After a month-long hiatus, I'm back! No, I didn't go on vacation, I was in town the entire time. Laziness? Perhaps, it was the holidays after all. But nah, the biggest reason for the lack of posts is due to the fact that I've been pretty much going to the same two restaurants during the entire month of December; namely JaBistro (been there four times) and Skin + Bones (been there six times and have been waiting until I've had almost the entire menu to blog about it). Mind you, I didn't have dinner at Skin + Bones on all six occasions, several times were for drinks, but nonetheless I became somewhat of a "regular" there (confirmed by my foursquare mayorship, of course). This really points to one conclusion, right? Both JaBistro and Skin + Bones, in my opinion, are simply excellent places to eat and I was more than happy to accompany friends who haven't been just so they can experience some tasty food. As for Skin + Bones, it surely has nothing to do with their amazing chicken tails, nor its fluffy gnocchi, nor its decadent sticky toffee pudding that entices me to go back time and time again. No. I'm just an awesome friend. That's all.
It was close to six months ago when I attended one of chef Matthew Sullivan's Boxed dinners. Because I've never had the opportunity to visit Maléna and L’Unità during his time there as executive chef, I didn't know what what to expect. Going in "blind", lets just say the dinner completely exceeded my expectation. It was exceptional and I loved it. It left me very excited to try more of chef Sullivan's food at the next Boxed pop-up, whenever that may be. Little did I know, he had bigger plans in mind with Skin + Bones.
Located at the corner of Queen and Carlaw, Skin + Bones is a wine bar that boosts a very vast wine list; it offers approximately 40 wines by-the-glass with a modest selection of cocktails and beer.
A long and spacious bar separates the high-tops by the front window and the back dining room. The dining room is quite extensive with ample room between tables (you will never feel cramped or crowded). Diners get a view of Skin + Bones' (Twitter: @skinandbonesTO, Facebook: Skin + Bones) open kitchen.
Bread. Made in-house and served warm and fluffy.
Stracciatella Cheese L'Effet Papillon Honey, Perth Pork Skin Crumble, Fleur de Sel (amuse)
Fried Pig Tails Egg Yolk Emulsion, Radish Salad (amuse)
Crispy Chicken Tails Potato Salad ($8)
Morcillia Spanish Blood Sausage, Pickled Apple, Sourdough Crostini ($8)
Beef Tartare Iceberg Lettuce, Milk Bread, Pickles and "Monforte" Toscano ($13)
Salt Cured Foie Gras Preserved Quince, Brioche and L'Effet Papillon Raw Honeybee ($11)
Nova Scotian Smelt Escabache Braised Swiss Chard, Lemon, Fennel, Crispy Garlic ($14)
Celeriac Gnocchi with Uni Bottarga Fried Tomato Preserve, Chili and Garlic ($15)
Roasted Perth Pork Belly & Octopus Salad Roasted Bone Marrow Arancini, Marinated Radish & Parsley ($18)
Chicken & Wine Slow Cooked Half Chicken, Rutabaga Puree, Celery & White Wine Sauce ($19)
Sticky Toffee Pudding Bone Marrow Caramel and Chantilly Cream ($6)
Doughnuts Brioche Dough, tossed in Burnt White Chocolate Ganache, finished with Dried Burnt White Chocolate Powder.
It is rare that I like every single dish at a restaurant but that doesn't mean it never happens. Certainly I have my favourites at Skin + Bones but I genuinely enjoyed everything I had there. Components on every plate were well balanced (i.e. I never felt like I wanted more or less of something) and executed well. Each plate is unique on its own; a perfect example being the crispy chicken tails. They are so fun to eat and so tasty...really addictive. The beef tartare, a seemingly ordinary appetizer is made not-so-ordinary here with the addition of fermented cucumber, shallots, garlic, soy, mustard and a bit of chili (which gives it a slight kick....love that). The foie gras on top of the airy, crispy brioche is light (perfect for those who shy away from foie due to its fattiness or "heaviness") and the sweet honey & preserved quince compliments the salt-cured foie gras perfectly. The diverse textures and flavours found throughout the menu really shines through in the gnocchi; the crumbly uni bottarga sprinkled on top of a bed of pillow-y soft gnocchi is truly luscious; accompanied with a sweet, smoky tomato sauce, the whole plate is just fabulous. Next up: the chicken and wine. Possibly the most tender and juiciest chicken I've ever had. It is a pretty bold statement, I know, but it's not just me, my friends think so too :) As for dessert, I have never left the premise without ordering their sticky toffee pudding. Once again, this is not your normal, everyday "STP"; the addition of bone marrow caramel and chantilly cream really kicks this sweet, warm dessert up a notch (or a few notches). Although some (or maybe just one person) may say to stop with the sticky toffee pudding but, Skin + Bones, your STP is definitely a keeper! Don't get rid of it!!!