Monday, March 24, 2008

tasteTO review: Prohibition, formerly Booze Emporium

696 Queen Street East
Lunch for two with all taxes, tip, and a bottle of imported beer: $89

Prohibition, born "Booze Emporium", was renamed when its liquor license came under threat as the title was deemed inappropriate. There were several articles published that relayed this incident, but nary a review. More digging lead to long discussion threads on Chowhound that had widely varying opinions. I was curious about its gastropub and oyster bar promises, but it was the recent addition of a lunch and weekend brunch menu that prompted a visit.

susan-prohibition-caesar.jpgIt was a Sunday afternoon and the place was quite empty. Just as quickly, someone's genteel mother arrived with menus and took beverage orders. Between her and the attentive and friendly male server (who must be "the bartender" everyone had raved about online), we were taken care of very well. The service was friendly, fast, and efficient.

The menu tried to be cute, naming categories like: "ruffage" (salads) and "hand-held" (burgers/sandwiches). Late night offerings like: calamari, wings, nachos, "flat pies" (pizza) with various toppings. Meat 'n bread items were the same as lunch. There'd been mention of a Kobe burger in the Chowhound posts, but the only one listed was made with bison. Brunch items started from $8.95 with the usual eggy suspects. It was a minimalist menu, but all sounded tempting, like the apple wood smoked cheddar grilled cheese or the fried goat cheese salad with candied nuts.

We started with the Caesar salad ($6.95 on the menu) which turned out to be disappointing. Homemade croutons and fresh grated parm couldn't make up for brown wilted leaves or a bland mayonnaise-like dressing. Not to mention, I didn't notice until too late that we'd been charged $7.95 for it.

The open-faced steak sandwich ($14.95) was a completely different story; one definitely worth retelling. Arriving on a platter about 2 feet long, it was flanked on either side by two lightly dressed salads: one dominated by spicy celery stalks, the other, a fennel slaw. It was also accompanied by a mound of of thin, fresh-cut fries, soft with a bit of crunch. Then there was the sandwich. Six ounces of lean and tender strip loin crowned with melted Brie, caramelized onion and mushrooms, sat atop thickly cut, buttered, flaxseed-flecked multi-grain bread.

susan-prohibition-dessert.jpgAs dessert, we ordered one of the brunch specials, French toast with raspberries and white chocolate ($9.95). My jaw dropped when again as a platter was brought out, carrying a serving fit for three. Unfortunately, the whipped cream had melted by the time it landed on our table, but that didn't diminish its impressiveness. Challah slices, about an inch thick, in crisped richly eggy coating were topped and stuffed with at least a pint of plump, fresh sweet tart berries and drizzled in white chocolate. Real maple syrup came with. Despite a possible tummy ache in finishing such a generous serving, it was all wolfed down.

If a gastropub equates a huge laid back space, with interesting aspects like a grand piano and Speakers Corner-esque video booth, that serves better than average, hefty-portioned casual fare at a slightly higher price point, then this fits the bill. Without any nearby pub peers, there's no prohibition to its potential.

here's the original review post on

once I hopefully fix my laptop, I'll post some more pix

1 comment:

Original Motorcycle Burgers said...

I am a food fanatic and I'm always searching the internet for food ideas. I love my hamburgers the most of course . Can anybody suggest some variations of burgers?