Friday, November 29, 2013

Butternut Squash Flatbread at Establishment

Establishment Lounge on Urbanspoon Back to Establishment! It's probably the restaurant I've brought the most guests to and I've had yet to have a really bad experience there. Value for money is generally good (a bit steep on the tapas, though), and it's overall a really safe place to bring guests. The combination of good food and the restaurant not being too busy makes it very convenient for groups big or small.
Plus Chef Bongo's Famous African Chicken Peanut Soup is still a winner. They are also still making it very convenient to share their large-portioned soups so you should not be shy about asking a single order to be split into two bowls. (I totally forgot to try the vegetarian version. Drat.)

Chef Bongo's Chilled White Asparagus Soup ($11) creamy white asparagus with crab & avocado, drizzled with truffle oil
  • I felt this was a little overdone with the truffle oil because it really covered up the other flavours.
  • I guess if you like chilled soup that smells like truffle oil, that's okay. Otherwise, pass, or wait for them to change it up a bit.
Chef's Tapas Tasting Plate ($24) consisting of a sampling of the famous African chicken peanut soup, shrimp & lobster cake, lamb slider, wild mushroom risotto ball, and black truffle saccottini pasta
  • You basically get one bite of each item. At $24, this is steep for the portion, but remember that the items come from their appy/tapas selection. Trying to get volume from appys almost never works out.
  • For some reason the look of the plate seemed sloppy somehow. Maybe it was the lamb slider's torn-open-bun look that influenced the overall presentation. It was interesting, but it felt inferior to a cleaner sliced bun. The lamb patty sat neatly inside, however, and did not try to escape when you bit into it, which sometimes happens with mini-burgers.
Butternut Squash Flatbread ($15.50) maple-roasted butternut squash, white garlic cream sauce, caramelized onions, figs, finished with gorgonzola cheese & fresh sage
  • This was really nicely done. It was about 12 inches long and maybe 5 inches wide. Not exactly covered with toppings to the very edge, but the toppings were quite generous, to the point where the middle slices needed both hands to prevent toppings from flopping off.
  • The crust was a real winner here. Really fun-crispy on the outside, airy on the inside so as to not fill you up with just bread, and without too much chewiness.
  • Do NOT wait too long to finish this. Like most pizza, the flavours fall flat when it gets cold.
  • Really nice touch with the small figs, giving it a light sweetness.
I was there at 5.00 PM and maybe they were still fuzzing around with getting things open, but the washroom felt like it needed more of a cleanup and it was low on toilet paper. No matter how lovely a restaurant looks at the front end, a scary washroom always leaves me with a icky feeling.
The wine list had a few items crossed out. This felt sloppy to me: Could they not just print out clean copies of the menu?
To me, these are worrisome indicators. Establishment is in sort of a black hole, and most of the menu items really deserve attention, so it's sad that their dinner service still seems under-attended. Slacking on routine things (washroom cleanliness) and presentation (wine list) can't help.

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