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November 21, 2013 - 13:01 PM

Bites Between Besties: Richmond Station

Who Are We? We’re BFFs whose love of stuffing our faces has taken us to the US and Europe in search of the world’s top restaurants. But recently, we decided to have some food adventures closer to home. We’re setting out to try one new (or at least new to us) Toronto restaurant every week for a year – or at least until we can no longer fit into our pants.
And here’s the catch… we want to give you an authentic experience so all of our reviews are done anonymously.  As far as the restaurant is concerned, we’re just two patrons who take lots of photos of their food. Or are we?

This week, we hit up Richmond Station, which opened last October.

Address: 1 Richmond Street West
Vibe: Farm-to-table meets the financial district
Price: $$$
Closest subway: Queen Station
Drink menu: An ever-changing cocktail list, a thorough wine list, recommended wine pairings by the glass or 1/2 glass 
Service: Very knowledgeable and friendly
Patio: No
Online: www.richmondstation.ca, @richmondstn
Reservations: www.richmondstation.ca or phone 647-748-1444   
 
First Impressions
Richmond Station has barely been open a year, and already it’s risen to the top of our list of favourite Toronto restaurants. Owned by Top Chef champion Carl Heinrich and butcher Ryan Donavan (who both came from Marben), the bustling establishment is making a name for itself by serving up fresh, local ingredients in innovative, unpretentious ways. Despite its popularity and the closeness of the tables, the noise level never seems to exceed polite conversation. 
 
Richmond Station charcuterieAppetizers: Charcuterie ($16); Oysters ($3.50/pc)
We started with oysters on a half shell, sourced from PEI. The plump, fresh oysters were served with lemon, fresh horseradish and a trio of sauces: hot sauce, housemade cocktail sauce and house made mignonette. The latter is always our favourite, made with sauvignon blanc vinaigrette and fresh cucumber.
 
Next up was the charcuterie board featuring a selection of preserves and meats cured in-house. This version had beef pepperoni, beef bourguignon salami, Culatello ham, venison salami and smoked chicken mortadella. The beef salami had beautiful pepper and anise flavours, while the venison salami was rich and gamey. We were somewhat underwhelmed by the ham but the mortadella more than made up for it.  Donavan explained how he worked hard to get the consistency of the mortadella just right and how using chicken instead of pork made it easier to replicate. Good thing because we’re looking forward to eating this again on our next visit!
 
Richmond Station soupSoup: Butternut Squash Soup ($7)
Before getting into the more substantial courses, we were served small cups of butternut squash soup dressed with spaghetti squash, pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds) and sage oil. The soup tasted like fall, full of warmth and sweetness. We would have gladly eaten another bowl each, were it not for the courses still to come.
 
Richmond Station beet saladSalad: Roasted Beet Salad ($12)
Our next course was roasted beet salad served with arugula and a dollop of Caesar salad dressing, and topped with a poached, lightly breaded, deep fried egg. Our server advised us to break into the egg from the top, allowing its creamy yolk to spill over the salad. One of us doesn’t like egg so she avoided the poached topping and still found the salad earthy and delicious, but the other insisted she was missing out, calling the egg addition “divine.” 
 
Richmond Station troutFish: Trout Bourguignon ($27)
Already getting full, we finally moved on to the entrees. Our first main course was trout bourguignon served with pearl onions, oyster mushrooms, bacon and macerated fingerling potatoes. The trout was lightly smoked, making it slightly pink in colour and giving it a delicate flavour that paired well with the other elements of the dish.
 
Richmond Station porkMeat: Pork Three Ways ($26)
Our second entree was pork served three ways: T-bone, frankfurter and Moscow sausage. The enormous dish was served with choucroute (sauerkraut), potatoes and a mustard jus. We can’t say we’ve ever had an all-pork hotdog like this one before, which was both mild and delicious. The star of the dish, however, was the grilled T-bone. It was both juicy and lean, and made us wonder why we don’t see more of this cut in restaurants.
 
Richmond Station dessertDessert: Chocolate Cheesecake ($9)
The artfully plated cheesecake featured dollops of chestnut puree, chocolate crumble and cranberry puree. The tart cranberry cut the sweetness of the luscious creamy milk chocolate cheesecake, while the chestnut added a layer of richness.

Final Thoughts
Once again, Richmond Station delivered an understated (yet undeniably delicious) meal. Along with what we ordered on this visit, we’d also recommend their signature burger ($20), which is stuffed with braised short ribs and topped with aged cheddar and beet chutney on a toasted housemade bun, then served with roasted radish salad and rosemary Kennebec fries. Whatever you order, try to sit at the chef’s table for the full experience.