Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Ace

 The moral of my experience at The Ace is probably: learn to make a damn reservation. It is this frequent oversight which has led me (and my unfortunate accomplices) to many a long wait. Though I showed up to the shiny new restaurant/diner at 231A Roncesvalles at 7:15pm, for an 8:00 get together, we didn't wind up with a table until close to 9pm. Oh boy. In the future, when visiting a such a new place I will be sure to call first. A lesson long overdue in being learned, which is not the fault of The Ace at all. These long waits simply offer a chance to wander an unfamiliar neighborhood and explore what fine bars abound, and to reconnect with dear friends who I don't see often enough.
The place itself is long, dark and narrow, like a corridor out of a Twin Peaks lodge, but without the unsettling metaphysical implications. The ceiling is black, the wallpaper old fashioned and intricate, faded. Candlelight almost exclusively serves as our lighting. Even with the kitchen cooking at full speed, there's something woodchippy and natural in the air. Compared to the outdoors on this cold night, The Ace is as cozy as blankets, its big and inviting window dripping with steam condensation.

Celery Root Soup ($4)-
A lightly creamy concoction simply from the luxuriant texture of the roots. this was delightfully fresh and comforting, a titch of cumin accenting the mellow celery root taste. The root is quite mellow compared to the stalk, and I think this is an idea soup to start a meal with.
Ontario Pork Chop w/ Russet Mash & Gravy ($21)-
Ryan has this, and the chop was big and juicy, the bone taking up a big chunk of the bulk. It had an appealing strip of fatty marbling and pips of herb. I didn't try this one, but from sight, the beans looked firm, the potatoes creamy. It disappeared with a speed that implies deliciousness!
Lake Erie Perch w/ Cauliflower Puree, Buttered Spinach & Roasted Red Pepper Compote ($22)-
Like the chop, the fillets of perch formed a little towed over their mash, a big red bullseye of pickled roast red pepper begging for a fork to land. The fish was evenly cooking, the skin indistinguishable from the body. Slightly smoky, very mild. The red pepper juice really permeated the flesh, oozing into each crevasse. Love the cauliflowed mash, almost as robust as a potato mash but with a much more playful taste, rooty and teasing.
Spaghetti w/ Smoked Trout, Spinach & Garlic Lemon Butter Sauce ($14)-
These round and robust noodles were soft, edging to overcooked (which I like but doesn't sit with many), and were evry plain. The garlic butter was a gentle touch, the lemon drizzle only perking it up a spot. The trout was very strong and good, mixing the smoke and water that makes me love this fish most. The spinach stood out more than the rest, making a coup on the spaghetti fortress. The trout and that mild garlic didn't know what hit them. If there was a hint of romano? It was trampled.
Zucchini Cake w/ Oatmeal Ice Cream ($6)-
The dinner portions are just right, leaving well enough room for a touch of dessert. There were some decadent and strange things chalked up on the board, like nutella stuffed pierogies, but a traditionalist mood had overtaken our table. Zucchini cake was ordered, arrived cool, moist, more like a true cake than any zucchini loaf I've taste before. Truly spongy. The squash was only a hint, as were the spices. The oatmeal ice cream was a show stopper, hints of a gummy oat texture that put cookie dough ice cream to shame, very clean and rich, hints of nutmeg, cinnamon,
Rosemary Belgian Chocolate Ice Cream ($4)-
My penchant for amusing combinations paid off in spades. What an excellent and uplifting mix. The flavour was like a trickle that swelled into a river, the rosemary smooth and hard to place even when expecting it, which then billowed and surged into a full mouth chocolate deluge, the ice cream fudge and mind blowing. bittersweet and constantly cut by the herb. What a combination!

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