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The Westerly

Posted on May 2, 2012 by in Roncesvalles Village

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4 stars

Located at the top of the restaurant strip on Roncesvalles, The Westerly is a cozy neighbourhood spot that is sure to please.  The uncomplicated menu features classic dishes done beautifully and just a step or two above others’. Five of us arrived for dinner last week and were greeted the charming co-owner, Tom, who presided over the evening with grace and warmth.

We spent an inordinately long time trying to decide from the 10 appetizers and 10 mains. Each looked better than the next and made our decisions more difficult than usual. While we deliberated, a bottle of shiraz and a custom champagne drink were ordered and a basket of some of the best foccaccia I’ve had in a long time arrived at the table. The crust was crispy and salty and the filled basket did not last long.

After a solid twenty minutes of deliberation, we placed our orders: the romaine heart salad to split two ways; steamed PEI mussels in a grainy mustard butter with a side order of fries; roasted Chicken Supreme stuffed with pulled pork (yes, you read that right) served with bacon & smoked cheddar Israeli couscous; the house burger, made with ground chuck, veal and braised short rib; pan-seared arctic char served atop Israeli couscous with lobster; and roasted halibut topped with salsa verde and served with potatoes and mussels.

When the food arrived, five sets of eyes widened. The plates were beautiful and smelled fantastic.  I’m lucky enough to have friends who share, so I got a little of everyone’s meal. While all were delicious, there were a few outstanding bites that I would return for which I would The Westerly in a heartbeat. The Israeli couscous with smoked cheddar and bacon was aromatic and, surprisingly, not heavy at all. The smoked ingredients permeated the little couscous pearls, infusing them with a ton of flavour.  Next was the burger which was so tender it nearly fell apart in my hands as I ate it, juice running down my hands. It came with a spicy salsa that cut through the richness of the burger beautifully.  Undoubtedly, this is a big crowd pleaser.

Between the two fish dishes, I preferred the halibut. I liked the lightness of the fish paired with the bright salsa verde. There was certainly nothing wrong with the char – it was rich, not overcooked and the lobster-laden Israeli couscous was excellent. The balance and combination of ingredients in the halibut dish, though, really appealed to me and I will likely order it upon my next visit.

Amazingly, we had some room left for shared desserts. I opted to split the warm apple crumble with fresh whipped cream while others went for the lemon tart. The crumble was comforting, filled with cinnamon and topped with large, buttery pieces of crumble. Incredible. Definitely a great end to a meal but I recommend sharing as it is quite heavy – otherwise you may be rolling out of the restaurant, pants unzipped.

I would return to The Westerly, unquestionably. My friends and I had a great time in a charming restaurant in which we were treated well (though there was some miscommunication with a dessert, it was rectified gracefully).  If you haven’t been, add it to your list and prepare for a lovely brunch or dinner!

- Carolyn

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