Review: The Emerson, a new family-friendly bistro in Bloorcourt
The Emerson ★½
1279 Bloor St. W., 416-532-1717
This jovial new Bloordale spot is the ultimate hipster family restaurant. The room is filled to the rafters with reclaimed curios—a model airplane hanging from the ceiling, vintage bikes mounted on the wall—but the space is large, the music is mercifully low and the crowd is a mix of flannel-clad 30-somethings and toddlers. The cooks in the open kitchen sport pointy paper hats and bow ties while prepping trendy but safe bistro food. Peppery thimble-sized sweetbreads have a popcorn chicken crunch in a tangle of vinegary frisée and watercress. A Flinstonian braised lamb shank releases a torrent of flavour, but its chipotle sauce is all bland heat on its own. A hulking 12-ounce rib-eye looks like it spent a day at the beach with its delicious crust of sea salt and pepper, but too many gristly bits need to be cut off and pushed aside. Sides make the meal, especially a butternut-Gorgonzola gratin with a brittle Parmesan cap. Adults will appreciate creative cocktails, like the Caribbean Queen, a blend of ginger beer, lime, rum and rosemary syrup, while the kids will insist on the towering peanut butter fudge brownie sundae that’ll have them running in circles.