Thoroughbred is bar and eatery with a house party vibe and a menu featuring snack foods and large-format feasts. Owned by Ariel Coplan and Jacob Fox, the spot occupies two floors in a converted house just across from the Scotiabank Theatre on Richmond.
Upon entering you'll find a bar with DJ booth inhabits the first floor while a staircase leads to a chef's table in view of the open kitchen and then into another dining room. A third floor is being reserved for another separate concept that's yet to launch.
The dining room menu is meant for big parties, and the plan is for sprawling seafood dinners. Smaller parties can choose to just let chef Coplan cook a bespoke meal tailored to personal tastes and an agreed cost per guest.
In the future, the restaurant might offer communal dinners where strangers can attend solo or in pairs to partake in the feasting experience. When I visit there's just two of us and while we'd both be willing to give a six-person lobster dinner a go, we sample instead from the more suitably portioned line-up of small plates on the bar menu.
A quenelle of silky chicken liver mousse ($10) looks quite dainty, though the staff assures me it's not so precious - I shouldn't worry about plucking the rough torn pieces of marble rye (house-baked, BTW) from the plate and just swiping up the light, airy pate with my fingers. Pickled cherries contribute tart notes while crunchy granola adds textural interest and balance.
Golden-fried pea fritters ($9) are fluffy and, when bitten into, reveal a bright green centre. They're a little greasy, but in a good way that makes even these humble staple vegetables feel a little indulgent. Peas and trimmed carrots are dressed in a tart shallot mustard vinaigrette and studded around the plate with dollops of creamy ricotta (also house-made) for contrast.
A Waldorf-inspired grain salad ($9) is updated with a miso dressing and punctuates this otherwise rich assemblage of plates with some perceived healthfulness. It's built over a bed of couscous and rye berries. Puffed quinoa and almond crumble add crunch while grapes, apple and celery complete the signature flavours of the classic dish.
For dessert, there are mini pies ($3.50) made of flakey butter crust and filled with seasonal fruits (mixed berries today). A scoop of house-made vanilla ice cream on the side just accentuates how warm a fresh the pastry is.
If even these three bites are too much commitment, there are single-bite candy bar truffles ($2.50) in flavours like Twix, Crunch and peanut butter cup - just beware that while small, they're saccharine.
I ignore the wine list on this visit - I'm told it boasts both wine on tap in addition to an extensive list of bottles.
I'm more intrigued by the rare and interesting beer selections like Japanese Le Hitachino Nest red rice beer, and cocktails like the Cadillac Chrome ($13), a dangerously easy-to-drink update on the Jungle Bird tiki drink, made here with Tromba tequila, house-juiced pineapple and salted Campari.
Photos by Jesse Milns