Fresh off a meal at the Fat Badger, I wanted to continue the English pub food theme, but roughly in the same manner (as in slightly elevated). That brought us to The Abbey in the former location of Wild Rice. Interestingly, my good ol' friends from England, in response to my mission to find good pub food, remarked that I shouldn't get my hopes up. Well, maybe they might be open-minded enough to give the Fat Badger and The Abbey at try. On that note, Costanza, Elaine, Viv and I were about to find out what was in store at The Abbey.
With a bevy of mushrooms and sauce, our first appie was you guessed it, Mushrooms on Toast. Sporting a combination of chanterelles, shimiji and button mushrooms, this had all the potential to be a wonderful mix of flavours. However, we found the sauce far too tart which inhibited the woodsiness of the mushrooms. With that being said, it was still a decent dish. Next up, we split 2 Sausage Rolls between us (sounds a bit sketch I know...). These featured a light and flaky pastry which was a touch soft on the bottom. Inside, the sausage was meaty and actually quite lean. It was mild in flavour, but the sides of dijon was super powerful where it should be used only sparingly.
Our favourite appie of the bunch had to be the Free- Run Chicken Karaage tossed in togaroshi and served with spicy mayo. Each large piece of fried chicken was crispy on the outside without being greasy. The attached skin was also nicely rendered and crisp. In addition to the slight spice on the outside, the flavours were further amped by the spicy mayo. Onto the mains, I decided on the Venison Burger with Lincolnshire Poacher cheese, wild boar bacon, pickled vegetables, salt & vinegar fries. Served on toasted white bread, this was actually 2 burgers disguised as a sandwich. This was so hearty, I could only finish half of it. The meat itself was nicely processed where there was both moisture and enough fat to keep the meat from being dry (as venison tends to be). It retained some pink, which also helped the cause. I found the cheese to be nutty and full-flavoured while the bacon added both crunch and saltiness. The side of salt & vinegar fries were da bomb as they were crispy while living up to its namesake.
Viv ended up with the dud of the meal being the Duck Confit with Toulouse sausage and cassoulet beans, blood orange and duck jus. Although the duck leg was crispy on the outside with well-rendered skin, it resulted in an extremely dry and chewy product. Hence, she wasn't overly enthused with eating it. It was also rather salty too. Not helping matters, the sausage was gritty and dry. On the other hand, the beans were nicely done though being soft with a slight bite. Costanza's choice of the Duck Shepherd's Pie redeemed the aforementioned dish. It was a good portion of shredded duck confit which was remarkably more tender and moist than Viv's dish. It was well-seasoned, bordering on salty, where it retained a natural gamy flavour. The mash potatoes on top were not overly heavy nor was it a thick layer either. Very little filler in this dish.
Elaine went for the Carbonnade Flamande, Beer Braised Beef with onions, horseradish, apple puree and pomme paille. The beef was fork tender and relatively moist. It was doused in a sauce that had a rich ale essence and woodsiness while riding the line between tasty and too salty. I liked the crispy and light pomme paille, but they were salted a tad too aggressively. For dessert, we had the Sticky Toffee Pudding with bourbon sauce which was probably the best we've had to date. Rather than soaking a heavy cake with even more sugar and moisture, this one sat in a creamy bourbon sauce. The cake itself was super light and fluffy (a departure from the typical). There were many layers of flavour including a lightly sweet and smoky toffee finish.
We weren't as enthused about the Peanut Butter Pie with sour cherries as the crust was far too sugary where the granules merely destroyed the smoothness of the filling. About that filling, it was silky and only semi-sweet with the essence of peanuts. I liked the sour cherries and wished there was more of it to bring some more acidity to the dessert. Despite some shortcomings, we still enjoyed our meal at The Abbey. One's experience truly depends on ordering the right dishes. We would definitely come back for the sticky toffee pudding for sure.
- Casual, sophisticated ambiance
- Attentive service
- We liked 75% of the dishes, which is a pretty good batting average
- Not sure what was going on with the Duck Confit
- A bit heavy on the salt