The Emerson is a neighbourhood bistro in Wallace-Emerson, the next area to be gentrified in Toronto. The short and focused menu is heavy on French-influenced, comfort dishes like thick pork chops and roasted chicken.
The ricotta ravioli with Ontario tomato sauce ($12) tasted like it had been made just minutes ago. We ordered it for the kids, since kids love pasta, right? Well, I guess they don’t, if it’s full of delicious herbs and fresh fresh flavour. Jerks.
The Emerson has a special every weekday; Wednesdays are for Parmesan sandwiches ($16). On this day, it was a Parmesan meatball sandwich. We also ordered that for the kids. They picked at the meatballs in its thick tomato sauce, then ate the bread separately. COME ON, CHILDREN!
While my spicy lamb shank ($17) was full of tender flavour, the sauce itself was actually quite tame. I can’t remember the accompanying gnocchi because H ate most of it.
The ribeye steak ($22) was fantastic — and at a great price point. The Bearnaise and Yorkshire pudding that came with were just so-so.
The mains don’t come with vegetables, following the trend of having to order sides separately ($5 each). We sampled all five sides ($20), which gave our table a hearty family feel. We appreciated the effort to go beyond ho-hum veggies.
The fries with thyme salt and mayonnaise were a winner, in the traditional frites style. Shaved cauliflower coleslaw and beet, frisee, asiago in balsamic dressing were a nice change. Brussels sprouts with bacon vinaigrette were a hit with H, while butternut squash gratin was a bit bland.
I stayed later to meet an old friend, so we moved to sit at the bar. The bartender, as with the other staff, was extremely attentive. My friend grabbed a late dinner while we caught up, and he highly recommended the sweetbreads.
I wouldn’t go out of my way for The Emerson, but it’s a decent local option when I’m in the area.
The Emerson tries hard to cater to the young families that are buying homes here. Kids can scribble on a big chalkboard, and babies can use an adorable wooden high chair that the owner used to use himself.
Still, I’d say this is a better for ages 4 and up than for babies and toddlers as there’s no kids’ menu, and limited room for squirmy ones. I like the convenient sink outside the bathrooms, but a stool to help little ones wash their hands would propel the Emerson into true kid-friendly territory.