Tucked in an old brick building on Richmond lies a new epicurean establishment: Thoroughbred . Brought to us by the teaming up of Chef Ariel and Copland, Maitre d’ Jacob Fox, and General Manager Robin Kemp, Thoroughbreed is an incredible edible discovery. Copland traveled the world and brings his experience to the kitchen to infuse into Canadian comfort fare. He told us he’s striving to do something different – and this is a goal he’s achieving again and again as he’s constantly revamping the menu. This constant evolution creates a natural flow, changing organically and seasonally. The one constant is the Kung Pao Cauliflower (and it’s understandable why, it’s downright delicious).
Upon walking through the door we’re greeted by a friendly hostess standing beside an awesome throw-back hamburger phone. She guides us up from the main floor bar and dining area to an area upstairs. Though currently sparsely outfitted, there’s warmth in the dark woods and life in the local art adorning the wall. (They have plans on how they’re going to continue creating that space and I can’t wait to see what they do).
The other section of the floor contains an open concept kitchen (always fun to catch a glimpse of the magic at work) and a chefs table. Accommodating eight to 10, this special table comes with it’s own menu options. Choose from a la carte, let the kitchen cook for you (pick a per person price point and let them get creative), and what sounds like the most fun, the Ain’t No Party Like An East Coast Party complete with seasonal seafood spread right across the table.
The creative naming is a theme that courses through the cocktail menu – how could we not try something called an Art Vandalay? Turns out it’s a drink that fills the mouth with a pleasant bitter flavour (bitter but enjoyable, kinda like Costanza). This was created using London Dry Gin, Dr Van Nostrand’s Tonic, sage, hopped grapefruit bitters, lime, and egg white. We also imbibed a Cadillac Chrome – named after the most recent horse to win the Kentucky Derby – which had a wonderful full and fruity flavour without being too sweet. This was achieved by blending Tequila Tromba Blanco, fresh pineapple, lime, passionfruit syrup, salted Campari, and hellfire shrub.
Select the starting point for food was tough as everything sounded good and came with rave reviews. I’d been told the Kung Pao Cauliflower was life-changing cauliflower, so how could I resist? I didn’t and I’m glad I succumbed. It packed a falvour punch with cashews, cilantro, and chili. The cauliflower was so well done it almost tasted like meaty shrimp.
Keeping in the cruciferous family we enjoyed an equally interesting sounding dish: roast broccoli marrow. Also enveloped in Asian flavour, the broccoli carpaccio came with plum vinegar and mache. The freshness lead me to scoop every last drop off the plate.
Another interesting interpretation of vegetables was the brussles sprouts Caesar salad. The little leafy buds of green were a lovely consistency and the perfectly poached egg on top lent a yolky thickness layered on the dressing.
[Note: I’m a meatatarian who often feels unsatisfied on fruit or veggies alone, however, the first three dishes were all vegetarian and left me totally satisfied from a quantity, quality, and taste perspective.]
Next was chicken liver mousse, accompanied by pickled cherries, granola, and chunks of a cinnamony sweet bread. The texture of the mousse was perfect. Full in taste yet light on the tongue to melt in our mouth.
A deconstructed take on traditional bagel, lox and cream cheese came in the form of everything bagel bites, crème fraiche, and a seasonal fish that’s been smoked in house. On the note of in-house smoking, they also pickle and bake in house.
Finally, chocolate bar truffles were the perfect small sweet treat to top off a fabulous feast.