Last week I was invited to check out the soon to “officially” open East Thirty-Six on Wellington Street East by the St. Lawrence Market. Knowing they took over the space that used to belong to French restaurant Lucien, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Additionally, the new restaurant comes to us from the same team as Boutique Bar, so I wondered what East Thirty-Six would be all about. Upon arrival it was clear that these boys were offering Toronto a new hot spot for casual comfort and hand-crafted cocktails, but also that food would be handled with the same care.
The man behind the cocktails is renowned mixologist and co-owner Julien Salomone who has created cocktail programs for a variety of France’s best 5-star hotels and haute beach clubs as well as some of Toronto’s finest including One, Auberge du Pommier, and Nota Bene. Being more of a wine girl, but never one to say no to creatively concocted cocktails, I tried the Pink Jalisco (Tromba tequila, Campari, lemon juice, agave nectar pink grapefruit, topped with Perrier), which was very tasty, not too sweet and made my cheeks red. Other cocktails on the menu (that I left for others to try) were the Rum Row, which is spiced rum, apricot liquor, lemon juice, ginger syrup, and tonic float; as well as the Borsalino which is Lot 40 rye, cynar, lime juice, and a splash of maple syrup. Creative right? From what I could see, guests agreed.
As I sipped on my strong pink cocktail, I admired the way the room is decorated in a mix of sensual European accents and cozy comfortable seating. The lighting is perfectly dim to make everyone look beautiful and the room is filled with excitement as the eclectic owners run around truly caring about each individual guest. Co-owners Devon Salomone, Julien’s wife, Stanley Bernard, formerly of the O&B group, and Sebastian Moya, who worked alongside Salomone in France, all ensure that everyone is content and don’t go wanting – the true French way.
Upon sitting down, we jumped into the evening’s menu, which I was pleasantly anticipating as the man behind it is famous Toronto Chef Brent Maxwell, formerly of Luma. The first surprise of the evening was the radish served with butter – yes, I do realize this may sound odd. However, growing up in a French family, this is a very common French way to start a meal. The crisp and spicy radish paired with the salty French butter – well, all I can say is you need to try it to believe it.
We proceeded to try some fantastic dishes with one of the most stand out being the starter of Caillettes on toast, another French tradition (well actually, back in the day peasants ate this for breakfast). Caillettes is the mixture of pork parts mixed with spices and wrapped in pork fat to result in a sausage unlike any other. Served on toast with mustard, East Thirty-Six nailed it – my mama would be proud.
Another unforgettable dish was the cauliflower “salad,” which was unified with capers, preserved lemon, hazelnut, parsley and a fantastic brown butter I could’ve eaten with a spoon. Trust me when I say that this is a must order dish at East Thirty-Six.
My other favourite was the Boudin Blanc. Call me a French snob, but this is not a dish easily pulled off in North America… or at least I haven’t tried many that I would re-order. This one I would and probably will in the near future.
East Thirty-Six hosts its official grand opening this Thursday, March 27th, and I for one will be making the trip over to the east side of Toronto to have another meal – not only for the food, but also for the atmosphere which is truly comfortable and sexy at the same time.
Planning to try East Thirty-Six soon? Come back and let us know your thoughts in the comments below or tweet us @ViewTheVibe.