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Review: Ferro

Please excuse the over-exposure of this photo. It’s the inevitable consequence of low lighting and late eating. For a recent family birthday dinner, we visited Ferro, and this drink, the Negroni, convinced me to blog the location.

I didn’t start with the Negroni. I actually started with a pint of Neustadt Springs 10W30, a local dark beer that isn’t as thick or creamy as other offerings, but maintains flavours of maple and chocolate in its final stages. Hearing this, my mother-in-law took her first sip of beer in decades. She hated it, but I finished mine before everyone else did. Meanwhile, we were waiting for latecomers, so we ordered a pile of appetizers, including the bruschetta, the crostini all’formaggio, and the “magic mushrooms.” If you order any of the appetizers, order this last one. Goat cheese crostini, oyster mushrooms, garlic cream sauce. Roasted. Perfectly.

One of the reasons I decided to blog Ferro is the attention paid to the quality of every single offering, including the appetizers. I think a lot of restaurants in Toronto and elsewhere can fall down in the margins of the menu, but there was never a point in our experience where that fall happened. Everything tasted handmade, including the biscotti I finished my meal with. Unlike the majority of biscotti, it was not brick-like or dry, and it snapped easily in my fingers. It tasted of gingerbread, not almond “flavouring,” and actually felt like a dessert and not a fringe benefit. This same philosophy permeates the drinks menu, too: the mojitos are one big tall glass of summer, and my Negroni was searingly clean and fresh. I think it was made with Plymouth’s, because it was strong enough to keep me sipping. “Like a dainty old lady,” the manager chided me, when I complimented him on the drink. A squeeze of orange dulled the drink’s sharpness, but not its impact. It was the best mixed drink I’d tasted outside of Michael Skeet’s place.

A telling anecdote: the person sitting beside me asked for a substitution in her sauce, and was informed by the manager (who served us patiently the entire evening) that all sauces were made fresh to order, so substitutions were not a problem. (How that translates for people with food allergies, I’m not sure, but it sounds promising.)

The closest to failure that our experience ever came was in this dish, the Fusilli. For my taste, it was a tad too salty. I suspect that stemmed from the amount of smoked chicken in the dish. I could have done with a bit less. However, my husband noticed nothing amiss when he ate the remainder of my portion for lunch the next day. And it was all worth it for the perfect textures elsewhere: silky sauce, crispy broccoli, springy pasta. The broccoli sold me on the dish as a whole, because it’s so easy to screw up. It’s such a tiny, basic thing, but most of the time when you order a cruciferous plant, it’s under-done and bitter, or over-done and limp. Not this time.

In other words, you should go. St. Clair West is littered with restaurants, making it difficult to choose where to go when you’re hungry or tired or lost. But now you know: you go to Ferro.

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