"Never give up, never surrender". That was the line from the Star Trek spoof Galaxy Quest. For those who haven't watched it, I suggest you do. Now that line from the movie pretty much sums up my hockey team's resolve. You see, when we fail to eat at a restaurant for a variety of reasons, we try, try again. This was such the case with The Charlatan. About a month ago, the place was packed and we had no hope in the world in getting a seat for 7 people. So we ended up going across the street to Sake Maki instead. This time around, we only have 4 and we were heading out much later, which increased our chances. We did get seated right away, however it was around the bar area where the tables were more fit for 2 than 4. Definitely cozy and really, easier to share (which suited me just fine). However, I'm not sure why I got stuck with Gordo beside me while Milhouse got Emilicious...
We did end up starting with something to share in the Salt & Pepper Wings. With exactly 12 pieces, it was easy to divvy up among 4 people. These wings were pretty meaty and were not too dry. I wouldn't classify them as juicy, but much better than most places. The skin was crisp and nicely rendered from the frying. The salt and pepper was a touch uneven where some wings were more flavourful than others. Yet, that is understandable since it is hard to adhere to a non-sauced surface. We liked how the order of wings included a side of blue cheese dressing and veggie sticks (they also brought us a side of hot sauce as well). Since the late night menu features a variety of burgers, we all decided on a different one each and share. The Pulled Pork Burger caught my eye and it arrived majestically with a house-made beef patty, pulled pork, jalapenos and red cabbage slaw on a brioche bun. Although the jalapenos basically overwhelmed everything else, I personally didn't mind it. For a change, I could say my burger had lots of flavour. However, the tang from the pickle, red cabbage and jalapenos were a touch overkill with the acidity. The beef patty itself was on the drier side, but the rest of the ingredients made up for it. I found the pulled pork to be moist with a sweet BBQ sauce. Now the best part of this burger as with all of the other ones was the awesome brioche bun. It was soft, not dry and was strong enough to stand up to the ingredients. One of the better brioche buns I've had with a burger in some time. The side of fresh-cut fries was massive and quite good. They were crispy and thin without losing its "potatoness".
I had initially substituted the fries for a Poutine (which they forgot), so I actually ended up with a double order of fries. Okay, I'll put myself out there and say that this poutine was pretty good. First of all, it started with the right base being the fresh-cut fries. Too many places get lazy and use generic frozen fries which essentially ruins the dish regardless of the gravy and cheese curds. And on the topic of gravy and cheese curds, they were solid here. The gravy was thick while not being clumpy and it provided just enough flavour without being salty. To top it off, the cheese curds were fantastic. With only a few melted, we could get that desired "squeak". One of the better poutines we've had in awhile. Emilicious ended up with The Charlie which consisted of BBQ sauce, caramelized onions and Danish blue cheese. I was indifferent with this one because the sweetness of the BBQ sauce and onions really didn't let the sharpness of the blue cheese come through.
Milhouse went for the Lamb Burger with tzatziki, goat's cheese and roasted red pepper. This wasn't bad where the lamb was not that gamy while the tzatziki and goat's cheese made it rich and creamy. Lastly, Gordo had the Bacon Cheeseburger with smoked white cheddar and thick cut bacon. I really liked this one because the bacon was fried until it was super crispy. Combined with the smoky cheddar, this apparently simple burger worked. Despite the dry patties, somehow, we still liked our burgers as well as the fries. It ain't gourmet food, but for late night eats, The Charlatan came through.
- It's lively and noisy (in a good way)
- Despite the dry burger patties, the burgers were on the whole pretty good
- The service we got was good
- Depending on your seat, it can be cramped
- We liked the burgers but the patties could've been cooked just a touch less