness and urbanity, and I love the seating. High chairs throughout mean seating is swappable between tables and the bar, and the bar and each table is wide enough that you can get a good conversation angle on each of your drinking companions.