A Rainy Night Dinner at Eastside Social

Tuesday, wet, rainy.

Seemed a perfect day to head east to Leslieville and dinner at Eastside Social with my partner and our good friend Brian. ‘A Tuesday in July, shouldn’t be a problem getting a table’ says Brian and indeed it wasn’t as we sauntered in to a virtually empty room, and grabbed a table for 3, of our choice. (Eastside Social has a very odd and complicated reservation policy that starts with a minimum of 8 people, on certain days and at certain hours).

Eastside Social and it’s Ruby Watchco Pedigree

I had heard some good things about Eastside Social and specifically it’s Ruby Watchco pedigree and indeed felt warm and welcomed in a Maritime kind of way to it’s split bar and dining room but felt a certain dread as we moved across the bar and into the main room with only two other diners in the entire place when we arrived just after 7 pm.

Wine list and menus thumbed, our first choice of vino is not available. Hmmm. We taste the second choice and agree on a very serviceable Chardonnay for summer sipping. We are having food decision issues but finally food decisions are made and Brian opts for a starter of Sushi Grade Salmon Tartar served with Cucumber, Avocado, Creme Fraiche , Soy and Lime Vinaigrette, with Artichoke Chips. This was perhaps the best dish of the wet evening; the Salmon just perfect, buttery light and fresh, complimented by the fleshy avocado and hints of the soy/lime vinaigrette. After much deliberation, I decide on the Hot Smoked Mackeral. ‘Sorry, that’s not available this evening.’ Hmmmmmmm. I hesitate. Then in a rush, order the Salt Cod Balls with a (supposed) Green Salsa and perched on a swash of Chipotle Romesco. Well. First of all, deep fried. I’m fine with that. I actually like deep fried. Perhaps too much.  The Balls are beautifully presented, but heavy, lumpy and salty. I had read a previous post where the reviewer was thrilled to find some of the menu’s squid in the dense balls: I would not have been quite as thrilled as I have a shell fish allergy and this was clearly stated to our server. All I discovered was Cod and Potato. And heavy. And salty. As for that Green Salsa? Not on my plate. I ate 2 of the 4 balls. John, our token vegetarian, chooses the Very Devilled Eggs. Again, nicely presented but average, pedestrian.

Eastside Social: Not So Social

Brian and I move onto the Fish Tacos: they arrive with two slight, slices of lime to spritz and again, while serviceable, the soft-shell tacos  too wet to hold the deep fried fish, falling apart as we move them to our hungry mouths. The tasteless apple and cabbage slaw only adding to the sloppy mess. Have had better deep fried fish tacos at the Firkin Chain. John’s veg option is the Kale Salad. Ok. Kale Salad? Kinda last year. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good Kale Salad and pull a mean Tuscan Kale Caesar together myself but don’t expect to (still) see it on a menu by the good and progressive food folks who brought us Ruby Watcho. The salad, again, beautifully presented, is completely overly dressed with the buttermilk poppy seed dressing, the Kale chiffonade still too raw to be truely enjoyed. The Cumin & Chive Cracker was good and was a good counter to the wet salad which John dosen’t finish. We aren’t feeling terribly Social.

We had all been out for seperate lunches that day, each having a bottle of wine and two courses and we compare the experiences, price point, service and value for our dollar.  Dinner for the 3 of us, with wine, was $150+ dollars not including tip. Our combined, split lunches, $30 with wine, then tip added on. Service, while jovial and funny, was slap-dash, unorganized and unknowledgeable. Our server spent more time with the later arrival table of four when they all discovered their shared Irish connections and geography. We all agree that lunch was perhaps the better deal.  Based on service, food and value, unfortunately, followsummer rates Eastside Social a 2 out of 5. Too bad. Was totally looking forward to some good ‘ole ‘Coastal Fare & Bevies’.

Perhaps next time when we are in Halifax. The true EASTside will be a bit more sociable.

 Social-well, my friends.

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