Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Elephant & Castle: 3.7/5

The Standard
Score: 3.3, Platter: $11.50

Bacon & Bleu Cheese
Score: 4.0, Platter: $12.50

The Deluxe
Score: 3.8, Platter: $12.50

The Double Standard
Score: 3.8, Platter: $15.50

The Elephant & Castle, at 350 St Mary Ave in the Delta Hotel, reopened May 1 after a short closure for renovations. The designers knew what they were doing and the refresh is wonderful. It’s still the E&C you've come to know and love – only shinier and freshly stuffed. Stamped tin panels adorn the ceiling and glazed black tiles, reminiscent of the Ministry of Magic, cover the pillars. The tables are spot lit from above, illuminating the food without making the room seem bright. There was eye catching tungsten feature lighting over the lobby and our large table.

Elephant & Castle (Roy - FaceBook)
The new furniture is the real treat - the wooden tables have an interesting grain and are fitted to the varying topography of the pub. The chair seats are very comfortable with firmly stuffed suede cushions - which means no sliding around. The booths are covered in fabulous shiny red leather - also firmly stuffed and quite comfortable. The biggest change you may notice is – there are washrooms now! No more wending your way through the hotel. The E&C like it better too; occasionally a diner would head off to find the bathroom - never to return. The large group use area in the back is gone; usurped by the new bathrooms.

The ever popular E&C doesn't take reservations so we got their early to grab tables. It’s immediately apparent that E&C puts a lot of stock in great service. There are multiple hostesses (they have two desks now) and waitresses as far as the eye can see. The General Manager, Roy, stopped by our tables more than once to make sure our group was having a good experience. Our waitress, Renae, was the best server *ever!* - just about everyone raved about Renae on their little review slips. All the staff seemed genuinely concerned with our happiness. “My drink was never dry!” April wrote.

The menu has also been refreshed. It's still pub fare with a number of popular favorites, but many new dishes to choose from as well. There are eight burgers including four beef assemblies, lamb, salmon, chicken and veggie. Roy pointed out that the pre-reno beef burger, piled with onion rings like a Fisher Price stacking ring toy and made large and juicy with a panade, was off the menu and replaced with a leaner patty. He managed our expectations by letting us know the patties were drier than they used to be, and to compensate, the double was moistened with a deep fried pickle. Requesting an extra slice of cheese wouldn't hurt either. This was foreshadowing for our burger story.

The new patty is made from brisket, chuck and rib cuts. It’s the healthier alternative. The ground round’s dense and thin, texture reminiscent of bison, lightly peppered with an attractive grill crust. The small, uniformly shaped patty is filling, but a double's not out of the question if you're a big eater. The modest short stack assembly didn't try to pretend it was anything it wasn't; the unassuming presentation was the stubby beer bottle of burgers.

All of us agreed that E&C have the winning bun recipe; the egg washed brioche was perfect. I think they peeked into Original Joe's kitchen. The bun had a light interior, brown toasted crust and was well matched to the patty. A gluten free option is also available. April wrote “The burger had a great appearance. It was shiny.”

The leaf lettuce, ripe tomato and raw red onion toppings were fresh, and the bacon cooked to leathery goodness. Always have the bacon! The cheese went practically unnoticed with several diners thinking it had been forgotten until looking inside their bun to see it crowning the patty. Some of our group noted the menu boasted tasty sauces like chipotle aioli and Guinness BBQ sauce but there didn't seem to be enough for the flavour to be pronounced or to moisten the lean patty. It definitely wasn't a messy burger. All in all, I enjoyed mine and I’m sure this smaller, healthier departure from increasingly large and dramatic burger offerings will be just the ticket for a lot of diners.

Geoff wrote “Continuing my tradition of ordering the largest burger on the menu, I had to go for the Double Standard burger. I didn't  have to unhinge my jaw to bite into it, but it was filling indeed. The bun retained its structural integrity although it got compressed. Ingredients were fresh and stayed in place. Bacon and pickles (both naked and deep fried) added some flavour. Didn't really taste the two cheeses, burger itself wasn't overly flavourful. Beer was quite tasty!

Mini Stuffed Yorkies
Cary commented the “Bacon & Bleu cheese burger had a very mature flavour”. I asked Cary what he meant by that. “Kids prefer Kraft Singles. Adults go gaga over the blue cheese.”

Bill wrote the “Fries were homemade and good.” Karen raved “the sweet potato fries were stellar - just the right amount. The dip was tasty.”

Elephant & Castle Pub and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

  1. Looks like a tongue sticking out of April's burger in the picture there.


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