The honey badger is a legend, an animal that has stepped into folklore with its ruthless attitude. Some call it the Chuck Norris of the animal kingdom. So, I was intrigued to sample a bistro which pays homage to this iconic creature, especially when it appears with a glass of wine and ready for a fight. There weren’t ruthless looking patrons strewn across the small bar. Instead, it was a plain looking place with tables donning burgundy tablecloths and plain walls minus a few posters telling me that “You’re the sugar to my tea”. How sweet!
I was with a friend who is a cool version of three of the top 44 worst person in every restaurant (ironically she is also the one who sent me the article). For the record, at times I can be classified at times as sad solo diner. My defense is that I travel a bit and don’t have the energy to ask my friends to indulge in my frequent culinary endeavors. And yes, I do look at my phone a lot. I’ll get back to her in a second.
The menu would suggest it could be classified as a gastropub despite the fact it is called a bistro. There’s everything from small plates to sandwiches to burgers to poutine. There are often gourmet twists on standard fare, with offerings like mashed cherry jam and 40 creek mayo scattered across the menu. There is lots of meat and lots of bread, which means lots of gluten, a point which brings me back to my lunch companion. If you didn’t click the link above, she is the cool version of each of the following:
“I’d like the salmon, but instead of the corn, can I get the braised cauliflower from the steak dish? And instead of the frisee salad, can I get that appetizer you used to have in the ’90s, but with a different type of aioli? And instead of the salmon, can I get thrown through the plate glass window in the front of restaurant?”
The Gluten-Free Evangelist
Stop giving us murder eyes when we go for the bread basket. No one cares what it’s done for your “energy”.
The Guilt-Tripping Vegan
Is the exact moment I bite into my steak tartare really the time to bring up that expose you just watched on what really happens behind the scenes at slaughterhouses? Doesn’t matter — I’m going to enjoy it even more out of spite.
So, a gluten loving porkivore and a fish-eating, non-dairy consuming psuedo-vegan who neither guilt-trips nor evangelizes but does substitute enter a Windsor bistro and order roasted butternut squash soup without cream, candied yam fries, a salad and a honey badger reuben.
The candied yam fries ($8) were insanity in a bowl. The sweet potatoes were piled with torched mini marshmallows and topped with what the menu calls a a brown sugar drizzle. It was more like a gravy, seasoned with savory flavours like oregano. Despite the odd sound of this combination, it was actually quite delicious, especially as the marshmallows melted into a delicious fry coating goo shortly after the picture was taken. The fries were cooked well and the whole concoction was not overly sweet. It was a pleasant surprise. Even better, it was appropriate for a sort of vegan.
The reuben was also well executed. The marble rye bread was grilled crisp and was cooked enough to allow the swiss cheese to melt thoroughly. The brisket was tender and the unique addition of the forty creek mayo and brusselkraut (saurkraut made with brussel sprouts) was a delicious twist. The side salad was pleasant as well, dressed lightly with a balsamic dressing. It was a huge sandwich (mmmm. gluten and meat) for a reasonable $12 and I managed to enjoy a little more than half of it before throwing in the towel without so much as a evangelist or guilt-tripping stare from across the table.
As for the soup, I only had a bite. It was okay…but I think it needed cream.
I was hoping for a T-shirt saying “I survived the Honey Badger” but instead left with a stomach full of a decent meal. The menu is casual but well thought out and executed. The yam fries were extreme and the reuben blended an old-school classic with an eclectic spin. The soup needed cream. As for the ambiance , it was a bit drab and certainly didn’t match the exciting food. Either that or I walked into my first ever (and probably last) beestropub.
PS. Thanks to Windsor Eats (www.windsoreats.com) for posting the menu online. Another example of the comradery which exists in this tight-knit culinary community.