I have 73 friends on Facebook. I’m not bragging, I’m telling you because I find it weird. I really don’t have 73 friends; they are acquaintances that for some bizarre reason I share parts of my life with every day. Of course, some of these friends are people I really hang out with, so the sharing is done face to face on the most part. But then there are the friends on FB with whom I never get together, don’t live in the same hood, don’t talk to on the phone, don’t run into at the gym, grocery store or even the library.
One of these friends is a food photographer about whom I’ve shared information with you before, Jim Norton. I met Jim through work, our studio used to shoot with him regularly; our clients have changed and we just don’t shoot at his studio that often anymore. Jim and his wife Tonya live close to our hood and both are regularly active on FB, posting updates every now and then. Jim has posted updates a couple of times on FB about The Westerly, a relatively new restaurant in our hood. As you know, JT and I like trying out new places so we made a reservation for Friday night. During cocktails on Thursday, I had an epiphany so messaged Jim and Tonya on FB if they wanted to join us, after all, we’ve been sharing about our lives, we might as well get to know one another ;-). They said yes and we updated our reservation to four!
The Westerly is a restaurant with a relaxing West Coast vibe and refined comfort food (described by Amy Pataki from the Toronto Star). For me, it’s more Paris Bistro meets LES NYC (Lower East Side, New York City). It’s not a huge restaurant, but large enough that the vibe was great and the noise level moderate. Unfortunately, there was a mix-up with our reservation change and we forgot to take a name, but the staff (and owner) were quick to accommodate, even though they were packed! They sat us at a cozy table near the back which was great because we needed to get acquainted with our FBFs!
We were immediately served Arancini Bolognese (Arborio rice, Woolwich Dairy Goats Cheese, Bolognese and fresh arugula) as a gift for the mix-up. Arancini are deep fried rice balls. Now most of you know that I am not a huge deep fried eater, never have been, but I must say they were DELICIOUS! Crispy on the outside, creamy and smooth on the inside. Very tasty indeed. Our drink orders were taken and we were left to ponder the menu (which is not huge, but it has a nice variety). Three of us at the table shared a bottle wine, which they brought and poured immediately. The cocktail (some kind of whiskey mix) took quite a bit longer to arrive; other than that, the service was great, and our dishes were nicely spaced giving us time to chat and enjoy the company.
JT and I shared the Butter Lettuce & Gorgonzola which had toasted Walnuts, sherry marinated Red onions and julienne dates (I didn’t get any of the dates, hmmmm?). JT and Jim both ordered Braised Short Ribs, red wine braised, roasted cippolini onions, horseradish mashed potato, marinated golden beets, roasted brussels sprouts — they said it was delicious; Tonya and I had the Steak frites, which was grilled strip loin with bearnaise butter & jus served on house-cut frites (I asked my fries be replaced with a salad, which they quite happily did!). The steak was nicely done (I prefer mine rare) and the butter was a very tasty addition (I just let it melt into the steak for a bit and then set it off to the side). The fries were substituted with fresh crisp greens, shaved fennel, radish, toasted pumpkin seeds, red wine vinaigrette, very yummy.
The dinner lasted just about 2.5 hours! The restaurant was as busy at 10:00 as it was at 7:30 when we arrived! We invited Jim and Tonya back to our place for dessert and coffee and more wine. It really was a lovely evening and now I can truly say I have two more friends!
Overall rating of The Westerly (in my opinion): Decor 4/5, service 4/5, food 4/5, Value 4/5, Noise: 2.5/5 (1 being very noisy, and 5 being very quiet).
Disclaimer: We purchased our meal for full price and my opinions just that, my opinions.