Dinner at Swan - FTguest blogger Laine Cole

Laine Cole, my lovely hairdresser and also an avid food lover shares her thoughts on a local favourite- Swan!  Enjoy!  
You can find Laine at B Suite Salon, 132 Atlantic Ave, 416-953-8710

Swan serves up contemporary comfort food in a retro diner suited perfectly to its trendy Queen West address. My main squeeze, Sevaan, and I arrive early enough for dinner so despite not having a reservation, we’re seated promptly. (I’d recommend resos, weekends especially, it gets quite busy) The decor is simple art deco, with light avocado walls above amber wood paneling. The lighting is kept dim, almost candle lit, and the music is always to my tastes. Good if you like alt/indie rock. The restaurant’s seating is mainly booths for four with bright orange Formica topped tables with only one table at the back for larger parties. Diner stools line the bar near the front and an antique Coca-Cola cooler serves as an oyster bar where fresh shucked oysters are served with hot pepper infused vodka and an array of other condiments.
Swan’s eclectic menu is a lot of meat and potatoes and it features a daily fish special, and a new vegetarian risotto each night. I like coming when I’m craving a big meal of my favourite comfort foods like pork chops, braised short ribs and lotsa mashed potatoes and other yummy roots. To start we ordered the Beef Carpaccio with Smoked Tomato Relish and Basil Aioli. It’s delicious, but the delicate buttery flavour of the well marbled carpaccio is almost completely over powered by the basil aioli. The Grilled Bread with Tomatoes is a deconstructed bruschetta. Four generous slices buttered French bread, lightly charred and smoky tasting is served alongside a heap of chopped tomatoes, greens and a few olives.  It’s fresh and tasty, but it would be even better with a shaving of parmesan.  Luckily, Sevaan and I have big appetites because it’s almost a meal in itself.
The mains arrive. They are large and filling portions reminiscent of old fashioned diner fare, but done with a nouveau twist. Sevaan ordered The Crisp Roasted BBQ Capon. It’s crusted in corn meal, drizzled with cilantro lime aioli and served with fennel slaw, roast potatoes, and a medley of tender crisp green vegetables and my share of it was mouth watering. I hardly ever order chicken at a restaurant, but the cornmeal on the breast with attached wing was browned and crunchy, complimenting the incredibly juicy meat. The liquorish flavours of the crisp, cool slaw mingle well with the cilantro and lime, a nice accompaniment for each bite of capon. Capon is castrated rooster for anyone wondering. Losing their little guys produces tender meat, free of any stringiness you might find in regular old chicken. I feel like a burger at least once a week these days, so I chose the Lamb Burger. It’s served on a soft and fresh onion bun and is topped with sweet caramelized onions, greens, mayo and Dijon mustard. The lamb is cooked to medium pink and the Dijon finishes each bite with a little kick. It’s sided with lightly dressed mixed greens, rather boring, but we can all use the roughage and the burger does well on its own. I added salty pancetta and Swiss cheese too.  There is a wide-ranging wine list, I almost always ask for a recommendation with glasses starting at $7 and a nice big dessert menu. The portions are more than large enough for sharing. We choose a creamy Maple Creme Brulee with a perfectly browned and blistered top and two huge wedges of Chipotle Chocolate Brownies, perched on a drizzle of chilli infused raspberry coulis and a big dollop of whipped cream.
The service is laid back, but attentive. It can get a little slow once the place is bustling, but I don’t mind because the atmosphere is so relaxed. Besides, our water glasses were always full, our server was very friendly and her menu recommendations didn’t disappoint. Mains run $15-$27.
*** 1/2 stars
Swan Restaurant - 892 Queen Street West (At Trinity Drive)
(416) 532-0452‎
Operating Hours
12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm

12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm

12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm

12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm

12:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm

10:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-10:30pm

10:00pm-3:30pm, 5:00pm-10:00pm
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