yesterday was the dotytron's champagne birthday (29 on the 29th.) i neglected to mention it because i was too busy going INSANE trying to prepare for the farm trip. basically, the kdubsguelph toronto crew are all heading up to this place called markdale, ontario (close to owen sound) to celebrate new year's and J's birthday up at L's farm/cottage that's not on a lake. i'm super-excited...this is probably the most ambitious thing we've done for new year's in about 4-5 years...lol! the best is that it's going to be all people we love in the same place. the usual problem with new year's is that people are doofuses, and don't commit, and want it to be an epic night and totally over-plan it. this is just going to be a fun getaway weekend, although i have a hard time thinking that it could possibly rival last year's jack astor's love in with me, bwong, and the dotytron, during a huge snowstorm, when the dotytron botched mr. big's "to be with you" and kiboshed playing "come on eileen." lol!
anyway, last night most of the goosetang clan (minus dr. rei and hanbo...who seem to be missing all the epic goosetang hangs lately!) and the roomie, and l'army, and montreal I went to harlem restaurant for dinner. the dotytron had a hankering for soul food and the best i can say about it is that i suppose it's as good as you're going to get for american soul food in toronto (damning with faint praise?) essentially, we don't really have that type of black culture in toronto...most of the black culture is from recent (relatively) immigrants from the caribbean (which is why we get such awesome rotis and doubles and jerk goat, and soca [i don't like soca]) but not so much from the candied yams/banana pudding/fried chicken and waffles school of awesomeness...which i think is where my true heart lies. overall, the food was fairly generously portioned and reasonably priced (there was some dissension about this, but the most expensive entree ordered was $20 and the most expensive appetizer [the ribs] was $12, which i think is fair).
bwong, dotytron and i went splitsies on stuff...we shared:
catfish lafayette, which the menu describes as "seasoned, deep fried catfish or chicken morsels in a hot sauce" the sauce wasn't hot in a chili-sense...it could have been a lot more incendiary, instead, it was more of a sweet'n'sour concoction (truthfully, i was expecting a creamy remoulade-y type of smothering sauce - like chicken gravy or something...i don't know why.) as you can see, it's a pretty big portion and it was still pretty tasty.
i had the bourbon baby back ribs...which were nicely cooked (not smoked). tender, with the right amount of grip at the bone so you could tear off the gristle that connects bone to meat in one satisfying strip...the sauce was a sweet-based barbecue sauce with a good amount of depth...again, it was billed as a "hot" sauce but there was little discernible heat.
the dotytron ordered the jerk chicken quesadilla, which was nice (although not very soul food), which came topped with a sweet chili sauce.
for our mains we went splitsies again. we shared the fried chicken which was all dark meat (bliss!) coated in a semi-shaggy crumb topped with another sweet-hot sauce and served with an indiscriminate afterthought "salad" of mixed mesclun greens, a blackberry, some sliced plum, and some kind of dressing (i generally refuse to eat afterthought salads on principle.) the fried chicken was pretty darn tasty, i thought. extra points for our plate consisting of all thighs.
i ordered the beef short ribs, which were really tender, very meaty, and sauced with a "brown" (both in flavour and appearance) sauce that had a good mix of vaguely caribbean influenced spices (thyme, allspice, etc.) it was served with rice (which tasted like uncle ben's parboiled, to be honest) and sauteed swiss chard. it was really good though, and a very generous short rib serving (considering i've paid double that for half the amount of meat before.)
the dotytron got the ham hock, which by the end of it's obvious long-braise seemed to have lost all it's porkiness...the ham hock was right up my alley but not so much anyone else's - mostly bone encased in flabby skin, again sauced with the "brown"ish sauce and served with rice and greens. the ham wasn't very ham-like though, and i think that was a bit disappointing...it didn't have enough of that salty ham flavour you're looking for. it was probably the weakest main.
a meal for 6 people, with 3 cocktails and 4 beers, 5 apps, 6 mains, came to $215 before tip which i thought was a pretty fair price, considering that INCLUDED the alcohol. i'd go back, but stick to the ribs and the fried chicken.
it was a HI-LARIOUS night though. bwong, dotytron, and i were in fine form and were pwning right, left, and centre. we got into some pretty heady conversations on sexual proclivities, definitions of deviance, art and aesthetics, homosexuality, the intarw3bs (oh hai!), and other random ridiculousness which culminated in a visit at home from our buddy S whom we then had the pleasure of ribbing for a while. it was a near-perfect night. i love my friends. fam-up!
now we're off to the farm...have a safe and happy new year everyone!
see you in '09!