RESTAURANT REVIEW | Concession Road | Hillcrest Village

If you’ve been to Pukka on St. Clair West in Hillcrest Village then you won’t be surprised to hear that owners Derek Valleau and Harsh Chawla have teamed up again. This time they’re bringing their creativity to a globally inspired French restaurant, Concession Road at 760 St. Clair Ave. W. You might walk right past Concession Road’s unassuming exterior but once you’re inside you will see that there is a theme and that unassuming nature carries on with pleasing results. The interior is stark and yet comfortable with surprising warmth. One half of the restaurant has mostly bar height tables and is decidedly more moody, and yet wandering to the room next door the mood changes dramatically and yet somehow seamlessly. This second side offers very comfortable tables with a long bench running the entire length which capitalizes on the narrow room for dramatic impact. The lighting throughout is beautiful. The walls are unadorned which initially seems stark. Once the food is delivered you immediately understand their logic… allow the food to be the art. It works and may I also add that it is rather convenient for photographing food. The staff are professional and clearly as excited about the food as the patrons. The menu is sophisticated and although they identify as French inspired it is distinctly Canadian. PEI grass fed beef is used for the truly spectacular tartare. Beef tartare almost always leaps off the menu at me and this one which was seated perfectly on cubed Asian pear and topped with a quail’s egg has also leapt into my heart. It was paired with a gorgeous assortment of crisp and lightly pickled veg. This arrangement was much preferred over the oftentimes misguided inclusion of the pickle right in the tartare. The option of two different portions is clever and although I could happily eat beef tartare in a portion approximately the size of my own head, I opted for the smaller of the two leaving room (and so happy I did) for the sensibly sized and beautifully prepared pan seared Atlantic Cod. The side of smashed purple potato was pretty but ultimately a bit bland, while the peas and lemongrass beurre blanc combined for a plate that was heaven sent.
Beef Tartare
PEI grass-fed beef tartare, asian pear, pickled vegetables, quail’s egg yolk, toast
My dinner date ordered the fluke and ocean trout sashimi with green peppercorn vinaigrette and broccoli remoulade. While the headlining sashimi was excellent the remoulade was a touch on the dry side. The Mennonite-farmed fried chicken with mash was delicious and again very reasonably sized… Canadian sized. I’m always impressed when kitchens understand that portion sizes matter. Concession Road gets this exactly right.
Fried Chicken
‘JFC’ Mennonite-farmed fried chicken, mash, tomato + preserved lemon mayo
Atlantic Cod
Pan-seared Atlantic cod, purple potato, green peas, beets, lemongrass beurre blanc
A side order of frites with harissa mayo was ordered to share and might I suggest that this be common practice. They have those little devils sorted perfectly. I suspect they are double fried which is always an excellent idea! Again, Concession Road has just the right touch as the frites are a perfectly sized portion (for sharing) and fried to crispy deep golden perfection. I might however have liked the harissa to be slightly more aggressive.
Frites with Harissa
Pomme frites, harissa mayo
If almonds aren’t your thing then you are left with the Chocolate Terrine on the desert menu… a very happy turn of events in my opinion! Decadent, delectable and definitely not to be missed! Presumably the fresh local strawberries are switched out depending on what’s in season, but hopefully the terrine itself stays on the menu throughout.
IMG_0562
Chocolate terrine, local strawberries, whipped cream
The wine list and knowledgable sommelier make the cheese offering a tempting finish, again being offered in two different sizes. This would be just the choice for an evening when a longer stay is planned. Prices were on the steep side for a neighbourhood restaurant and almost forgivable given the excellence of not only presentation but also flavours. While Concession Road may not become a regular stop for this particular reviewer based on prices alone, I will most certainly be checking back in again soon in hopes that the excellence with which they have begun will be maintained in the long run.
The overall average rating was: [yasr_overall_rating size=”medium”]
This is how they ranked: Atmosphere – 3.5 Service – 4.5 Food source – 4 Taste – 4 Cost – 2.5 Vibe: The place where the patrons and the staff alike share the excitement over the newness of it all.
Stacia_Carlton_HeadShotStacia Carlton is a culinary school graduate and food writer who now has a number one spot for beef tartare in the city. You can visit her at www.bestillandeat.com for weekly recipes and stories.  

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