When you go into a restaurant with a brewery are you hoping for really good food or really good beer? Is it expected that you can only get one or the other?
Newly opened Avling Brewery & Restaurant believes you can have both. Let’s first start with the space.
A bright open bar and restaurant space fronts the brewery; easy on the eyes light wood decor, pastels prints and neon pops of color invite the guest to sit and relax for a while without distracting from the experience they are about to enjoy. A surprisingly wonderful perk are the outlets under the bench sits for those who need a charge before their Instagram moment. In the back and technically the basement is the brewery where Head Brewer Brandon Judd is the mastermind behind their solid, well balanced and delicious beers. You can find a choice of an IPA, two saisons, a Pilsner and hoppy Belgian Ale.
On the rooftop is their garden. Planted with vegetables, herbs, fruit and grains, any number of these plants are used as garnishes, ingredients in dishes, beers or cocktails.
While guests aren’t privy to whats behind closed doors its the kitchen that create the food magic. The biggest mandate the restaurant has in sourcing everything and anything as locally as possible. They have local farmers where they get whole animals, fishing communities where money goes back into sustaining the people of the area, local bee keepers, small bakeries and more. And if they can’t find it they create it themselves. Their in-house butcher Sam cures meats, makes cheeses and more while the rest of the kitchen staff find creative ways to use the spent grain, or other ingredients from the brewing process or even their latest beer.
The feature farm greens is a great starter or side dish. A blend of lettuce from their roof top garden and a local small cutting farm topped with puffed grains (from the beer) for a nice crunch of protein and flavors. The dressing for this day was a Saison and carrot juice vinaigrette.
The sandwich of the day depends completely on their whole animal procurement. Conversations happen daily between the butcher Sam and the chefs on what proteins are being used that day and then the meats are slow cooked in the wood fire oven. On this day the special was a malted boule; a square slice of bread with whole grains from the brewery speckled inside, topped with smoked Sturgeon, pickled eggs, a duck gelee mayo and the greens of the day.
Their burger is one of the most popular dishes. Instead of using a special blend of meats they believe in using the whole animal in their kitchen creating a wide variety of flavors of their palate. The bun comes from Brodflour; a local urban bakery that mills their flour fresh everyday from grains they source locally as well.
An Indian influence adds a extra layer to the classic fish and chips. Turbot is marinated in a mixture of cabbage, turmeric, curry leaves, garlic and scallion before being coated with the Avling IPA, curry and turmeric batter. Accompanying the fish is a cucumber and mint raita and a carrot relish with tamarind paste and chili’s.
The fish comes from a company called First Fish. They work with aboriginal communities in Northern Canada where they send a large portion of the proceeds from the fish back to the town to help build infrastructure and create more employment.
Served with mini potatoes that are poached in salt and vinegar and then smashed and fried. These can be ordered just as a shareable since they are amazing with their malted vinegar aioli.
You can expect the menu to change weekly if not daily given the use of small local companies and their management of waste from their ingredients. When they finish a whole cow its time to move on.
The enthusiasm from the staff over this new open is palatable. With management believing in their staff rights, education and participation in the growth of the company the energy in the space is incredible. With tasting sessions, fair and competitive wages, education on harassment and more Avling puts as much effort into their staff as they do their food and drink.
If you want to learn more about the brewery and beer check out my companion piece here.
However it is always encouraged to find out youself first hand.
Avling Brewery & Restaurant, 1042 Queen St E, Toronto, ON M4M 1K4