Okay, who else has been glued to the television (or their laptop or tablet or phone) watching the Olympics this week?! My brother and I love watching sports. Always have, always will. It’s a very special thing that bonds us together as siblings so when the Olympics roll around every 2 years (summer and winter, don’t forget!) it’s like a sports and television party in our living room. We’re fascinated by the events, we’re captivated by the speed, the crazy flips and spins, and down-to-the-tenth-of-a-second finishes, and we love the feeling of celebration and pride for our team and athletes. We stay up late watching recaps from the day and we catch whatever coverage we can early in the morning before leaving the house. It’s so much fun and I love it.
Watching the Olympics take place in Sochi totally inspired me to do a little research on Russian food and Russian food in Toronto and while I’ve found some very cool options to check out, I really don’t think I’ll be able to go to them and then post before the Olympics are over, but at the very least it’s given me some creative juice to work with. So even though I don’t have any Russian cuisine to share with you guys, I do have overseas eats for you all today: British food from The Oxley!
Aside from the photo spotlight post I did on my British cookbook, this is the first post on Ate by Ate about British food and I’m so excited! Going to London is on my bucket list of places to visit at some point in my life. I salivate at the thought of visiting Twinings, Harrods and Hummingbird Bakery so until I can fly across the Atlantic and park myself down at one of the many afternoon tea spots, bakeries and pubs there, indulging in some British fare here in the city will have to soothe those daydreams for the time being.
The Oxley, located on Yorkville Ave. in Yorkville in a drop-dead gorgeous two-storey cherry red brick house, is the sister restaurant to The Queen and Beaver in downtown Toronto, a popular English pub and watering hole that serves both British and Scottish food. The Oxley is all sorts of fabulous. During the summer, it’s like being around an English courtyard and in the winter, it warms you up and makes you feel so cozy with its part English pub, part bar, part home living room vibe. You should see the place inside. I had the luxury of sitting and eating upstairs (a food blogger needs her natural light by the window!) and it’s unlike any other dining area I’ve ever been in. With its long bar with leather bar stools, mahogany tables, hard-wood flooring, black armchairs, deep purple cushioned seating, floral wallpaper, paisley patterned rugs and Union Jack by the bar window, the upstairs dining room is like a scene out of Sherlock Holmes novel. And I got to have a corner seat by the window all my by myself. I LOVED IT.
This is prime real estate, folks.
Their menu is so full of warmth and British character and flavour. I will preface this next part though by saying that if you’re looking for an inexpensive meal, look elsewhere. I think The Oxley is an amazing place to have a special lunch or dinner but if you’re just looking for something simple and casual money-wise, you’re not going to find it here simply because many of their mains come in between $16 -$24 (with appetizers $8 – $14, sides a la carte for $6, bar menu bites $8 – $12, and bar menu mains $18 – $26). Which is fine with me! I’m not made out of money but I’m constantly considering and evaluating what means the most to me and what would give me the most happiness so I don’t mind putting down the dough to enjoy a meal here because it’s worth it to me every once in awhile. But I know others may feel differently so I want to be completely honest with you guys so you don’t get the impression that this is something you can do every day!
The menu is chock full of British classics including rabbit and potato pie, fish and chips, Stilton and mushrooms on toasts, Huntsman’s pie, venison and mushroom suet pudding, and fish pie and peas. I went all out on the winter comfort food with my choices: Cream of Chicken with Tarragon Soup ($8) and Smoked Haddock Kedgeree with Poached Hen Egg ($16).
Let’s start by talking about the dishes. Yes, the things we put our food on. I wanted to squeal out loud. They are SO pretty. Tea dishes! Beautiful china with flowers and patterns and scalloped edges. My heart wanted to burst from happiness just by looking at them. Meals come with bread and butter which I happily devoured as I had foodgasms over my cream of chicken with tarragon soup to start. The soup is so delicious and creamy and not overly salty or seasoned or rich in the least. It was perfect and so savoury with just the right amount of thickness to it. With a bright green chive on top, it was both bright and comforting at the same time. And honestly, along with the bread, it would make an incredible light meal all on its own, it’s THAT good.
And now for the smoked haddock kedgeree with poached hen egg. In it’s stripped down essence, kedgeree is a rice dish with boiled fish and eggs rooted in Indian-British colonial culture and history, with lots of room for many different interpretations and spins on it. Could this be any more perfect for me?! This dish has Deb written all over it because it incorporates all my favourite foods, textures and flavours.
The Oxley put their signature on it with their mouthwatering, scrumptious version: hot rice bathed in curry sauce and spices, chunks of flaked haddock fish, toasted sliced almonds, bright green peas, and a beautiful and pristine poached egg on top. There is so much to adore. The rice is saucy, the almonds give the dish crunch, the smoked haddock fish provided savoury meatiness, the peas give it colour and homeyness (and I just love peas!) and the delicate poached egg just takes the whole thing to another level once you poke it, allowing the sunny yellow yolk to make the rice even more creamy and saucy – if that’s even possible! It’s gorgeous to look at and even more satisfying to eat.
I’m so happy I finally got to visit The Oxley (I’ve been wanting to go since last summer!). The staff was so nice to me, allowing me to sit by the window like I wanted and being so attentive and gracious and I felt like I was in another peaceful world sitting in their upstairs dining room looking out at the grey sky and Yorkville streets below. The food was wonderfully delicious and the experience felt…special, like something you couldn’t have anywhere else. And that was the real beauty of it.
The Oxley is located at 121 Yorkville Ave. at the corner of Hazelton Ave. in Yorkville, between Bay Street and Avenue Rd. They are open 7 days a week serving lunch, dinner and weekend brunch: Monday to Friday 11:30am to 3pm for lunch, 3pm to 5pm Bar Menu, Monday to Saturday 3pm to 11pm for dinner, Sunday 5pm-10pm for dinner, and Saturday & Sunday 10:30am to 3pm for weekend brunch. You can visit their official website at http://theoxley.com/