Join the Rebellion: add local gastropub to list of great eateries

Dinner_With_Liz_column

When we first walk into The Rebel House in Rosedale, I’m convinced I’ve made a mistake. There’s a large bar and a good many customers quaffing brews, but few tables. This can’t be the gastropub.

But it is.

We are shown to the back where a few more tables materialize, and then out to a bustling patio. My comfort level immediately rises. This is more like it.

It just gets better from there.

The standard menu is augmented with a substantial daily-specials list, a good sign that the food here is indeed fresh. And the creativity box is ticked too.

The sausage special is wild boar with cranberries, served with homemade fresh herb mustard and toast points. The mussels are steamed in ginger Hoisin broth with cilantro. Even a grilled cheese sandwich goes beyond boring, with French bread filled with two sharp cheeses and cooked in shallot butter.

I’m getting hungry just reading the menu.

To start, my guest chooses the soup of the day ($6.95). Mushroom soup here is an earthy broth of pureed mushrooms garnished with a small, toasted baguette slice topped with mushroom pate.

My guest approves the contrast of textures and flavours.

I could not resist a starter of cornbread, spiced with Scotch bonnet peppers and scallions ($3.75). The cornmeal has been very coarsely ground and the slices have been toasted on the grill.

Only mildly tangy, this is some of the best cornbread I’ve ever tasted.

For his main course, my guest chooses a pub classic, shepherd’s pie ($18.95), but this version takes the traditional dish to another level. Instead of the ground beef, which is the usual in pubs, the filling has meaty chunks of lamb in a vegetable stew. It’s basically like a lamb hotpot, topped with mashed potatoes.

My guest raves about the creamy potatoes but comments that, while he really likes the filling, it’s too runny.

My main, chosen from the specials menu, is fried organic chicken drumsticks, topped with wildflower honey and served with mashed potatoes and a blend of vegetables — heirloom carrots, green beans and broccoli ($15.95).

The chicken is crisp, the coating just thick enough to add its crunch to the tender meat. And I’ve discovered a new treat: a swirl of honey adds a lovely sweet touch to the chicken. (Don’t tell KFC!)

It gets thumbs up from both of us.

There are only two desserts on the menu tonight: cranberry apple crumble and Rocky Road bread pudding.

Bread pudding seems a little heavy after our substantial meal, so we opt to share the crumble ($6.95). My plan is to taste it, but after the first sampling I tuck in as heartily as my guest. It’s a race to the finish for every morsel of sweet, tart apple cranberry blend topped with sweet crunchy crumble.

There’s cream and a pretty swirl of custard and strawberry coulis. Full marks for presentation on a dish that could have come in a bowl topped with cream and a dried cranberry.

This place has been delighting locals for a long time, so I’m apparently late to discover it. But better late than never, they say.

They also offer some excellent microbrewery (they serve only Ontario brews) and Ontario wine selections. Add this spot to your list of great eateries. You won’t be sorry.

Rebel House, 1068 Yonge St, 416- 927-0704