South of Temperance
South of Temperance, newly opened at Yonge and Adelaide, seems to have quickly become the Financial District's new hot spot. At 6pm on a Tuesday evening there is already a half hour wait for a table, so the host offers to take a cell phone number and call us when a table becomes available.
We decide to have a drink at the bar - or more accurately near the bar - as the whole area is packed with people. Glass of wine in hand, we find ourselves lost in a sea of suits and ties, taking in what feels more like a cocktail party than a dining room while we wait for our table.
The restaurant is large and open, with a wall of glass garage doors opening onto a stylish patio with slatted wood fencing and tropical greenery. It's cocktail hour, and well-dressed professionals pack the premises for drinks and dinner.
Once seated at our table, which is inside, though practically outside in this airy space, we're approached by a pleasant server clad in high heels and a black miniskirt. From a long list of wine and cocktails, we settle on some reasonably priced California white and begin to mull over the menu selections.
The menu is fairly lengthy, with choices ranging from apps and salads, burgers and sandwiches, pastas, and more meaty offerings like steak and lamb. We start with the fish tacos ($11 - top photo), which arrive in a group of three soft shell tacos presented in a little metal tray that holds them all upright. The battered, fried fish is topped with avocado cream, tangy jicama slaw and cilantro, and though the tacos are very appetizing themselves, the spicy sauce they're served with makes them even better.
On a cooler day we would very likely be tempted by the lobster mac & cheese, but today we decide to try a lighter pasta, and settle on the goat cheese ravioli caprese ($15). The large ravioli come on a bed of sautéed spinach, stuffed with lemony goat cheese and topped with little balls of fresh mozzarella and sundried tomato. The pasta is well prepared and quite flavourful for a simple dish.
Though there are definitely more elegant items available, the not your mother's grilled cheese sandwich ($12) sends me on a flash back to my childhood days when this was the only item on a menu I would even consider (I insisted I was surveying restaurants to find the best ones), and I can't resist. The gooey, panini-style sandwich comes on focaccia bread, oozing with brie, mozzarella, aged cheddar, applewood-smoked bacon and tomatoes. With many years of grilled-cheese sampling under my belt, I can say with confidence that this sandwich is one even the more refined diner could enjoy. The well seasoned, thick cut sweet potato fries on the side are an ideal accompaniment.
Though South of Temperance seems as much about the social environment as it does a place to grab a post-work meal, and not the kind of spot us west-enders would generally find ourselves, we're pleasantly surprised by the experience. The food is satisfying, the service is friendly and the atmosphere, loud and crowded as it is, is still enjoyable. This may not be the kind of place you would travel across town just to visit, but its popularity amongst the Bay Street crowd makes perfect sense.
Photos by Taralyn Marshall