Godspeed Brewery has transformed an old dollar store into a towering brewpub and bottle shop.
A menu of several straightforward beers is paired with a somewhat intriguing menu printed in two languages of Japanese izakaya-style sharing plates. Designed by Chef Ryusuke Yamanaka, the two go together extraordinarily well.
A unique open kitchen space is near the back of the restaurant near where the brewing equipment lies.
This makes it a little dimmer than bench spots outside or near windows, but when weather turns sour or cold these dynamic bar seats will be prized.
Chikuzenni ($9) is a plate of braised vegetables served cold to surprisingly good effect. Earthy burdock and lotus roots mingle with meaty bamboo, carrot, snap peas, deep fried tofu and yam cake.
A mushroom salad ($14) hides enoki, shiitake, king oyster and shimeji mushrooms fried in flavourful butter and soy under a mountain of arugula topped with shredded nori and wonton.
Karaage ($9.75) is simply Japanese fried chicken. This version is crunchy and juicy, served with a little slaw and lemon for pop.
Yaki onigiri ($9), or grilled rice balls, are not to be missed. The challenge is making them last. Red shiso leaf and salt are mixed with the rice to make the ball, and ground pork cooked with miso, soy and sugar tops off the balls, finished on the salamander for a nice crisp top.
The katsu-sando ($14) is another hit, and could be split or eaten as an individual meal. Fried breaded pork cutlet in soft white bread served with slaw.
Gyusuuji doteni ($18), a braised beef stew, is another success that could be eaten as a full meal, seven-hour-braised meat swimming in hacho miso accompanied by an enriching and comforting sour cream with some slaw and crostini for soaking up every bite.
Draft beer brewed on-site goes for $4.50 for a 9-ounce pour and $6.25 for 13 ounces, always poured straight up and down into unique flat-bottomed glasses for pure aesthetic effect.
Most beers hover around a sessionable 5%, though a smooth, not overly hoppy or amber IPA is 6%. A smoked saison and a dry hopped saison are noteworthy, and a Transatlantic Ale combines an APA and EPA for a drinkable, fun 5.2% beer.
355 mL cans are $3.75 each, $20 for six and $40 for a dozen. While I was there I was able to purchase their malty 4.8% Dortmunder, their smoked saison, and their deep and bitter stout.
The brainchild of Luc “Bim” Lafontaine of Dieu du Ciel!, Godspeed allows the brewmaster with over 20 years of experience to bring his craft to Toronto.