Address: 592 Queen St.W., Toronto, ON
When I visited: April 2017, Dinner
Focal Resto Lounge is the new restaurant to hit Queen St.W. in a busy strip with other notable restaurants including Lamesa and Lisa Marie. The restaurant was modern with had a touch of rustic charm with a fireplace at the back of the restaurant. During my visit on a Friday night, music was pumping but still at a comfortable level where I could hear my husband talk, which was a great thing when it was date night.
Having met owners John and Rajee during my visit, I had a chance to understand their vision. Their food and drink menu aims to embrace the incredible flavours from various global cuisines. Dishes on their menu included Korean short ribs, Indonesian curry, Middle-Eastern pomegranate chicken, and dishes with a mash up of Thai and Indian flavours. On top of a fun and creative menu, the prices were reasonable for a downtown restaurant with mains from $22 to $36, and desserts at $10. Talking about desserts, they were definitely the highlight of my meal and worth the trip just for that.
There were a few tweaks in my mind to perfect the dishes but overall there were a lot of wonderful things about their food and menu. The stand out in all the savoury dishes were the sauces and the purees. The dishes that wowed me that I would re-order was the poutine, scallops, Thai risotto meatball, and the grilled pineapple upside down cake.
What we ordered:
Duck Confit Poutine ($10)- Pulled duck confit, chopped kimchi slaw, duck gravy, and melted cheese curds. Who doesn’t love poutine? The crispy skin and the gravy really made the dish stand out.
Yin Yang Scallops ($12) – Scallops done two ways. A coriander-dusted and pan seared scallop with a red onion gastrique, and curry butternut squash puree; and a citrus ceviche scallop with avocado puree. The scallops and the smooth purees were both equally tasty.
Thai risotto meatball ($7) – Thai infused pork and beef blended meatball, stuffed inside creamy risotto, on a bed of homemade butter chicken sauce. This dish was my favourite appetizer as I enjoyed the strong lemongrass flavour in the meatball, as well as the aromatic butter chicken sauce. The Thai and Indian flavours went well together.
Korean BBQ short rib ($14)– Korean BBQ short ribs, orange reduction with crispy spun potatoes. Although the short ribs were tender and the presentation was nice, I felt like more of the orange reduction sauce was needed to make the dish stand out.
Surf and Turf Ravioli ($22)– Crispy ravioli filled with shrimps, scallops and salmon, paired with slow braised butter chicken. The presentation was over-the-top! The sauce and the crispy ravioli were my favourite parts of the dish. The chicken could have been more tender for me.
Chimichurri NY Strip Loin ($36)– Certified Angus NY strip loin, homemade chimichurri sauce, red wine demi-glace, stacked potatoes, sautéed vegetables. The strip loin was extremely tender and the star of the dish, with a peppery chimichirri sauce. The stacked potatoes could have been more crispy all the way through.
“Baklava” Chilled Cheesecake ($10)–Crispy phyllo pastry, chopped pistachio, spiced rosewater syrup, layered between creamy chilled matcha cheesecake. I had recommendations to try the cheesecake. The texture was creamy and the presentation was beautiful.
Grilled Pineapple Upside-Down Cake ($10)– Sweet grilled pineapples, chopped candied bacon, buttery sponge cake, toasted almonds, pineapple syrup, vanilla ice cream, topped with crispy pineapple chips and a strip of candied bacon. I was stuffed but saved the best for last! This was my favourite dish of the entire evening with a moist cake, strong pineapple flavours and a mound of ice-cream. I would come back just to eat this dessert!
The restaurant is still in its infancy, so I know that restaurants often tweak the flavours here and there. The restaurant also serves brunch on the weekends with fried oysters benny, and jerk chicken and waffles! The owners will also be incorporating daily specials and a late night bar menu. Their buck-a-shuck starts May. 12th, 2017 on Friday and Saturday’s, which is another reason to come visit.
Focal Resto Lounge aims to be the ‘focal’ point of the neighbourhood and the go-to spot for visitors outside the city. With a creative global inspired drink, lunch, dinner and brunch menu at reasonable prices; there are many reasons to come to the restaurant. Plus, the service was attentive.
*Disclosure: The meal was complimentary but as always, the opinions in the post are my own.